In November 2013 a new Aiken County Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee was chartered by the MPO to serve as a citizen’s advisory committee on implementation of the Aiken County urbanized and non-urbanized Bicycle Pedestrian Plans. PCC Board member, Tom Lex, is chairman of the Aiken County BPAC.
“We lack wide shoulders, we have no bike lanes – things like that,” Lex said. “I’d like to get that more in our area … We need those engineer features on roadways. I’m an avid cyclist, and I cycle a lot of miles and ride a lot of different roads. We need to focus on trying to get our area more bike-friendly and willing not to just rely on our motor vehicles. (Aiken Standard)
During Bike Month in May, the Aiken County BPAC put on free educational sessions to educate cyclists, pedestrians and motorists about their rights, rules and responsibilities. “There’s a perception by a percentage of motor vehicle operators that cyclists don’t belong on the roads,” Lex said. “We want motor vehicle operators to understand how they can drive safely when bicycles are on the road. It’s a two-way street: Cyclists need to know how to ride safely. They have to respect motor vehicle operators just like motor vehicle operators have to respect cyclists.” (Aiken Standard)
In 2012 Aiken County and the City of Aiken, in partnership with the Augusta Regional Transportation Study (ARTS), commissioned development of a regional Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan with the intent of improving the area’s bicycling and pedestrian environment. ARTS functions as a bi-state Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) in accordance with federal metropolitan planning requirements. The South Carolina Subcommittee of ARTS (SC ARTS) represents the interests of the cities of Aiken, North Augusta, Burnettown and Aiken County with ARTS and the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT). SC ARTS does not lead the implementation of transportation projects, including bicycle and pedestrian improvements, but serves as the formal agency that plans and programs transportation improvement within the SC ARTS area. Improvement projects and programs are implemented by Local and State jurisdictions.
The Aiken County, SC Urbanized Area Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan (PLAN) was developed with input from the public and interested stakeholders in 2012 and SC ARTS approved the PLAN in August 2012. Implementation of the PLAN will require continued input from the public and interested stakeholders. Consequently the PLAN recommended the formation of a Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) to serve as the focal point for making implementation recommendations to SC ARTS and the Local Jurisdictions. The six implementation areas from the PLAN include the following: engineering, education, enforcement, evaluation, encouragement and equity.
For the non-urbanized areas outside the ARTS boundary but within Aiken County, the Lower Savannah Regional Bicycle and Pedestrian Study will be utilized for recommendations. This study was developed by the Lower Savannah Council of Governments. Similar to the Aiken County Urbanized Plan, the Lower Savannah study also has six implementation areas (engineering, education, enforcement, evaluation, encouragement and equity).
The purpose of the Charter is to formally document the creation of a 12 member Aiken County Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee. The charter was developed by members of the new committee and approved by SC ARTS. The committee focus is on the urbanized areas of Aiken County represented by SC ARTS as well as the Aiken County non-urbanized areas of Aiken County included in the Lower Savannah Council of Governments (LSCOG) region. The Charter defines the BPAC mission, vision, membership, committee organization and meetings and the Charter effective date and duration.
The BPAC is established to advise SC ARTS and the County and Local Jurisdictions on implementation of the PLAN and other opportunities to promote safe bicycling and walking in Aiken County. In this advisory capacity the BPAC has no authority to implement or direct implementation of any activities by functions as a strong advocate for a bicycling and walking friendly Aiken County.