Rock Hill leaders endorsed a set of ideas Monday to jazz up the college town atmosphere around Winthrop University - but don't start pedaling your bike down Cherry Road just yet.
City officials said they'll take a closer look at a call for bike lanes on the main thoroughfare on the northwest side of campus. Specific options will be unveiled at a City Council planning retreat in January, new City Manager David Vehaun said.
Until then, bike lanes and a host of other recommendations will remain in the concept stage.
"I don't want to be seen tonight as making a decision to narrow lanes on Cherry Road to make room for bicycle lanes," Councilman Kevin Sutton told colleagues before a unanimous vote in favor of the overall college town plan.
Cherry Road could get a makeover through an upcoming proposal for "Pennies for Progress," which sets aside $1.2 million for streetscape and safety upgrades along a stretch from Winthrop Coliseum to District Three Stadium.
Voters will decide in a June referendum whether to approve York County's 1-cent road improvement sales tax for a third time since 1997.
The idea for bike lanes drew skepticism from Sutton and other limited government stalwarts who see them as a frivolous use of taxpayer money and a poor fit on a four-lane highway.
Mayor Doug Echols says Rock Hill must develop alternate forms of transportation so cars aren't the only way to get around town.
Among potential changes: bike lanes, enhanced crosswalks, traffic-calming measures and lowered speed limits. Longer-term plans call for buried utility lines and a green median strip.
Councilwoman Kathy Pender portrayed the proposals as a potential boost for shops and small businesses around the Winthrop campus.
"If we make Cherry Road safer and more pedestrian-friendly, I'm all for that," she said. "I think it makes perfect sense."
A citizens group suggested many ways to make Rock Hill a better college town, including a village of shops and terrace cafes along Camden Avenue, an urban neighborhood on the redeveloped Bleachery site and a trolley bus to ferry students to downtown and special events.
The demolition of the Bleachery complex - slated to wrap up by the end of the year - has provided a much-needed shot of momentum, says Winthrop President Anthony DiGiorgio.
"It's been very hard for us to market the university when people take a drive around and see 2 million square feet of derelict space that doesn't look very inviting," DiGiorgio told local radio station WRHI. "That's a major piece."
In the meantime, crews are installing thermal crosswalks this week on Cherry Road in initial steps to improve pedestrian safety. Students won't have to dash across four lanes of traffic as they travel to and from classes.