ROCK HILL — A plan to increase bicyclist and pedestrian safety on some Rock Hill streets was approved Monday night after City Council members debated whether adding bike lanes was a good use of city money.
Council member Kevin Sutton spoke against the plan which would add separate lanes and sharrows stretches where cyclists use the same traffic lane as cars to streets such as White Street, Oakland and Charlotte Avenue.
Sutton Mayor Pro Tem John Black and council member Jim Reno voted against the prospective bike lanes and sidewalks plan.
Painting sharrows from Cherry Road to Wilson Street along Oakland Avenue near Winthrop University is projected to cost $6,600. The stretch is less than one mile long and bicycle symbols would be added to the pavement at 250 feet intervals on both sides of the road.
The bike lane plan includes about 15 streets in what the city and Winthrop have identified as the College Town area.
Sutton questioned several proposed projects including the Oakland Avenue sharrows.
And thats supposed to do what, Sutton said. Tell the motorist theres a bicyclist? For $6,600?
The city has received a $40,000 federal grant to enhance bicycle routes in the downtown and campus area. Rock Hill has not specified any source of city money to support the bike lane and sidewalk additions.
The grant money cant be used for anything other than sidewalks, bicycle lanes and beautification, said Bill Meyer, the citys planning and development director.
Rock Hill could use the $40,000 already secured to pay for most of the proposed sharrows projects, Meyer told the council, including the Oakland Avenue work.
The source of the money didnt change his opposition to the plan, Sutton said.
It all comes from the people, he said. It seems like we have more needs in this country than that.
Mayor Doug Echols said the city would be conscientious before spending money on painting roads or adding sidewalks. He voted in favor of the plan.
The bike lanes, which create a loop around downtown Rock Hill, Winthrop and Cherry Road, would benefit businesses, said council member Kathy Pender.
Newly sworn-in City Council member Sandra Oborokumo also voted in favor of the plan.
There are some people who bicycles are their only mode of transportation, Oborokumo said. And they need to be safe, too.
Paul Anderko, member of a local conservative political group, spoke at the meeting, saying the bike lanes would mostly benefit students so let Winthrop pay for it.
Youre spending a lot of money our money, taxpayer money and most people in the city of Rock Hill do not care about bicycle lanes, Anderko said.
Adding bike lanes or sharrows, he said, is just a city effort to feel goody-good about its neighborhoods.
The citys plan to add bike lanes, Echols said in response, is not a superficial one.
Its a road safety issue, he said.
Rock Hills plan for the bicycle corridors connecting downtown and Winthrop could cost up to $300,000 to implement.
Simply having a plan, Meyer said, puts the city in a better position to receive future grants and partner with the S.C. Department of Transportation to paint bike lanes or sharrows in areas where other road work is slated to take place.
If the S.C. DOT is already working with a paint crew, Meyer said, the incremental cost to add on an extra stripe or these symbols you can reduce your costs by 25 percent.
Anna Douglas 803-329-4068