William M. Oakley of Charleston has won The Post and Courier’s Golden Pen award for June for his letter to the editor “Bikes ease traffic.”
Mr. Oakley’s letter began:
“I moved to James Island in 1978. When I commuted, I sat in traffic and watched other drivers read their newspapers as they inched along Folly Road. Now 40 years later we have built new highways and bridges and added lanes to our roads, but people still sit in traffic on Folly Road and also on Maybank Highway, Savannah Highway, I-26, I-526, Highway 61, Highway 41, etc. And 43 more people are moving here every day.”
Mr. Oakley suggested a change in transportation options to help solve that problem.
“We need to find ways to reduce the number of cars on our roads. We can’t build roads fast enough to avoid gridlock. Other cities are providing infrastructure for bicycles as part of their solution to traffic. In Boulder, Colo., 12 percent of the commuters now ride bicycles.
“Among larger cities, Portland, Ore., has 7.5 percent of its commuters on bicycles. In Minneapolis and Washington, D.C., 4.5 percent of the commuters are on bikes and New York City has 46,000 bicycle commuters. In Copenhagen, 50 percent of the commuters are on bicycles.
“Portland, Minneapolis and Copenhagen have weather that is more challenging for bicyclists than Charleston. But if there is a safe route, many people prefer to cycle even in the rain rather than sit in traffic.”
He added: “Many millennials and Generation Xers want the choice of not having to make car payments, buy gasoline and pay for parking to get to work or school or to live their daily lives.”
The letter concluded:
“The new pedestrian/bike lane on the Ashley River bridge and a bike lane on the James Island connector will be a good start to fighting the coming gridlock.”
Golden Pen winners are invited to an annual luncheon with the editorial staff.