South Carolina has 46 examples to emulate when it comes to bicycle safety. That's the number of states where people are less apt to be killed while bicycling or walking.
And the city of Charleston has about 40 reasons to step up its game. That's roughly the percentage of people who die in traffic accidents while traveling on bikes or on foot.
Yet local motorists, instead of welcoming projects that would reduce their likelihood of killing a bicyclist or pedestrian, often oppose them. And then they get annoyed when bicyclists, with no alternative lanes, slow them down.
So far, Charleston does not offer bicycle or pedestrian education courses for youths or adults, as do other cities. That might help reduce accidents. It also might also encourage bicyclists to follow the rules of the road. Motorists would appreciate that.
Cities across the country are demonstrating that commuting by bicycle or on foot is viable. It reduces emissions, eases parking problems and improves people's health.
Indeed, according to data collected by the Alliance for Biking & Walking, people are healthier in states where more people bike and walk.
Further, the alliance found, the more people who bike and walk, the fewer bicycle and pedestrian fatalities there are.
Charleston has a goal of increasing biking and walking, while decreasing fatalities.
As reported by Robert Behre in Thursday's Post and Courier, Charleston dedicated $3.1 million in its city budget to bicycling and walking initiatives. But it still has a long way to go. Efforts are complicated because peninsula streets are narrow.
And it is particularly expensive to provide safe bike/pedestrian passage over bodies of water like the Ashley and Stono rivers and Wappoo Cut.
The city, the county and the DOT are cooperating to provide safe bike access on the bridge going from west of the Ashley to the peninsula. The plan will convert one lane of motor traffic to bike and pedestrian use, and make changes in the approach to and departure from the bridge.
But there are still the James Island connector, the bridge between North Charleston and West Ashley over the Ashley River and the bridge from James Island to West Ashley over Wappoo Creek.
The Alliance for Biking & Walking recently released a report benchmarking states and cities on biking and pedestrian issues. South Carolina has more people per capita commuting by bike or on foot than 11 states, but only two states spend less per capita on bike/pedestrian projects.
The report reveals some difficult challenges for South Carolina and Charleston. Even one bicyclist dying in a traffic accident is too many. Two pedestrians being killed crossing the Crosstown are too many.
The report by the Alliance for Biking & Walking provides important data. It should encourage authorities to accelerate efforts to make the state and the Lowcountry safer for bikers and pedestrians.
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