Ed Buckley's Jan. 3 column regarding making our city livable for locals was the first one I've read that addresses the elephant in the room - a lack of affordability on the peninsula for any but the wealthiest, or having to settle for a place so tiny as to make it almost unusable.

My husband and I are Exhibit A: empty nesters who work downtown on Meeting Street and King Street respectively, both professionals and lucky to enjoy a middle-class lifestyle.

We commute in one car from our home in West Ashley, a commute of nine miles that takes 30 to 40 minutes most days in the heavy stop-and-go traffic on Highways 61 and 17.

We would love to live in walkable distance from work, and Buckley's question "What middle-class family, young professional or new retiree can afford a multimillion-dollar mansion South of Broad? Or a $900,000 remodeled single home north of the Crosstown for that matter?" is exactly right. A quick look at real estate on the peninsula shows the futility of that desire.

As of Jan. 6, Realtor.com for zip code 29401 shows the least expensive property south of Broad is a 514-square-foot apartment for $525,000, or $1,021 per square foot. The least expensive property shown south of Calhoun is a 580-square-foot condo for $162,000 - quite affordable dollar-wise, but still $279 per square foot. And what couple with children, grandchildren and/or visitors can live in 580 square feet? While certainly possible, it would be uncomfortable for most.

All those cars commuting onto the peninsula would be unnecessary if more of the people who work downtown could live downtown.

If instead of building more hotels, we built more apartments and condos that were affordable, we could eliminate many of the issues that come with the glut of cars streaming over our bridges each morning.

And as for the new bike path - give me a break. Realistically, the vast majority of the people like us who work downtown are never, ever going to bike to work. We live in a hot, humid climate, and we do not have access to showers at work.

Millions of dollars are to be spent on a bike path for a few people who are either recreational cyclists or who have the kind of jobs where they don't feel the need to shower after a bike ride in 90 degree heat. Most women are not going to work all day with the kind of hair you get from a bike helmet and sweat.

My husband is not going to roll his suit into a backpack, nor am I packing my heels. And, although I am a runner and could easily run the nine miles, it is not safe to do so and I do not expect the city to add a pedestrian lane to traffic on the off chance I might want to run it sometime.

Thinking that the bike path will have any impact on the number of cars downtown is just absurd.

Mr. Buckley's statement "With a little creativity - breaking large homes into manageable apartments, allowing taller buildings with smaller footprints in the northernmost parts of downtown, encouraging renovation that values livability rather than luxury - the impact can be visually minimal and socially maximized" is exactly what is needed. But developers are not known for their altruism and are always going to prefer gain over good.

Such a beautiful city, so inaccessible to most of its own citizens.

What a shame.

Diane Rice

Bidwell Circle

Charleston