Charleston Bicycle Ordinance to be Refined

August 3, 2010

Investigative Reports

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The NerveThe proposed bicycle ordinance has been in the making for some months now with Charleston City Councilman Michael Seekings leading the effort.

The ordinance was on the agenda for the July 20 City Council meeting, where about 30 citizens generally spoke in favor of it. The city has sought input from citizens and cycle groups.

However, there was disagreement when it came to the issue of bicycle parking. Many felt the ordinance was too burdensome because there are few facilities in the city for bicycle parking, forcing cyclists to park at meters and poles.

Seekings was the first to speak of this dissention when the proposed ordinance came up for discussion.

He asked that the appropriate paragraphs in the ordinance be removed to allow for further consideration. Seekings said that he would come back with an amendment for inclusion in the ordinance within 60 days.

In the meantime, the rest of the ordinance that will require cyclists to stay on the road and not  ride on footpaths will move toward a second reading.

Riders will have to obey traffic laws, and not travel the wrong direction on one-way streets or ignore traffic signals.

There are some exceptions:

Children may ride their small bikes on sidewalks, except in the commercial or school ove lay zones on the peninsula.

  • If the sidewalk is next to a road where the speed limit is 35 mph or above, the adjacent sidewalk can be used by all cyclists unless the road is in a commercial or school overlay district. For the record, most of the roads on the peninsula have 25 mph restrictions; and
  • Cyclists can use sidewalks if there is a dedicated shared-use path at least 8 feet wide similar to the path along the Ravenel Bridge.

Council member James Lewis Jr. was skeptical of the new ordinance, solely because he did not think it would be enforced. Police have better things to do and there is not the necessary manpower, he said.

He thought an education program would be better. Police Chief Gregory Mullen said an education program is in the works. Advertising is planned, and pamphlets will be distributed to bike shops and bike rental shops.