City of Charleston votes to enforce stricter parking rules for cyclists

By Liz Segrist
Published Oct. 9, 2013

Trees, signs and parking meters will soon be off-limits to cyclists looking for a place to park their bikes in parts of downtown Charleston.

Charleston City Council approved an ordinance Tuesday that would implement a one-year pilot program prohibiting the parking of bikes on King Street between Calhoun and Spring streets — except in designated parking areas.

Cyclists will be required to park their bikes in designated racks on the street, occupying space previously used as metered spots for cars. The ordinance still requires a final reading.

Each of the five bike corrals in the area has space for 10 bikes. The city tried to pass a similar ordinance a few years ago, as well, but failed to garner enough support.

Charleston Mayor Joe Riley said the ordinance is designed to promote safety by keeping bikes off pedestrian-heavy sidewalks and preventing people from tripping over them.

Joe Calandra, a board member of the pro-cycling nonprofit Charleston Moves, said the ban will suppress the cycling trend as a healthy mode of transportation for residents and tourists.

“The city benefits in many ways from the use of bikes,” said Calandra, adding that bikes create more parking spaces for cars, leave less of an environmental footprint and help residents be healthier.

Councilman Mike Seekings said the objective of the ordinance is to promote biking, not to detract from it. The city will continue to study the addition of more bike racks, and the pilot program will help the city see the demand for the racks, including who is using them and when, he said.

Calandra said he advocates that the city postpone a bicycle parking ban until it can provide either a bike rack on every block or a plan for how many bike racks it will provide and when.

Councilman Dean Riegel was the dissenting vote, with the remaining members voting for the ordinance. Some council members felt there would be no way to enforce the bike parking ordinance.

“We don’t provide parking for all of the cars downtown,” Councilman William Moody Jr. said in response to those against the ordinance. “Maybe we should get valet people to rent places to the bikes.”

Reach Liz Segrist at 843-849-3119.

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