It is smart and it is healthy and it is environmentally friendly, but it isn’t easy to retrofit streets and bridges to accommodate bicyclists.
That’s why it is particularly encouraging to learn that key local officials have committed to working together to make it possible for bikers to go safely from Folly Beach through James Island around the Charleston peninsula waterfront (including the Battery) through Mount Pleasant and Sullivan’s Island to the Isle of Palms.
Charleston County, the state and six towns and cities along the route can learn from each other, coordinate their efforts and put their collective influence behind what would be a bike route that is appealing for both recreation and commuting.
It is a vision that Charleston Moves, a nonprofit organization, has been promoting for some time with encouragement from several jurisdictions. Mount Pleasant was talking about it in 2010, and Charleston County is providing funding for parts of it.
The 32-mile Battery2Beach route would cost $20 million, not including the most expensive parts like improving bridges over Shem Creek, Wappoo Cut and James Island Creek.
But the bike lane on the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge over the Cooper River was expensive, and it has proven to be worth every penny.
Investing in Battery2Beach would draw dividends over time. It could well become a route that people will travel here to take. Hoteliers would like that.
It could allow more people to bike to work or school and reduce vehicle emissions. And it could help people embrace healthier lifestyles.
Like the Ravenel bridge bike lane, Battery2Beach is being driven by the grassroots.
As Stephanie Hunt, Charleston Moves board chair, said to a gathering of mayors and city planners, “We have the tenacity, the dream. You guys have the authority, the power to make it happen.”
More and more bicycle projects in the area are being designed or built — in Summerville, Hanahan, Goose Creek, Charleston, the Isle of Palms. North Charleston and Mount Pleasant. Those ongoing efforts will encourage a unified, comprehensive solution for safe bicycle travel in the metropolitan area.
Clearly the community has warmed to the idea of bike friendliness.
With citizen enthusiasm and committed leadership the Battery2Beach route will become a reality, and a major asset.