The Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments is studying how to improve pedestrian and bicycle access in the tri-county area.
Charleston Post and Courier | August 10, 2016
More than 2,000 walkers and bicyclists have been injured by motorists in recent years in the tri-county area, and a regional group has launched a study it hopes will improve safety.
The Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments this week launched Walk Bike BCD, a project aimed at developing a “master plan” for improving and connecting pedestrian and bicycle access throughout the region.
Vonie Gilreath, the group’s mobility manager, said the process will take about 10 months and will be paid for with a $200,000 federal grant.
The goals of the study are to develop a plan to make the region safer for pedestrians and bicyclists, prioritize projects, connect existing pathways, and connect walking and bike paths to public transportation.
“With the growth in our region, we want people walking and biking,” Gilreath said, but it needs to be safer.
The group has launched a website where people can complete a questionnaire about bike and pedestrian access in their areas as well as mark on a map specific trouble spots.
Gilreath said her group also will hold “pop-up meetings” at different events and festivals over the next several weeks to help members of the public complete the questionnaire. It also will hold a gathering to collect input from local officials, and in November it will hold three public meetings on the plan.
Jean Crowther, a planning associate with Alta Planning and Design, a consulting group working with the BCDCOG, said her group gathered accident data from 2010-2014 from the state Department of Public Safety and found 2,026 collisions involving pedestrians and bikers.
The actual number of accidents could be higher, she said, because collisions that don’t result in serious injuries often go unreported. Alta has marked the accidents on a map, she said, but the study likely will find more accident-prone areas.
Gilreath said a final report on the study will include recommendations and strategies for the improvements. The regional planning group likely will apply for federal money to pursue improvements. It’s important to complete the study, Gilreath said, because a lot of funding agencies require one.
Kurt Cavanaugh, executive director of Charleston Moves, is a member of the study committee, and said the group plans to use data from existing local studies on bike and pedestrian access.
“The power of this,” he said, “is connecting urban and rural areas.”
But, he said, “the question remains will (the study) sit on a shelf or will it be implemented, and when?”
Reach Diane Knich at 843-937-5491 or on Twitter @dianeknich.