People who live and work on the Charleston peninsula in the future will be more likely to get around on foot, bicycles and mass transportation than by driving their own cars, says mobility expert Gabe Klein.
Klein will be working closely with the city of Charleston and the Historic Charleston Foundation over the next several months developing a mobility plan for the peninsula. He made a public presentation Wednesday at The Charleston Museum on the work he's done in other cities and his initial impressions of Charleston.
Klein is the former director of transportation for the cities of Chicago and Washington, D.C., and is currently a visiting fellow at the Urban Land Institute. He has been responsible for implementing a variety of creative transportation improvements in urban areas.
"A car is not a bad thing," Klein said, "but riding around all day by yourself is a bad thing."
Instead, Klein envisions a downtown that is friendly to pedestrians and bicyclists by putting in place systems such as bike and car sharing programs.
Tim Keane, the city's planning director, said city and foundation leaders will work with Klein over the next few months to develop a draft mobility plan for the peninsula. The city then will hold another meeting to get public input on the plan.
Keane is not yet sure what the plan will include, he said, but it will be very specific, and will have long-term and short-term goals.
The city is fortunate to be able to get advice from Klein, because he doesn't regularly consult with cities on their mobility needs and plans, Keane said.
The city will pay Keane about $10,000 for his work.
Klein said strategies such as bike sharing - where a rider takes a bike from one rack, rides to where he or she is going, and then leaves it at another rack - are being done successfully in many different cities. "It's becoming a huge thing worldwide."
For instance, he said, Washington, D.C. now has 3,000 bicycles at 316 sharing stations.
And, he said, younger people are receptive to sharing bicycles and cars. In the future, access to transportation will become much more important than ownership.
Any plan for improving mobility on the peninsula must clearly prioritize certain things, he said. First, it must focus on the quality of life of the people who live there. It also must address job growth, tourism, public safety and health, he said.
And Klein thinks people in Charleston will become receptive to new ways of getting around. "This is such a walkable, bikeable area," he said. "If you reduce the friction, people will use it."
Stephanie Hunt, who is a member of Charleston Moves, a group that advocates better access for pedestrians and bicyclists, said she appreciated Klein's presentation and his vision for the future of cities.
"In Charleston, there's a culture of no," she said. "It's important for Charleston to see things that are doable, things that are proven in other cities."
Reach Diane Knich at 843-937-5491 or on Twitter at @dianeknich.
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