Seeing is believing.
Or is it?
Advocates of a bicycle/pedestrian lane on the T. Allen Legare Jr. Bridge over the Ashley River predictably see positive results from the ongoing trial run to measure its effect on motor vehicle traffic.
But opponents of converting one of those four car/truck lanes into a bike lane predictably disagree. They say it’s increasing motorized congestion — and not just on the Legare.
So as a public service, this column today delivers an objective, evidence-based perspective on how the bike lane experiment is going. These conclusions are based on the results of an exclusive investigation conducted Monday morning.
The current lane-closing deal by Charleston County includes barriers — not people on bikes or on foot — in the far right lane of the bridge.
From 10 to 10:15 a.m. on Monday, my observation of the bridge from the grassy knoll along the harbor side of the Riverview Holiday Inn showed no snarls — nor even any slight slowing of car/truck traffic — from the loss of that lane.
The accompanying photo offers vivid proof of that in a long-range view of the bridge. Notice how few cars there are in that revealing image.
And while the pace of my drive back into town across the Legare was right at — but not above — the 35 mph speed limit, the few other cars on the bridge zoomed past me.
No, 10 to 10:15 a.m. on a Monday isn’t exactly rush hour.
Then again, it’s not exactly 2 to 2:15 a.m., either.
Keep in mind, too, that the Legare has long been a one-way, four-lane bridge from West Ashley to the peninsula.
The World War I Memorial Bridge, just slightly farther up the Ashley, is a one-way, three-lane bridge from the peninsula to West Ashley.
So if three car/truck lanes are enough for the outgoing bridge from downtown, why can’t three suffice for the incoming span?
Sure, the swelling local ranks of bicyclists can be unnerving — and dangerous.
Yet when folks commute on bikes that means they’re not commuting in cars.
They’re also reducing human poundage and man-made carbon emissions.
And lest you dismiss the global greenhouse gas menace, ponder this alarm sounded on Earth Day (Friday) by Leonardo DiCaprio at the United Nations after representatives of 175 nations, including ours, signed the Paris climate accord there:
“We can congratulate each other today, but it will mean absolutely nothing if the world’s leaders gathered here go home and do nothing. ... No more talk, no more excuses, no more 10-year studies. The world is now watching. You will either be lauded by future generations or vilified by them.”
Sure, DiCaprio usually gets places via private jet or fancy car, not via bicycle.
However, he did get ample experience with climate extremes and other natural phenomenon — including a close encounter with a grizzly bear — in his Academy Award-winning role of hardy 1820s frontiersman Hugh Glass in 2015’s “The Revenant.”
Pop test (answers at column’s end):
1) Name song and composer:
“It won’t be a stylish marriage,
I can’t afford a carriage,
But you’ll look sweet,
Upon the seat,
Of a bicycle built for two”
2) Name who wrote:
“The members of the bicycle squad, which was established shortly after we took office, soon grew to show not only extraordinary proficiency on the wheel, but extraordinary daring. They frequently stopped runaways, wheeling alongside of them, and grasping the horses while going at full speed; and, what was even more remarkable, they managed not only to overtake but to jump into the vehicle and capture, on two or three different occasions, men who were guilty of reckless driving, and who fought violently in resisting arrest.”
3) Name the character who takes Toto away from Dorothy, then speeds off on a bike in the 1939 film gem “The Wizard of Oz.”
4) Name the movie with this stirring exchange:
Title character: “I wouldn’t sell my bike for all the money in the world. Not for a hundred million, trillion, billion dollars!”
Francis: “Then you’re crazy!”
Title character: “I know you are, but what am I?”
1) “Daisy Bell (Bicycle Built for Two),” an 1892 sheet-music hit written by English songwriter Harry Dacre, whose real name was Frank Dean.
2) Theodore Roosevelt wrote that in his 1913 autobiography, recalling his 1895 creation, while serving as superintendent of the New York City Police Department, of a bicycle squad, aka “The Scorcher Squad.” The outfit’s primary task was the apprehension of horse-drawn carriages that were exceeding safe speeds.
3) Almira Gulch. Margaret Hamilton plays both the mean Miss Gulch and the Wicked Witch of the West.
4) “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure,” a 1985 Tim Burton-directed film, stars Paul Reubens as Pee-Wee Herman and Mark Holton as Francis. Co-written by Reubens, Phil Hartman and Michael Varhol, it’s the gripping saga of Pee-Wee’s frantic, nationwide search for his stolen bike — a suspense plot based on director Vittorio De Sica’s 1948 Italian cinematic classic “The Bicycle Thief.”
Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.