Great coverage, Paul! But I must make two minor corrections.
First, the evening lecture attendance in paragraph three was not 60 people but over 160 people. The Wachovia Auditorium's capacity is 175, and there was only standing room available.
Second, the 0.7% budget for bicycle facilites in Portand was the percentage of the city's transportation budget towards bicycle facilities and not the state's.
All in all great write-up!
I heard you stayed behind and helped Dominic clean-up after his instructional messenger bag sewing class on Saturday afternoon. I wanted to express my thanks and the co-op's thanks for staying to help. I attempted to track you down to invite you to a wind down session Sunday night when the dust had settled, but without any luck.
About the article, whether it was by the editor's choice or your own, I felt that it might have gone too far out its way to reinforce stereotypes about "fixed gear urban cyclists." In actuality, perhaps only 10 out of approx. 75 fit this fixed geared bill.
The real story in my mind was 75+ people attended from eight states (Louisiana, Maine, Kentucky, Michigan, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida) to see Charleston's biking community. What did they think about peninsular Charleston? They were impressed by our high mode-share of biking and felt that on the whole, drivers gave them enough room and respect on the road to not fear personal injury.
That's a good series of questions and comments about planning around weather, bicycling and dating, and the danger and impracticality of bicycling for many people right now, Mr. Fish. I will address them in that order.
I typically keep track of weather forecasts several days in advance so that a storm front doesn't catch me off guard. When the rain is too intense, I will drive my truck to work, but if the rainfall will be light in the morning and evening when I commute then I don't mind a little rain. I wear a coat and bring a change of pants. Not to bore you with details, but in the rain I would ride my single speed because it has fewer mechanical parts to get wet.
About dating, I met my girlfriend of two years while riding bicycles, and we ride together when going out to dinner. She got a flat once so we dropped the bike off at a friend's house nearby and she did ride on my handlebars. That's just my experience and I enjoy it. I don't expect this to be everyone's experience. I deliberately chose a place to live where multiple transportation options are available to me.
I appreciate that you recognize in many places biking can be hazardous or "impractical and unreliable." The point of switching the use of a traffic lane is to make new transportation choices practical and available to more people.
Let me come at this from the perspective of a sometimes motorist. I have driven over that bridge several mornings in rush hour. For me it took a mix of luck and guts to cross from Hwy 61 and make the Lockwood exit, and once or twice I missed. Consider, if there was one less lane, merging could be simpler and safer. With fewer people pausing to merge, traffic flow could speed up.
Also consider that hundreds of homes are along the West Ashley Greenway. They will all immediately shift from having an impractical option of biking to a practical one. Traffic engineers say that a 10% shift to bikes will increase car traffic flow by 25%, but hey that's just one out of four lanes.
My polo bike is a toy. My road bike and single-speed are for getting to and from work, getting groceries, and going to restaurants.
I prefer to call it sharing a lane rather than sacrificing a lane. The lane will still be used afterall, not buried at sea. Scoot pointed out that lane widening projects induce traffic and never permanently solve a problem. Looking at the bike/ped path on the Ravenel, I think its safe to say bike/ped projects also induce traffic. I'll wager that since the Ashley River Bridge is flat and shorter, it will see more active use than the Ravenel.
I liked you response. You should come visit Charleston for Bike!Bike!Southeast! with some friends next month. http://bikebikecharleston.com/
I will concede that the new multi-modal federal transportation policies will have an effect on people's lifestyles, but it will not tell people how to get from point A to point B. Instead it will provide more choices for safe transportation. The switch comes after 60 years of another lifestyle policy that encouraged car ownership and increased the public's risk of heart disease, childhood obesity, adult onset diabetes.
I will answer your question. The $430k already spent to study the bridge was to see if your solution would work. The only difference was the building materials. SCDOT would never approve a wooden structure so concrete and steel was used for the design. Engineers spent months measuring the bridge's geometry, diving to take inventory and measure of its pilings, then modeling the information on computers, and designing a cantilevered bike path and testing it against the computer model. It was unfortunate that ultimately the expensive process came back with only solutions that would fail.
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