Ferry boats could get bicyclists downtown

Ferry boats could get bicyclists downtown
June 07 10:14 2018 Print This Article

For many years, Charleston-area bicyclists have been clamoring for a way to safety get their bicycles from West Ashley to downtown Charleston and back. A plan to block off a lane of vehicular traffic on the Legare Bridge and dedicate it to bicyclists was nixed by a SCDOT feasibility study. A plan for an $18 Million stand-alone bicycle bridge across the Ashley River collapsed when a $12 Million federal grant request was denied. Why not get bicyclists across the river using a ferry service?

West Ashley resident Mike Duck attended the Charleston Parks Conservancy sponsored public meeting to address ways to upgrade the Greenway and Bikeway bicycle and pedestrian trails, which cover a combined 11 miles in West Ashley. An avid boater and bicyclist, Duck suggested running a ferry service from Higgins Pier, which is at the terminus of the Bikeway trail near the Maryville neighborhood, to the Brittlebank Park pier downtown. He estimates that the trip would take about 10 minutes and that passengers (including pedestrians) could buy round-trip tickets for about $5 to make it economically feasible.

Duck pointed to existing ferry services in Savannah and Buffalo. A transit agency operates the Savannah Belles Ferry system to three locations, departing every half hour from 7 am to midnight. The Bikeway would have to be lighted to make trips feasible after dark. I support a private sector approach for a ferry system. Let the City of Charleston grant permits to ferry operators and collect business license fees. Why not allow vendors to sell bottled water at the piers? How about a making private sector kayak rental services available at city-owned piers, which could also pay business licenses. We can get bicyclists downtown without putting taxpayers on the hook.