Charleston developing bike, pedestrian network; looking for feedback

Analicia Haynes, Managing Editor

The city of Charleston is currently developing a bike and pedestrian network, and is looking for recommendations on where to create a bike path through campus.

This plan is also intended to link the campus to the city, and eventually connect to the Lake Charleston trails and the Lincoln Prairie Trail that runs through Mattoon.

Charleston City Planner Steve Pamperin said the bike plan incorporates different elements aside from just creating a safe path pedestrians and cyclists can use.

“There’s a lot of pieces within the bike plan besides the physical ‘here’s a bike plan,” Pamperin said.

Pamperin said there are “5 Es” —engineering, education, encouragement, enforcement and evaluation ­— which are incorporated in the bike plan to ensure that a quality product is produced in the end.

For example, he said currently they are working with the Charleston Police Department to make sure officers understand the rules of the road when it comes to bicycles, which complies with the enforcement component.

“We are looking at everything,” Pamperin said.

Brendan Lynch, the advocacy director of Bike and Hike, said the bike plan is “small local governance” at its finest.

“What we’re trying to do is we’re trying to integrate pieces of the puzzle holistically to best serve pedestrians and cyclists both in terms of transportation and recreation,” Lynch said. “And when you look at the comprehensive bike plan, our infrastructure capital isn’t just in terms of tangibles like the path itself, but there’s also a tremendous amount of social capital as well.”

Lynch said there are “shareholders” who helped make the project possible, including the Charleston Tourism Department, the Charleston Chamber of Commerce, the local bicycle community, the local hiking community and Eastern’s art department.

“What we’re doing with the project is taking this community-wide embrace and linking them so we’re kind of in the middle of the chess game…and we’re pulling the pieces together,” Lynch said.

Lynch said since the beginning, the project has been about quality, as well as a way to produce something to be proud of  and bring people from all over to Charleston.

As far as Eastern goes, Lynch said organizers of the bike path want to showcase the university, which is why they are looking for suggestions on where to incorporate a path on campus.

“We recognize that Eastern is a crown jewel of the city… we want to show off a university that we all deeply believe in and are deeply committed to,” Lynch said.

Pamperin and Lynch said they are paying attention to the different details and nuances that are needed along the trails, such as bike racks, bike parking areas, bike maintenance stations and water stations.

They are still looking for feedback on where these areas should be located.

Lynch said they are asking for everyone to reach out and voice their opinions because they want as many ideas on the table as possible.

Organizers are also asking people to recommend different events, landmarks or cultural ideas that they could potentially incorporate into the project.

Pamperin said they hope to have ideas finalized by the end of the semester, but are still working on the plan in general and there is no set finish date.

Analicia Haynes can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]