Big news for coastal bicyclists this week! On Monday, Gov. Haley signed bill S.1375 into law, allowing communities to file exemptions to allow bicyclists and pedestrians to use controlled access highways. The death of Dr Mitch Hollon last July brought the issue into the spotlight, and Charleston Moves and Coastal Conservation League have worked tirelessly to pass this law and improve bicycling for Charleston residents. Before this amendment sponsored by Sen. Campsen (R-Charleston) passed, SC DOT controlled enforcement of the prohibition of non-motorized traffic on such roadways without exception.
In the case of the James Island Connector, the limited access bridge offers the safest way for people to travel between downtown and James Island. Its six foot shoulder can accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians, however following Dr Hollon’s death, re-examination of the law regarding bike and foot traffic on such roadways lead to a ban, forcing Charleston bicyclists to use the less convenient and more dangerous Wappoo Bridge on Folly Road. This issue of access is not likely to arise with many controlled access highways around the state, but the nature of our coastal region and bridges mean that a ban like this severely limits residents’ ability to use a bicycle for transportation.
Now, this does not mean that the James Island Connector is open for you to ride just yet. The City of Charleston must still file for an exemption under the new law demonstrating that the Connector is the fastest and safest option for bicyclists and pedestrians. Charleston’s dedication to becoming a truly bicycle friendly city and the many passionate, active advocates in the area make it seem likely that the ban will be lifted without too much delay. We look forward to sharing that announcement with you and to celebrating this victory for bicycle access with Charleston Moves and the Coastal Conservation League!