Mount Pleasant, other communities seeking bicycle-friendly designation from league
The Post and Courier
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Mount Pleasant Town Administrator Mac Burdette is sure the bike paths here are greener.
After reading that Greenville had received a bronze designation from the League of American Bicyclists ranking its bicycle friendliness since 2005, he thought Mount Pleasant could do the same or better.
The league tries to promote and advocate for the American cyclist. One of those ways is to rate towns based on bicycle-friendliness and offer expert guidance on what the town could do better.
Summerville, Goose Creek and Charleston recently applied for the designation, and North Charleston has discussed it informally.
Mount Pleasant is developing a plan as part of its application process.
Vonnie Gilreath, senior planner with the Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments, said applying to become bicycle friendly is a yearlong process, adding that is the neat part about it.
"It gets everybody together to do an assessment ... to see what areas they need to work on," she said.
On Sullivan's Island, a committee of volunteers has formed to apply for the designation.
"Bicycles are as much a part of Sullivan's Island as is the beach. Therefore, it is appropriate to recognize the significance and benefits of bicycles on the island in terms of recreation, exercise and importance to the environment," said Andy Benke, Sullivan's Island town administrator.
"By achieving the bicycle-friendly community designation, Sullivan's Island sends a message that welcomes cyclists by providing safe accommodations," Benke said.
The League of American Bicyclists rates communities based on five criteria, one of them being encouragement.
In May, Mount Pleasant launched a series of Friday picnic bike rides from Town Hall to areas around town to encourage riding.
Mayor Billy Swails said no future major route in town would be built without a bike path. The town is set to widen portions of U.S. Highway 17 throughout town, and a marked bike lane would be included.
Swails said most of the roads in Mount Pleasant are wide enough for vehicles and bicycles, but bike lanes simply haven't been painted.
Dan Kelley, a Mount Pleasant town planner who bicycles to work each day, said one such route is the Charleston Moves Battery to Beach route, a path being developed by Charleston, Mount Pleasant and Sullivan's Island.
It would begin at the Charleston Battery, cross the Ravenel Bridge and end at the beach on Sullivan's Island.
The town also plans to improve bicycle and pedestrian paths on the Ben Sawyer Causeway, a mutual plan with Sullivan's Island.
In North Charleston, Ryan Johnson, staff assistant to the North Charleston mayor, said the city is just getting started.
Johnson said the community would be eligible because its new City Hall includes bike racks and shower facilities so that employees could bathe after a sweaty ride. Sidewalks are required in all new neighborhoods.
Johnson said they are trying to encourage people to car pool, walk and bicycle to work when they can, but have not yet developed a plan required to apply for the designation from the League of American Bicyclists.
Gilreath said it's good to have the community designation because it shows an interest in taking cars off the road and promoting health.
Gilreath said it's her hope every community in the state would do the same.
"I'd like to see the whole state bicycle friendly, one small step at a time," she said.
Reach Jessica Johnson at 937-5921 or email@example.com.