Stephanie Hunt, chairwoman of Charleston Moves, made some really great points about the importance of biking in a community – and specifically in the Lowcountry – at the dedication of signs marking the Battery 2 Beach route today. Here’s the speech minus any add libs. (I underlined what I rung the loudest for me.)
Charleston Moves is proud and honored to invite you all here today. In this room are leaders from the economic development community. Elected representatives. Transportation professionals. Urban planners. City and county civil servants. Recreation professionals. Health professionals. And yes, even a few bike jocks.
We are celebrating an unveiling, a symbolic and significant step forward in linking the Battery and the Beaches with a bicycle and pedestrian pathway. But really, we are celebrating the linking of much more. This is the linking together of each of you—those of you from different but connected municipalities and in different areas of professional expertise and passion with one common vision – moving Charleston forward.
Charleston Moves is certain that working together, in bold and visionary steps, to make the region much more bicycle- and pedestrian friendly is one way to do that.
As important as today’s unveiling is, Charleston Moves is advocating for much more than posting some signs and striping a few bike lanes with paint. That my friends, is low hanging fruit and a relatively inexpensive and easy fix, and frankly, is so obviously a broad community benefit – it terms of public safety, public health, environmental health, traffic congestion mitigation, economic competitiveness — that it should be a priority, without question, and without a fight.
Here’s what Charleston Moves knows.
We know that bicyclists and pedestrians are an indicator species of a vibrant metropolitan area. They are a harbinger of a high quality of life. Bicyclists should be encouraged and embraced, not marginalized, or considered a nuisance to corral or a faction to be accommodated as an afterthought once car throughput is resolved.
Bicyclists represent all factions of this community – South of Broad professionals; college students – including college students who follow the rules of the road and those who do not; blue color workers who can’t afford a car; the MUSC researcher who puts his bike on the front on the Carta express bus he catches in Summerville every morning then cycles from the bus shed at the Visitor center to his lab off Calhoun Street; and even middle-aged moms from Mount Pleasant, like me, who prefer the pleasant adventure of bike commuting to driving a minivan any day.
Charleston Moves board members likewise represent a broad range, and I’d like to ask those board members who could be here today to please stand. We are lawyers, engineers, professors, doctors, retired executives, corporate CEOs, marketing professionals, small business owners – thank you for your commitment to this organization and to the work of making Charleston more bicycle-friendly.
Today is Charleston Moves opportunity to thank all of you here for supporting us, working with us, occasionally bearing with us and putting up with us. And this is also a moment when we boldly ask you to do even more. Because the Charleston region is still behind the curve. We are playing catch up, and frankly this community cannot afford to lag behind any more. You show me a leading world class city – New York City, Chicago, Washington DC, Paris, Barcelona, Greenville – and I will show you a city that is proactively bicycle-friendly and not car-centric. Charleston is now in the national and international spotlight, and tourists who come here and businesses who look to expand here expect the type of infrastructure already in place in these other cities. We must do more.
Charleston Moves is responding by expanding our capacity to advocate. We are soon launching a fundraising campaign and a national search to hire a full-time professional director, who our board will work with to expand our programs to promote bicycle safety and bicycle-friendly businesses, to help the City launch a successful Bike Share program, etc.
We will be approaching some of you for support. We will be asking of some of you for advise and counsel. And most importantly, we look forward to continue working with each of you here, toward our common goal, improving the quality of life in Charleston.
We’re delighted to celebrate the Battery to the Beach – but we’re going from the Battery to the Beach and beyond. Let’s get there together.
- Stephanie Hunt