With the PCC serving as Secretary to the program Communities for Cycling, this group serves as a forum and best practice exchange for local planners and engineers wanting to learn about model bicycle and pedestrian planning and design. It turns out there are a LOT of planners and engineers itching to learn the newest bike and pedestrian friendly designs. They also share some interesting insights with us about their challenges and opportunities locally and statewide.
Twice this year, the leadership team met with SCDOT leadership. Our leadership team includes the Directors of Planning for Charleston, Greenville (Parks), and Rock Hill (see photo above for a “who’s who”). We met with SCDOT to discuss how we can improve state and local coordination when state streets are designed and repaved. Since so many roads in SC are state owned but locally used, and since so many of those are urban arterials have heavy bicycle, transit, and pedestrian demand, working this out is crucial to building a good street network we can all use.
For some context, we first met in January 2014 with the Deputy Secretaries of Engineering and Planning at SCDOT. The Greenville and Charleston planning directors talked about visions for their communities and opportunities for working better with SCDOT. One topic was the process of applying local street design on state owned roads, as a “Local Public Agency (LPA)”. At the time, the process was too cumbersome, since applications were needed for every project, and the solution was a longer permit – preferably 3 years. To the credit of SCDOT, they knew this issue of making the LPA process easier, and had already been in discussions statewide. Our meeting was one more of those discussions, and SCDOT made this positive change a few months later in May 2014. The red tape was reduced and qualified local engineers and planners can now more effectively design well on their urban, state owned streets. Thanks, SCDOT, for listening.
Our most recent meeting August 22 was equally interesting. We met with the new SCDOT Secretary Oakley and discussed the visions for Rock Hill, Greenville, and Charleston. All 3 cities expressed that bicycle and pedestrian friendly design is essential to their future growth, economies, and community health, and I expressed the work of many other cities & towns with similar visions. Secretary Oakley agreed with these community visions and in prioritizing local plans. And to boot, she wore a bike pin to this meeting. We saw we still have work to do with an SCDOT Complete Streets policy, yet without a doubt this introductory meeting was the start of establishing that face time between local priorities and state planning, which we know is vital to statewide success.