Sullivan’s Island rejects proposal for bike taxis

A bike taxi owner and operator wants to bring the service to Sullivan’s Island but the town is not convinced that is a good idea. Here a bike taxi is shown in Charleston.

SULLIVAN’S ISLAND — A bike taxi company wants to cart passengers around this island, but Town Council is opposed.

Mayor Pat O’Neil said he doesn’t see a need for pedicabs. Narrow streets and public safety are a concern.

“If I’m out on the weekend on my old two-wheel bicycle and the ambulance or fire truck needs to come down I’On Avenue while I’m riding on it, I can get out of the way easily,” he said. “The same is not true of somebody on a big tricycle with two or three passengers.”

Town zoning prohibits pedicabs, and O’Neil doesn’t believe residents would like to see that change.

“It is unlikely that residents would want a commercial activity brought into their neighborhood,” the mayor said.

But Seth Abramson of Daniel Island Bike Taxi sees things differently. He launched a petition on change.org in support of pedicabs on Sullivan’s.

“I figure that if I get over half of the voting public on Sullivan’s Island to sign this petition it would be in the interest of an elected official to move forward with something that his constituents want,” he said.

The island has about 1,600 registered voters.

Bike taxis reduce traffic, overcrowding and drunk driving, Abramson said.

“It is an eco-friendly way of transportation to the beach, restaurants and even possibly the annual Polar Bear Plunge,” his online petition says.

Up to six bike taxis could be on the island, Abramson said.

Administrator Andy Benke said bike taxis are problematic for Sullivan’s in part because island parking is spread out on road shoulders rather than in a central location. Also, the small commercial district on Middle Street is tightly congested. Benke said walking from one’s car to the beach fits with the active island lifestyle the same as running, surfing, swimming and paddle boarding.

Daniel Island Bike Taxi currently offers pedicab service in Mount Pleasant, Charleston and on Daniel Island. Abramson had no comment on whether he plans to offer bike taxi service at Folly Beach or Isle of Palms.

“We had a bike taxi service a couple of years ago, but they left,” said Folly Mayor Tim Goodwin.

“Not making any money, and the taxi rides were of too great a length. It is hard to make many turnarounds if you have to travel nine or 10 blocks at a time,” he said.

Next month, Sullivan’s will implement a new plan that restricts parking to one side of the street. Abramson said that moves island visitors further away from the beach and increases the need for bike taxis.

O’Neil said he is happy to receive Abramson’s petition.

“He’s an enterprising fellow. He’s trying to grow his business and I certainly respect that but it’s not a business that is appropriate for all locations. That’s where we are,” O’Neil said.

Reach Prentiss Findlay at 843-937-5711.