Posted tagged ‘safety’

Cyclists’ Place in Public Space?

August 24, 2010

Charleston and Charlotte newspapers have been abuzz in recent weeks over the safety of bicyclists and their place in the public right-of-way.  The saddest news item among this is the death of neighborhood leader and cycling advocate, Edwin Gardner on a short, otherwise quiet street near his home.  Most stunning must be the vitriol spewed by drivers toward the occupation of roadway by unmotorized vehicles in Charlotte.  Articles such as this about the outpouring for Mr. Gardner were followed by a another reporting a petition to SCDOT by nearly two thousand people urging the addition of bike lanes on Maybank Highway once the road is resurfaced.

A melee in Charlotte began with an article titled “A Cycling Epidemic” in the Charlotte edition of Creative Loafing.  The oddity of the title should clue the reader that ensuing facts in support of the position constituted a piece best suited for The Colbert Report.  The cycling community nevertheless took the article seriously and offered a comprehensive rebuttal, followed by a rally of sorts around an event held by the publication.

The attention got the issue on the front page of Charlotte’s daily newspaper, The Observer. Online reader comments in response to the article “were so venom-filled they had to be cut off,” as noted by an editorial in The Observer three days later.  The editorial is titled “Cyclists, Motorists Alike Should Chill, Obey Laws.” Enough said?  Perhaps, yet The Observer published a story just another three days later – “Fall from Bike Spins LA Mayor into Cycle Advocate.

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Pedestrians Valued on SC’s Most Iconic Drive

May 4, 2010

If you were a business owner, how much would you pay so that your patrons could safely reach your front door?  The answer, in Myrtle Beach at least, is $3,000. 

Sunday’s Charlotte Observer reports that hoteliers along Ocean Boulevard approached the City of Myrtle Beach in search of pedestrian improvements.  The City agreed to split the cost of mid-block pedestrian crossings with them 50/50. 

A mid-block crossing in North Charleston, located where no stop sign or signal exists to pause through-traffic

The improvements are part of a larger effort to make Ocean Boulevard safer and more accessible for everyone.  Bicycle lanes will replace two automobile lanes and a left-turn lane will be introduced. Mid-block crossings are needed for pedestrians because signalized intersections are currently too few and far between.

Myrtle Beach is perhaps fortunate that it could afford to reduce the number of automobile lanes on Ocean Boulevard. City-commissioned studies, according to staff, reported that pedestrians could not safely cross four lanes of traffic on this street even in a crosswalk. Many communities do not have the luxury of spare automobile travel lanes.  The answer to their challenge is good urban design and appropriate engineering, not to throw in the towel.  State law dictates that motorists stop for pedestrians in a crosswalk. A rebuttal that crosswalks should not be provided because too many motorists fail to yield the right of way is akin to arguing for abolishment of speed limits on account of motorists typically driving 5 mph above the posted limit or of turn signal requirements because too few signalize their intentions.

The Myrtle Beach business community and city government concluded their changes are appropriate because Ocean Boulevard is a destination. Getting travelers safely and conveniently to this place is more important than getting motorists through it. Evidence that good urban design is good for business. Good urban design is good for South Carolina.