Legislation passed in June allowed the city of Charleston to open the James Island connector to legal biking again.
But don’t expect it to happen any time soon — even as the current prohibition is largely being ignored by bikers and not enforced by police.
While city officials say they want the path made available, they first need to do a study to determine if it can be done safely. Right now, however, the city doesn’t have the money for it.
That means a study might not go forward until after next year’s budget passes in December.
“The prudent thing to do is a safety assessment,” said Hernan Pena, Charleston’s Traffic and Transportation director.
Some groups eager to lift the ban, however, say the city is moving too slow.
“The fact is that people right now are using routes that are less safe,” said Katie Zimmerman of the Coastal Conservation League, pointing to the Wappoo and Ashley River bridges.
Charleston Moves, an alternative travel advocacy, recently posted a letter to the city expressing frustration at the delay in reopening the route.
“At this rate, it could take years to clear hurdles in Charleston,” group director Tom Bradford wrote.
Lawmakers passed a bill allowing pedestrians and bikers to use “controlled-access” highways if local governments call for it and the state agrees there’s no other safe route. While the measure applies all across South Carolina, it was written specifically after the state Department of Transportation posted signs on the connector prohibiting bicyclists and pedestrians there.
Prior to the posting, riding and jogging on the connector was common. But the situation changed after a driver struck and killed Dr. Mitchell Hollon, who was cycling on the bridge.
Pena said officials are still developing the scope of the safety study and did not have a cost or time estimate.
He also said that as long as the prohibition signs are up, the public should consider the travel ban still in place.