Walk Bike BCD

Many peole find the Ravenel Bridge's bike and pedestrian path to be a wonderful place to exercise and enjoy the view. The area needs many more paths to help people get around safety on bike of by foot. File

The Lowcountry needs hundreds of miles of paths for bicyclists and pedestrians, according to an 18-month study for the Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments.

The Walk Bike BCD Plan took a look at how officials can encourage people to get around the tri-county area without cars, said planner Tee Coker of Alta Planning + Design. The mission includes improving pedestrian and bicycle access throughout the region.

Coker presented the finished plan, which was funded by a $200,000 federal grant, at Monday’s COG meeting.

“We’re not doing what we could as a community to make sure that people understand that to get around this region you don’t just get in your car by default,” Coker said. “There are other ways to get around.”

The Lowcountry currently has 96 miles of shared-use paths, 37 miles of paved shoulders or bike lanes, and 24 miles that are marked as bike routes.

The study proposes adding 546 miles of paths, 767 miles of paved shoulders or bike lanes, and 101 miles of marked routes, in addition to more sidewalks and other improvements — and connecting them to provide safe routes for people of all ages traveling to school, work, restaurants or stores.

“Can we actually build thousands of miles of bike trails and bike lanes?” Coker said. “We can’t do it right away, so we have to think about how to prioritize.”

The plan ranks the needs into five phases, with a recommendation that phase one be completed in the next decade.

“I think about Berkeley County and think about Volvo,” Coker said. “The folks who are coming in from Europe, the odds are they probably ride a bike to work even though they work for a car company. So they come in with a different set of expectations about what mobility means. What that means for us as a region is that we need to think about how to make sure that the investments that we’re making reflect some of those priorities that those folks have.”

Monday’s presentation was for information only. The Charleston Area Transportation Study Policy Committee will discuss funding at its Nov. 13 meeting to bring on additional staff to manage the projects.

Reach Brenda Rindge at 843-937-5713. Follow her on Twitter @brindge.