Work began this week to renovate the western gateway into downtown Spartanburg. Plans to narrow West Main Street, add bike lanes, improve sidewalks and add street trees will be complete by early October. The intent of the project is to not only beautify an entrance to our city, but also to create a safer environment for all travelers: pedestrians, cylists and drivers. This “road diet” will take West Main Street down to two lanes, add parking on either side of the street, and thus slow traffic. The area has seen an incredible increase in pedestrian activity since the opening of three businesses in the past 2 years: the RJ Rockers Brewery, Main Street Pub, and Cribbs Kitchen.
Thanks to the work of our grantee, Partners for Active Living, Spartanburg City and County both have a Complete Streets Policy. What does this mean? Well, according to the National Complete Streets Coalition website:
“The streets of our cities and towns are an important part of the livability of our communities. They ought to be for everyone, whether young or old, motorist or bicyclist, walker or wheelchair user, bus rider or shopkeeper. But too many of our streets are designed only for speeding cars, or worse, creeping traffic jams.
Now, in communities across the country, a movement is growing to complete the streets. States, cities and towns are asking their planners and engineers to build road networks that are safer, more livable, and welcoming to everyone. Instituting a Complete Streets policy ensures that transportation planners and engineers consistently design and operate the entire roadway with all users in mind – including bicyclists, public transportation vehicles and riders, and pedestrians of all ages and abilities.”
With nearly 20% of the population in the city of Spartanburg having no access to a car, creating streets that are complete and accessible to all is important not only for aesthetics, but also for equity. The transformation of West Main from a four lane highway into a pedestrian-scaled, bike-friendly road will benefit residents, visitors and businesses in downtown Spartanburg. If anyone would like to argue with that, just take a look at our sister city to the south with her bustling green-lined, sidewalked thoroughfare.
-Cate Brandt Ryba