Hilton Head Island is the most bicycle-friendly community in South Carolina, according to a ranking by the League of American Bicyclists.
The island’s gold ranking was announced in a town news release Tuesday.
What does that mean?
The Washington, D.C.,-based league looks for investment in bike-friendly infrastructure, education programs and promotion of bicycling.
Locally, it looks more like construction, traffic studies, crosswalk safety and beach bike rides.
American communities are ranked from bronze to diamond each year based on applications to the league. This is Hilton Head’s second time achieving the gold distinction, according to the news release.
Here are four ways Hilton Head is addressing bike friendliness and safety on the island:
Completing the last stretch of mid-island bike pathways
That number is getting bigger: The final stretch of bike path along U.S. 278 between the south end and Mathews Drive was started last week in the Shelter Cove area.
The work led to turning lane closures for drivers on Thursday, Friday and Monday.
The pathway is part of the larger Shelter Cove corridor road project, which aims to make turning into the shopping centers and crossing the road easier between the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office and Palmetto Dunes.
Assessing crosswalk safety
After town engineers added new crosswalk treatments to 11 different un-signalized crossings where the speed limit was 45 mph or higher, town leaders asked for input from the public.
The new crosswalks include reflective signs and pavement markings that alert drivers a crosswalk is near, and overhead lighting has been approved at the intersection near Yacht Cove.
In the 308 responses to a town survey about the crosswalk enhancements, around 86 percent of respondents said they noticed the new improvements and 45 percent said they were effective in improving crosswalk awareness.
Studying traffic on U.S. 278
Two of those were pedestrian deaths on Hilton Head’s U.S. 278 — Charli Bobinchuck, 11, and Ron Titus, 84, were both on or near a crosswalk, according to reports from S.C. Highway Patrol.
Although there haven’t been any deaths on U.S. 278 in 2019, a 65-year-old bicyclist was struck and killed by a dump truck March 20 in Sea Pines near the Plantation Drive-Calibogue Cay Road intersection, The Island Packet has previously reported.
In March, S.C. Department of Transportation officials presented their findings about a speed study on U.S. 278. The agency found that 84 percent of drivers speed on the road — which has a limit of 45 mph.
Council members showed interest in learning about “complete streets” initiatives in late January, although that presentation has not been scheduled yet.
The presentation will be based on a national initiative which advocates for streets designed to serve all users, “including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders of all ages and abilities,” according to its website.
Holding bike month events
Mayor John McCann named May “bike month” on Hilton Head, and the local Bicycle Advisory Committee is marking the month with several events: