Bike route could push $42 million into the Lowcountry

A map of the proposed Battery 2 Beach Route (Provided).

By Lia

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) - 'Battery 2 Beach' is a proposed bike route looping Charleston, Mount Pleasant and the area beaches that has been in the works for nearly three years. While the health and safety benefits are well known, the group released new evidence Friday at Shem Creek that the 32-mile bike route could have a $42 million impact on the economy.

"It immediately made sense to us to sort of unify the whole Lowcountry and put a great route through it on foot or on bicycles," Charleston Moves Director Tom Bradford said.

"The study came about because our intern, Tiffany Norton, took our assignment to do a cost-benefit analysis of this route so we could actually go to public officials with some kind of dollar figures of what it would cost and what they would gain from it," he said.

The biggest single number is a boost for tourism, which he says averages $40 million annually.

"Now that's not people paying fees to use the route, it's people coming here enjoying the Lowcountry that much more and that much longer,"{}Bradford said.

He said the analysis was based on a study done in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, which put in a similiar route.{} The appeal to this bike path is not necessarily for long-distance bicyclists, but for anyone looking for convenience.

The route also includes something for history buffs.

"We're working on a historic overlay that gives the historic stopping points all the way along the battery to the beach route. So if you are interested in the history of the Lowcountry, you would know exactly what you are looking at as you go along the B attery 2 Beach route."

According to Bradford, the cost to construct the route would be $20 million based on the study.

Citadel Economic professor and bike advocate, Don Sparks says Charleston needs to stay competitive against the other big tourist destinations.

"I think this economic study gives important evidence of how important this type of transportation can be. And while the costs are pretty high, the estimates show it will be more than paid for in a year or two."

Tiffany Norton who interned with Charleston Moves and worked with Citadel engineering students said her study is{} a conservative estimate.

"The benefits could be even higher," she said. "I hope from this study people will see it is worthwhile and cost effective and bike and walking paths."

The project would need the approval of{}all officials in the route zones.

Charleston Mayor Joe Riley is said to approve of a route through the peripheral area of Charleston. Mount Pleasant has also expressed its interest in the project.