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How Charleston's mayoral candidates will prioritize pedestrians, cyclists and alternative transit

Ask the candidates...

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Ahead of Charleston's mayoral election on Nov. 5, Charleston City Paper has partnered with Lowcountry Local First to ask the six candidates pitching themselves to be the city's leader about specific policies that affect small businesses in our community. Each week through Oct. 16, we'll publish the candidates' responses to one of those questions — to read the rest of the answers, visit charlestoncitypaper.com/llfquestions.

What is your plan — including specific policies and priority locations — to improve infrastructure for pedestrians, cyclists, and alternative transit? —Sean Flood, CEO, Gotcha

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Sheri Irwin: I saw first hand the maps for West Ashley where they want to put additional bike paths. Unfortunately, they would be taking peoples' homes and I don't support that. I believe as a free society the city should not try to force people out of their cars. What prompted me to run was when I learned the city wanted to turn the right lanes of 17 and 61 into bus lane only and the left lanes into toll only. I don't support social engineering. If someone would like to open a water taxi and they found a place to do it, say an industrial area that has room for them, I would support that. I would not support something like that it is put in a neighborhood though. The city tried to do that to the Maryville and Ashleyville residents two years ago and that would have ruined their neighborhood.

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Renee Orth: Improved mobility has positive effects on livability, climate crisis (and thus flooding), and economic vitality. My plans include supporting a real rideshare app that makes carpooling easy and fun (think a low-cost Uber and Lyft by and for the people of Charleston), fast-tracking the Low Line, and a dedicated bike and pedestrian lane across the Ashley River. Converting lower King Street to pedestrian only and encouraging CARTA to shift to a fare-free system (like Clemson) are possibilities.

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Mike Seekings: I have long been an ardent supporter and a consistent vote for bike/ped and alternative transit infrastructure. There are two large-scale projects that stand out among the many we must complete: Lowcountry Rapid Transit (LCRT) and the Ashley River bicycle/pedestrian bridge. LCRT is the state's first true mass transit project connecting downtown Summerville to downtown Charleston. As CARTA chairman, I have been at the forefront of this effort since day one, and I will use the full influence of the Mayor's office to move it to completion. The Ashley must also be bridged if we are going to be a connected, multi-modal, and equitable city.

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John Tecklenburg: There's just no way around it: South Carolina, and Charleston in particular, is a dangerous place for pedestrians and bicyclists, and we simply have to get everyone on board with solving that problem. To that end, we've taken several major steps over the past four years, including reconstituting our Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, creating and passing the People Pedal Plan, working with the County and State for full implementation of Complete Streets, working with Charleston Moves to apply for federal funds for a bike-pedestrian bridge over the Ashley River, and more.

Maurice Washington: (no response)

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Gary White: As a resident of Daniel Island I know first-hand the benefits of living in a community that has an infrastructure that supports walkable and bikeable communities. Of course, Daniel Island is a planned community that was designed and built with all its components working cohesively. Much of our city was developed over many years and not master planned. During my tenure on City Council I have supported the City's efforts to provide infrastructure improvements that create a more walkable and bikeable community, including initiatives such as the Low Line and the West Ashley Bikeway and Greenway. As Mayor I will continue to support those initiatives as well as find new opportunities to connect our communities across the city so citizens are given the opportunity to have choices on how they move throughout our city.

To read the rest of the questions, visit charlestoncitypaper.com/llfquestions.

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