posted 10/27/09 8:25 pm
If passed tonight, it will become legal for bicyclists and skateboarders to ride on some city sidewalks.
Riding a fine line, the only sidewalks benefiting bikers from the change are at least 8 feet wide or adjacent to roads in which the speed limit is at least 35 mph.
“This is an opportunity to improve the situation as it exists today with a focus on making our streets more bicycle-friendly and giving our bicyclists an alternative,” said Charleston City Councilman Gary White.
Councilman White is pushing for the ordinance, which would also allow children under the age of 16 to be able to ride any city sidewalk, except those on commercial roads like King, Meeting, and East Bay.
“At the age of 16, most citizens are going to have a drivers license, know the rules of the road and you can assume that they will understand how to ride safely in the street,” White said.
Some cyclists think the proposal will make it safer to get from “point a” to “point b”.
“Having that additional option to ride on the sidewalk if there are cars coming or pedestrians in the way, having that option is really important to me as a cyclist,” said Ashton Hawkins, who often cycles around the Charleston area.
Others like cyclist and Charleston Bicycle Company shop owner John Glover think the measure will make roads more dangerous for both drivers and cyclists.
“Cars can’t see people coming on the sidewalk, they pull into path of the sidewalk to look both directions to see cars coming and that is often when they interact with a cyclist that is coming along on the sidewalk,” said Glover.
Those in opposition of the sidewalk proposal say that adding bicycle lanes to roads is a safer option for cyclists than sidewalks.
City officials say this is part of the process to give cyclists more options.