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Transportation Subcommittee Report Revised 6.22

Transportation Subcommittee Report Revised 6.22

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Published by Tom Bradford
Report of the Transportation Subcommittee of the Charleston (SC) Peninsula Advisory Committee
Report of the Transportation Subcommittee of the Charleston (SC) Peninsula Advisory Committee

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Published by: Tom Bradford on May 28, 2014
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Edwin Gardner Peninsula Task Force Mobility Sub-committee June 22, 2012 The Peninsula of Charleston is a unique urban environment. Its size, human scale, architecture and dense network of streets lend itself to many different forms of transportation. The Peninsula is relatively small in size and is broken down into even smaller neighborhoods that are easy to traverse, its historic urban fabric is designed to accommodate safe and enjoyable travel on foot, and it has a connected street network with short blocks that provide many route options. Indeed, this is a unique setting that requires a forward-thinking vision for mobility. Our streets on the Peninsula accommodate about as much automobile traffic as they can. There is little capacity that remains. In fact, for the most part automobile traffic volumes are static. It is expected that traffic congestion will remain relatively static or will increase slightly in the future. There is very little that can be done to improve the experience of traversing downtown Charleston in an automobile. However, there is a tremendous opportunity and available capacity to improve transportation conditions for pedestrians, bicyclists and transit riders. Our resources in Charleston must go toward dramatic improvements to our transit system and to movement on foot and bike. This must be our primary investment in Charleston. Our goal should be that local residents and visitors to Charleston will choose to ride the bus, walk or ride their bike for most trips. For local residents and visitors to make this decision it must be the preferred method of transportation. It must be more affordable, enjoyable and safe to take the bus, walk or ride your bike than to drive your car. Therefore, this sub-committee advocates for a new Mobility Vision for the Peninsula of Charleston that reflects a significant shift in transportation policy towards a more integrated approach to mobility. Our recommendation is that the City of Charleston put its resources into creating a
 environment where transportation planners and engineers routinely design and operate the entire right of way to enable safe access for all users, regardless of age, ability, or mode of transportation. Our goal would be to first implement these policies on the Peninsula, and gradually expand them to the entire city. Recommendations Below is a list of recommendations consistent with the vision outlined above. It represents tasks we identified as priorities that can be accomplished soon
 beginning now and over the next couple of years. We expect this list will be managed and expanded as projects are completed and new opportunities are identified.
Mobility Vision for the Peninsula.
We recommend that the city undertake aggressive steps to devise a consistent peninsula-wide mobility vision (and subsequent plan); its implementation will require significant coordination between various City departments. The
 Edwin Gardner Peninsula Task Force  Mobility Sub-committee Report  June 22, 2012
committee agreed that the peninsula has been vic
timized by a “microcosm” approach to
transportation policy (which oftentimes addresses the specific desires of individual neighborhoods) and that this pattern is not serving the city well
specifically, the current controversy about making Coming and St. Phillip Streets two-way in the vicinity of the College of Charleston campus illustrates this problem. The following recommendations should all become key components of the new mobility vision and plan for the peninsula: 1.
Analysis of Traffic Impacts
. This mobility plan would include the adoption of a new method for analyzing transportation impacts of new development. Heretofore, the
method has been singularly focused on vehicle traffic and conventional vehicle “level of service” rationale. The City of Cha
rleston should pioneer a new method evaluating all modes of travel, thereby emphasizing our transit, bike and pedestrian goals. 2.
DASH Improvements
. Continue to make improvements to the Downtown Area Shuttle (DASH) to attract more riders. We think this must include: 1) the creation of well-designed kiosks at each stop with maps and consistent branding, 2) the introduction of a digital system to make schedule and bus location information readily available both at bus stops and via cell phone application, 3) more frequent service, 4) smaller, cleaner buses (electric or natural gas) that mimic light rail in design, 5) a new marketing/public information campaign, and 6) more consistent driver training and  performance evaluation. The Committee believes the full Task Force should be involved in the upcoming CARTA study of its service on the peninsula, and help it develop a comprehensive vision for how CARTA can improve the DASH, alleviate traffic congestion, and improve the overall quality of life downtown. 3.
Parking Requirements.
 Supplement our regulatory system that mandates on-site  parking for each building with a new system that directs funding to transit, bike and  pedestrian improvements. We can start by permitting an appropriate payment in lieu of on-site parking that will be used to support structured parking facilities, free DASH service, sidewalk/streetscape improvements and bike facilities. The city should also consider improving signage for (and overall awareness of) existing parking garage facilities downtown. 4.
Enable a robust pedicab business as it presents a great opportunity for enjoyable and convenient travel in downtown Charleston. While the City should encourage this industry, it also needs to enforce the quality and safety of the licensed operators. Committee members agreed that earlier complaints about pedicab operations have been successfully addressed. It will form a fact-finding mission to interview: 1) Pedicab company owner/operators, 2) the Chamber of Commerce and CVB, 3) hoteliers/restauranteurs, and 4) Captain Searson of the CPD for the purpose of determining how existing pedicab services can be improved.

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