by Elizabeth W. Duda
York County, SC (Jan. 4, 2019) The York County Bike/Pedestrian Task Force began ten years ago as a Rock Hill group with a small Eat Smart Move More South Carolina grant. Neighboring communities saw the group’s value and participants realized they should not stop planning at the city border. The group expanded its geographic reach and began to look at county bike routes and bicycle and pedestrian initiatives.
Participation is open to the public and includes regional, county, city and town planners, administrators, and parks, recreation and tourism staff; and private citizens – safe pedestrian, biking and trail advocates. Monthly meetings are hosted in Rock Hill at the Velodrome.
The group shares updates on current initiatives and advocacy efforts. Participants discuss ideas, contacts, processes, and challenges. The group educates, shares strategies and “connects the dots” for interested community members. Though typically the group does not do the work together, members collaborate. The mission is to support York County becoming more bicycle and pedestrian friendly through education, advocacy, and promotion of the health, economic, environmental, and social benefits of bicycling and walking. The vision is an engaged York County where bicycling and walking are safe, accessible and preferred forms of transportation and recreation.
Longstanding members find value in learning about others’ initiatives, and may choose to apply them in their own community. Member Kathy Masters, City of Tega Cay Planning Commission, notes that Tega Cay’s current work on a Pedestrian, Bicycle and Trails Master Plan was sparked after she learned in a task force meeting about Rock Hill’s work to create one.
New members benefit from the group’s experience, which includes many trials and errors. For example, challenges have taught them how the SC Department of Transportation prefers to get its information. They see how you have to “get in on the front end” of the process because projects happen in multi-year cycles. Member Tom Bell, Rock Hill Parks, Recreation and Tourism Outdoor Center Supervisor, cited the “Pennies for Progress” Manchester Meadows project to enhance Rock Hill connectivity (from Mount Gallant Road to Anderson Road to Dave Lyle Boulevard) which was planned 5-6 years ago – “to get something done today you need to have “been at the table” back then.”
Luther Dasher, the task force’s advocacy chair, notes that “this group is also responsible for getting the five York County bike routes signed and provided the information to the York County Visitors Bureau so they could create route maps and brochures.” Fort Mill parents presently are advocating for a walking trail from Pleasant Knoll Elementary and Middle Schools to their Habersham neighborhood, supported by guidance they receive from the task force. A Tega Cay couple advocated for a trail on Highway 160. The Rock Hill-Fort Mill-Area Transportation Study (RFATS) and others gave ideas about how to proceed, and highlighted challenges (e.g., traffic, volume, and the built environment).
Are you interested in learning more, or getting involved?