Hello Greenway friends,
First of all, I hope that everybody has weathered Irma well. I ran the Greenway after the storm and only saw one spot where a tree was blocking the trail. I could get past it but likely bikes could not. Hopefully the City is able to clear that quickly.
Over the past couple weeks much of the western portion of the Greenway has been paved with blacktop (the section between Stinson Dr. and Parkdale Dr. is still dirt/gravel). I’ve been out on it a few times and it looks good even though I am mixed on whether or not the paving is a good thing.
From a personal use perspective, I liked the gravel/dirt. I am a runner and the gravel/dirt is a bit more forgiving on my knees. Also, I fear that the heat radiating off the blacktop in mid-summer is going to be punishing. The section passing through the Clemson Extension Farm as there is no shade there will be particularly intense. On the other had, if the smoother, more consistent surface helps others more feel comfortable using the Greenway, and if it facilitates more bike-commuting, then I will view it as a positive change overall.
On some of my recent Greenway excursions I have asked other users what they think of the change. Opinions ranged from full support (“I love it!”, “As an old lady, I feel more comfortable [on the blacktop]”, “Mostly I bike on the Greenway, so this is a good thing”, “Now I’ll be able to take my roadbike [from Byrnes Down] to John’s Island without being killed” referring to riding along 17) to disappointment (“I don’t like it”, “It is less of a GREENway now”, “I liked the rustic feel”). One gentleman said that he lived along the Greenway before and after the eastern portion was paved and he noticed that a lot more people, particularly kids, began using the Greenway. I hope that this increase in use happens again.
In other Greenway related news, Charleston County Council voted down the proposed bike lane crossing the Ashley River. Like the paving of the Greenway (and most public works projects) this one had strong opinions on both sides. The vote seemed to swing on a traffic study conducted by the County that estimated travel times to the peninsula from Folly Rd. would increase by a minute at morning rush hour (this would increase to two minutes by 2028). It looks like the only way that cyclists and pedestrians are going to get a dedicated route across the Ashley in the relatively near future will be on the James Island Connector.
Looking forward, there are other projects that are coming to the Greenway and Bikeway. I’ll write about those a bit next time.
Until then, enjoy the coming cool weather and I will see you on the trail!