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Hilton Head business owner puts up fence blocking bike path into gated community

Tips for safe bike riding on Hilton Head

Ron Knight, founder of Kickin' Asphalt Bicycle Club, talks about bike safety while riding on Hilton Head Island on Wednesday, June 1, 2016, on Hilton Head.
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Ron Knight, founder of Kickin' Asphalt Bicycle Club, talks about bike safety while riding on Hilton Head Island on Wednesday, June 1, 2016, on Hilton Head.

This article has been updated with a statement from a representative of the office park property owner.

Bicyclists leaving Hilton Head Plantation this week ran into a roadblock.

The owner of Main Street Office Park near the gated community installed a chain-link fence that crosses the bike path between the gate entrance to Hilton Head Plantation and a traffic circle, according to an email from the community’s property owners association.

Now, the fence blocks the parking lot and the bike path owned by Hilton Head Plantation, pushing riders into the road and a traffic circle that separates the community from U.S. 278

“I have property owners who come to a dead end,” Community general manager Peter Kristian said Wednesday. “It dumps them out in Whooping Crane — the busiest road we have. And they end up in the traffic circle, the most dangerous intersection in Hilton Head Plantation.”

The bike path that runs next to the southbound lanes of Whooping Crane Way empties into the parking lot of Main Street Office Park. In the past, cyclists or walkers have crossed the parking lot and Main Street to the town-owned leisure path on the other side of the traffic circle on Whooping Crane Way.

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A bike pathway shown in purple on Whopping Crane Way in Hilton Head Plantation abruptly ends in the Main Street Office Park Parking lot. This week, the owner of the office park put up a fence to stop cyclists and pedestrians from using the path. Katherine Kokal Google Maps

Kristian said Main Street Office Park’s owner told him the fence was installed for “liability issues,” and the owner “made no attempt to contact (Hilton Head Plantation) about any liability concerns, or that they were considering such drastic actions.”

According to an statement from Katie Thompson with Low Country Real Estate of the Southeast sent after this article was originally published, the owner of the office park where the real estate office is located offered some compromises.

“The owner offered to donate (at no cost) a portion of land to extend the sidewalk all the way to Main Street in order to assist with creating a safe pathway for his residents ... The owner also offered to immediately take down the fence if Mr. Kristian would agree to provide a letter stating that the Hilton Head Plantation Owners Association would assume liability if someone was to get injured while walking or biking through the complex,” Thompson said.

The two disagree on how the path use has changed over time.

“Residents and visitors have used this connection for decades without incident,” Kristian said Wednesday.

But Thompson said it’s getting busier.

“There are more cars and bike riders in the parking lot than 30 years ago so it has become increasingly unsafe to have bikes riding through a busy parking lot,” according to her statement.

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A fence blocking bike traffic near the entrance to Hilton Head Plantation on July 3, 2019. A property owners association near the pathway put up the fence to avoid liability since it empties into a parking lot. Carol Pollard-Huester Special to The Island Packet

Kristian emailed the nearly 10,000 residents in the community about the fence: “We will provide you with the property manager’s contact information, and politely request that you contact them and all the businesses that are located in the Office Park to express your feelings about the action that has been taken with no notification whatsoever.”

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Katherine Kokal moved to South Carolina in 2018 after graduating from the University of Missouri and loves everything about the Lowcountry that isn’t a Palmetto Bug. She has won South Carolina Press Association awards for in-depth and government beat reporting. On the weekends, you can find Kati doing yoga and hiking Pinckney Island.
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