Little things are important, as is timing.
So here's a cool thing. If you live in the Lowcountry, you have an opportunity, today, to a well-timed little thing that could have an enormous, lasting effect on our communities' quality of life.
The quick summary: SCDOT is about to resurface Maybank Highway. Local cycling advocates asked the DOT to include a bike lane in the project, and the DOT denied the request. Which is pretty much the story of cycling and state agencies in South Carolina.
But here's the sweet part. Earlier this month the US DOT changed its policy on human-powered transport, essentially declaring that bikes are no longer second-class citizens within the nation's transportation system. Add that well-timed development to all the municipal and state policies that DOT managers are ignoring in their short-sighted plans for this project, and you've got a strong case for review.
Now all we need are a few more names on a petition to hand over to bike-friendly civil servants, a little more leverage behind Charleston Moves and a slightly higher profile for the emerging bicycling community in this beautiful city of ours. And once things start rolling our way, we've got more projects in the pipeline that will make riding safer and driving easier.
Sure, it's just a bike lane on Maybank Highway. But if we can demonstrate that cyclists represent an active, engaged, united local movement, we can change the status quo for transportation planning in the Lowcountry. There's not a reason on earth (well, beyond the dreaded "swampass," anyway) why Charleston shouldn't become the Portland of the Southeast -- a coastal city known around the country for its cycling infrastructure, livability and bike-friendly culture.
Even if you're not a cyclist, please join me in signing this petition. Every bike commuter you pass in the Lowcountry is one car that isn't idling in front of you at rush hour, one more parking space, one less person trying to merge. Everything you do to help us take unnecessary cars off the road will make your drive cheaper, shorter and more pleasant. It should also reduce your road taxes.
To sign the petition (and read more about it), go to Bike Charleston's new Advocacy page. While you're there, poke around a bit and read about all the bike-related events that are going on around us. Then come out and ride with us!
Speaking a riding, here's a scene I shot last year during the SC State Criterium Championships ... which just happen to be returning to Hampton Park on April 22. It's a fun day at the races. (April 19 note: For the record, the organizer's website was wrong, and the actual date of the event was April 18. So I knew about it because I work in a bike shop and live up the street... and apparently everybody who needed to know knew... but what about interested outsiders? Makes you go "hmmm.")