Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Support Safer, Complete Streets for South Carolina

South Carolina, has some of the most dangerous roads in the United States for pedestrians, transit riders or cyclists. Charleston County has a rate of injuries about 3 times any other county in the state. Over the past weekend one pedestrian was killed and another critically injured on Charleston’s streets.

We can reduce this death and suffering by passing the Complete Streets Act H 3656, introduced by Representatives Marvin Pendarvis and JA Moore. Now cosponsored by Representative S. Williams, Garvin, Cogswell and Felder, its a bipartisan bill. H. 3656 which would require the State Department of Transportation to adopt and apply a complete streets policy to new roads and road improvement projects funded by the state. This would include sidewalks, transit stops and bike lanes. Attention to safe pedestrian crossings would be required. The level of facilities required would vary according to the location and type of road planned.

You can help pass this bill right now. Call the Legislative Council in Columbia at (803) 212-4500. Ask for the name of your State Representative and his phone number at the legislator. Phone their office and ask them to sign on as a cosponsor for H 3656 and ask for a call back. You can also use the Find Your SC Legislator page online and send an electronic message to your State Representative. 

While some of these deaths and injuries are the legal fault of the person hit, that makes little difference in the total cost of the injury. The injured still arrive at a local ER, often without insurance for treatment at a potential cost of hundreds or thousands or even millions of dollar with treatment and disability payments extending far into the future. Families lose a breadwinner. Employers lose the help they need for their businesses to function.

For the elderly person or disabled person who can’t cross a dangerous, busy street to get to the bus stop, it’s lost income to CARTA and the risk that bus service may be reduced or ended due to inadequate ridership.  Such Barriers llimit the ability of many  to get to work, senior citizens centers or medical treatment. Money which might support local business goes to Amazon.

Over 50 years after they were constructed, parts of Sam Rittenberg Blvd., Rivers Ave and Dorchester Road where there are no sidewalks. Hundreds of bus stops lack shelters, subjecting transit riders to humiliating waits for the bus in the rain and blistering heat in the summer. Bike lanes are absent throughout the state.

For a tourism focused economy like Charleston’s, the Grand Strand or Beaufort the cost in injury and death can be very high. The people who make our restaurants and hotels operate 24 hours a day are walking, biking and taking transit to work. They’re often out in the dark, in bad weather or in traffic full of frustrated visitors unaccustomed to our road networks. It’s a lethal combination. It places a cruel premium charged for working here on top of the modest wages they accept.

Information on H 3656 and four other bills to improve transit, increase road safety and make affordable housing more available in areas served by transit can be found at https://tinyurl/transitSC2019 online.

Additional Information.

Smart Growth America- Complete Streets Coalition, Plans and Policies
City Paper Editorial - How many people have to die before Charleston becomes safer for pedestrians and cyclists?
Post and Courier Report on Charleston's unsafe Streets.
City Paper Article on three of the Pedestrian & Cyclists Deaths in Charleston this year

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