Cycling advocates call for mayor's support of bike line

Advocates from Charleston Moves gathered at a rally Monday.

Advocates with Charleston Moves gathered Monday at Charleston's City Hall to rally in support of a bike and pedestrian lane over the Ashley River Bridge.

Ken Ingersoll said cyclists are forced to take the long way around the James Island Connector to get into downtown Charleston.

They said the problem is that they're not legally allowed to ride that road either.

"I go through this battle all the time in my head," Ingersoll said. "It's like, um, at what point is it no longer worth it?"

He said there are roughly two miles separating West Ashley and Charleston. Right now, Charleston County is in the midst of traffic studies. So far, a bike lane has only yielded positive results.

"People want to use it," said West Ashley cyclist Martha Beck. "I've already seen people using it. I've seen walkers walking behind the barrels. I've seen bikers behind the barrels. I think it's an important factor for not just recreational riders, but also people who are looking for transportation back and forth."

Beck said there is a community of people who wish to ride to work. Hannah Hollon has been involved with Charleston Moves for two years.

"It's not like people are just going out for a fun ride or a fun walk," Hollon said. "It's that, this is commuting and getting around and it's the only option they have and they should be allowed to bike safely in a city as great and awesome and big as Charleston."

Hollon has her own reasons to support the cause. She lost her father in July, 2011. He was cycling on the James Island Connector.

"I think that my dad's accident really brought to light the fact that we need a good connection from West Ashley to Downtown," Hollon said. "Not just his accident, there have been other instances of pedestrians and cyclists."

Organizers said they gathered seeking Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg's support.

"Our asks are very simple," Kurt Cavanaugh, the executive director of Charleston Moves said. "The first is to Mayor Tecklenburg."

Cavanaugh said so far Tecklenburg has not publicly supported their cause.

Savannah Brennan said she wants this project done by the end of 2016.

"The project has been on the books since 1976," Brennan said. "Approved and funded for over two years. Now is the make it or break it time to push this through."

She said it's shameful the county has been working on this for so long and is seemingly dragging their heels to get it done.

"Since the project was approved in 2014, we've had 28 people lost on our streets," Brennan said. "That's between bike and pedestrian fatalities in Charleston County alone."

"This is Charleston's most important quality of life initiative since the Ravenel was installed with a bike and pedestrian lane in 2005," Cavanaugh concluded.

Charleston Moves vowed to keep this fight alive until the county moves forward.

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