Cyclists say there is not enough space for them and vehicles after widening of Silver Bluff Road

Friday, October 4, 2019
News 12 at 6 o'clock/NBC at 7

AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) -- It took years for the county and state to complete the widening on Silver Bluff Road in Aiken. There have been some hiccups, and people who live there say there's another one.

Neighbors say it isn't safe for cyclists. The bike markings here are really close to traffic but the state says that was by design.

Cars fly down this road and the speed limit is 35.

"It's a very, very high traffic area," said Chris Charlton, with F3 Aiken Cycling.

That's why Chris Charlton says his cycling group avoids Silver Bluff Road. Despite some markings, it's not safe.

“Cyclists argue there's not enough space for them and the vehicles, and there's also a curb here if they have to get out of the way," said Charlton.

The road has bike sharrows or shared-lane spaces.

"This is just making it more dangerous for cyclists," said Charlton.

The city seemed to agree back in 2015. Council records show commissioners voted 6 to 1 against shared lanes citing safety issues. Federal recommendations only allow sharrows in 35 mile per hour zones.

Later, the speed limit was lowered to 35.

"They didn't make a bad situation safer, I'll put it that way," said Alan Ford, an Aiken resident

South Carolina DOT says right of way issues and funding kept an actual bike lane from plans.

The project cost over $6 million to complete.

Some residents say they are happy with the way it turned out.

"This does make me more alert, having these stamps on the road," said Ford.

But with the lack of space, cyclists say they are staying away.

"I appreciate the city making those efforts, just if we could make 'em and kind of hear what the citizens are saying in Aiken, and maybe have a little more effective planning," said Charlton.

SC DOT just finished this project in early September. They say they were following the plans provided.

It's meant to be a shared lane space and it follows guidelines. SC DOT says there is the potential for a sidewalk expansion in the future. But in terms of adding a bike-specific lane, that's not in the works.