If you want to avoid a forty-five dollar fine along with another fifty dollars to replace a broken bike lock, you might want to consider parking your bicycle somewhere other than King Street. On Oct. 17, the city of Charleston passed a new ordinance that will begin Dec. 1 allowing police to confiscate bicycles that are not parked on a bike rack on the section of King Street between Calhoun and Market street. Any bike locked to trees, sign posts, lamp posts or parking meters will be confiscated and brought to the police headquarters, 180 Lockwood Blvd, where they will only be able to be retrieved by their owners after paying a forty-five dollar fine along with the purchase of a new lock.
The ordinance currently exists on upper King Street between Spring and Calhoun and came into existence a year ago as part of a pilot program to make King Street more of a pedestrian friendly area. Citizens feel that the city should have installed more bicycle parking options before the rule went into affect. During the first 10 months the ban was enforced, police confiscated 207 bikes.
The passing of the expanded ordinance sparked a controversy amongst local Charleston bike advocates including Charleston Moves and the Costal Conservation League who said the rule was an unnecessary measure against bike riders. The city of Charleston refuted saying the goal of the new law is to keep narrow downtown sidewalks clear for pedestrians.
In response to the new ordinance, Kurt Cavanaugh, Charleston Moves Executive Director asked for warnings to be written before bikes are confiscated. He also questioned what would happen to those who would have trouble paying the fine to retrieve their bikes. Cavanaugh also spoke on the repercussions of the bicycles being confiscated, “what would you tell those folks whose bikes, whose only mode of transportation is gone?” How also, then, does this affect the many College of Charleston students who call their bikes their main mode of transportation?
Mayor Joseph P. Riley responded to the controversy saying the city is aiming to install an increased number of bike corrals around the affected area and in parking garages on and near King Street before Dec. 1.