In Charleston, a Movement to Get Cyclists Their Space

3357134663_b797e01ce1.jpgIn Charleston, bicycles are becoming ever more popular. Is the SC DOT paying attention? (Photo: gail des jardins via Flickr)

Today on the Streetsblog Network, we’re featuring an impressive example of community organizing from Charleston Moves, in South Carolina.

In just five days, the group collected nearly 2,000 signatures on a petition calling for bicycle lanes to be striped on the newly resurfaced Maybank Highway on James Island in that city.

It’s a great effort, but it’s somewhat perplexing that it needs to be made. The group notes that a variety of city, state and federal policy statements adopted over the last few years would seem to support a bike lane on this well-traveled road — but the South Carolina DOT didn’t make a provision for one in its plans:

Approximately two weeks ago Charleston Moves asked SCDOT whether bicycle lanes would (or could) be striped upon completion of the re-surfacing. Though courteous and professional, SCDOT staff would go only so far as to rejigger lane width to provide an additional foot in width on the outside automobile travel lanes — but no striped lanes for people on bicycles….

Signers of the Maybank petition represent a broad cross-section of people. In fact, the signers recognize that changes must be made to accommodate an exploding number of people who are seeking safe means to take short local trips other than by automobile. Forward-looking communities in this state and throughout the world are moving in this direction affirmatively.

The situation in Charleston points up the need for complete streets regulations with teeth, rather than feel-good pronouncements from government officials. Because when the asphalt gets poured, vague statements about livability won’t get translated into paint on the pavement.

More from around the network: Second Avenue Sagas wonders what to do about people who use the subway as a trashcan. Bike Friendly Oak Cliff links to a Sierra Club interview with Copenhagen planning guru Jan Gehl. And Carfree USA posts a CNN report about revolutionary pedestrian improvements to London’s Oxford Circus.