ESMMYC Input at York County Council Public Hearing

Re: Public Input on Community Needs and Priorities for Housing, Public Facilities, and Economic Development

This testimony for the March 25th public hearing on community needs and priorities is on behalf of the Bike/Ped Coalition (BPC) of York County and Eat Smart Move More York County (ESMMYC) advocacy committees.  BPC is a collaborative, community-based coalition in support of safe pedestrian pathways and cycling throughout York County, South Carolina.  Our coalition includes members from municipalities and the county, government agencies, non-governmental groups, sports and recreational clubs, local businesses, and interested citizens.  BPC is working to ensure and expand the presence of safe pathways for walking or cycling in York County. ESMMYC is leading a unified mission to make the healthy choice the easy choice in York County.

As you are aware, the South Carolina Secretary of Transportation has issued a departmental directive requiring the consideration of accommodations for bicycling, walking, and transit in the design, construction, maintenance, and operations of the state transportation network.  The South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) will work with the state’s regional transportation planning partners and regional transit providers to identify and include walking, bicycling and transit needs as part of their regional visioning plans[1]

York County should adopt a community vision and support facilities that enable residents to walk and cycle safely.  Too many of our arterial and collector roads lack a continuous pathway on even one side of the street.  Too many of our residential developments are pipe-stems or walled and sometimes gated.  These have a single entrance or exit, approached by circuitous internal streets.  Residents often cannot walk safely to a convenience store or community park. If we someday have a county-wide transit service that relied on neighborhood or arterial meeting points, people would need to be able to approach them by sidewalk and have a safe place to wait. 

Safe pedestrian and cycling facilities are necessary – for low-income residents who can’t afford a car for each adult and for exercise.  South Carolina ranks 10th for adult obesity and third for childhood obesity (ages 10-17)[2].  South Carolina ranks 5th for pedestrian fatality rates[3] at 3.25 per 100,000 residents per year.  SCDOT Pedestrian and Bicycle Crash Data for 2016-19 show that York County experienced 17 pedestrian and one bicyclist deaths and 145 pedestrian and 55 bicyclist injuries. 

Without safe facilities to walk or cycle, York County will remain a car-dependent community.  Those who cannot drive due to disability or income will remain isolated from work, education, produce markets, grocery stores with healthier food options, and other important destinations. 

We ask you to support new developments that are designed to be walk and bicycle-friendly, fill in gaps, and provide funds for safe walking and bicycling pathways on collector and arterial roads. This would support local economic development, the ability of lower-income residents to earn and save money, safe alternatives to car transportation, and the health and wellness of all York County residents and workers overall.

We would be glad to respond to questions.

Sincerely yours,

Elizabeth Duda, BPC co-chair, ESMMYC past chair
Ben Ullman, BPC co-chair
Luther Dasher, BPC
Dr. David F. Keely, ESMMYC
Steve Yaffe, BPC
Advocacy Committees
Bike/Ped Coalition of York County
Eat Smart Move More York County

The above comment was read by Dr. David Keely at the March 25 meeting, and emailed to the Council Chair Christi Cox and Councilmember Tom Audette, and Catawba COG representative Grazier Rhea.

Bike/Ped Coalition of York County member, Steve Yaffe, of Yaffe Mobility Consulting, also shared an addendum for York County reference.

[2] 2019 data
[3] 2018 data