With residents’ input, communities might become safer for bicyclists and pedestrians.
The Bike/Ped Task Force, part of the Eat Smart Move More York County coalition, isasking county residents to share their bicycling habits and what amenities they would like to see in their communities, said Luther Dasher, advocacy chairman for the task force.
“We hope we can make York County a much safer place to ride,” said Dasher, an active bicyclist for more than 30 years, nearly all of that in York County.
The task force, formally the Rock Hill Bike/Ped Task Force, has worked to make Rock Hill a bike friendly community. The Rock Hill Outdoor Center includes cycling venues, athletic fields, trials and green space for other activities. The task force wants to continue that trend throughout the county, Dasher said.
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”We’re trying to make a healthier York County,” he said. “We’ve made a lot of progress.”
Planning officials from both Fort Mill and Tega Cay recently joined the task force to establish connectivity between the communities for bicyclists and pedestrians, Dasher said.
“Making sure we are included is the biggest thing,” he said.
The goal is to connect bicycle and walking trails from western York County north through Rock Hill to Fort Mill and Tega Cay to make riding safer and bring more cyclists to the area, Dasher said.
“We’re trying to bring people to use the facilities we are providing,” he said.
In 2010, Eat Smart Move More York County conducted a survey specific to Rock Hill, said Janet Wojcik, grants chairwoman. With the growth in the county, she said it was time to do another survey.
“We’ve done a lot in five years,” she said.
Data from the county-wide survey, which focuses on cycling, will help task force members identify what areas need to be improved, where bicycle routes may be needed or expanded and what amenities need to be established, Dasher said.
“We’re hoping to get a lot of feedback from the bicycling community,” he said. “We can fine tune what we have started and make it better.”
The survey also asks residents about education of cyclists and motorists and infrastructure needs, Wojcik said.
“We want to get a feel for what is currently going on in the county and what people are interested in,” she said.
Dasher stressed that anyone who walks, runs, uses trails or is interested in those types of activities should fill out the survey. Wojcik said so far, the least input has come from western York County and she’s hoping more residents there participate in the survey.
With the new S.C. 21 bridge near Riverwalk, which includes bike lanes on each side, connectivity into Fort Mill and Tega Cay is needed to tie the communities together, Dasher said.
“It’s a good starting point with the bridge,” he said. “To make it easy for people to ride bikes here is key.”
The task force has already worked with the SCDOT to sign three major bicycle routes in York County – the Central York County Bike Route, Kings Mountain Bike Route and Reservation Bike Route, Dasher said. The Fort Mill route will be signed this month and the Nimitz route will be signed soon after.
The task forces efforts have been funded through a variety of sources, including two rounds of grants from Healthy SC Initiative funding, which provides funds through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as part of the Prevention Fund of the Affordable Care Act, Wojcik said. DHEC oversaw the grant for all the counties statewide.
Those funds, which ended in 2014, paid for the survey and for signs at local bike trails. The survey responses could open the door for more improvement opportunities.
“If we want to look for more funding, we’ve got to have preliminary data,” Wojcik said.
The survey results should be shared by the fall, she said. Wojcik said responses will be used for strategic planning throughout the county through the task force and local officials.
“A lot of people can really benefit from the results of this,” she said. “People are always looking for alternative transportation.”
Wojcik said encouraging bicycling and walking will help cut back on traffic on roads and helps the environment.
The task force also wants to work with developers to make bike trails a part of new developments, Dasher said. He said including city planners in discussions will help them to know what the task force is trying to accomplish and vice versa.
“We need to make sure there are ways to get from one community to the next,” Dasher said. “We want to ensure everyone is on the same page so we can work together to make it even better for everybody.”