Motorists looking for some sun, sand and surf next summer should be able to find it at the Isle of Palms — and get there more easily.
Charleston County is planning to spend $2.4 million to widen, from two lanes to four, part of the road that connects U.S. Highway 17 to the bridge to the island.
Memorial Day is looking up for motorists who shouldn’t have to sit in traffic for three hours as they did this past summer.
And there’s good news for bicyclists too. While the road will be wider, the sidewalks and multi-purpose paths that flank different parts of the road will be maintained. Plus there will be a four-foot shoulder beyond that, not marked for bikes but available to them on their way to and from the bridge bike path.
Richard Turner, project manager for the county, said his staff works closely with Charleston Moves, a local advocacy group promoting bicycling.
It’s a good example for other governments. Planning ahead for bicycle accessibility is easier — and less expensive — than retrofitting.
Think of local bridges: The highly successful bike lane on the Arthur Ravenel Jr. bridge over the Cooper River versus the missed opportunity for better bikeways on the Ben Sawyer Bridge.
Even more dramatic is the bicycle disconnect between West Ashley and the peninsula. Neither the James Island connector nor the West Ashley bridges are safe for bicycles now. It is clear that they must be adjusted to accommodate bicycles for commuter access, for people’s health, for the environment and for recreation.
But doing that is pricey and complicated. They are the biggest challenge to completing Battery2Beach, a bike route from Folly Beach through James Island, peninsula Charleston, Mount Pleasant and Sullivan’s Island and ending at the beach of the Isle of Palms.
It isn’t safe for bicycles to cross on the Wappoo Cut or the North Ashley bridge either.
Not everyone in the Lowcountry is sold on the importance of making roads bicycle-friendly. Some government officials see it as a nuisance, and some motorists see it as a danger.
But the more that governments provide for safe bike paths and lanes, the safer it will be for bicyclists and motorists alike.
In this recently approved widening project, Charleston County has shown foresight and wisdom in accommodating both cars and bikes.
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