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The Catalyst

MUSC supports Charleston as a bike-friendly community

Dear MUSC Family,
We live in a state and local community with residents who are disproportionately plagued by stroke, obesity, heart disease and a host of other serious health issues. To continue making a positive impact in this challenging environment requires committed communities partnering together to create a healthier future for our children and ourselves. As one of the nation’s premier academic medical centers and the only facility of its kind in the state of South Carolina — with a charge to focus on research, education and clinical care — MUSC recognizes we must take a leadership position in this work and have made building healthy communities one of the five pillars of our organization’s strategic plan.

MUSC is actively pursuing avenues to reimagine our campus and open new pathways for both walking and biking. Working in concert with our neighbors, Roper Hospital and Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center, we are transforming three interconnected health care facilities into a new Medical District that will link the eastern and western parts of the peninsula via a pedestrian-oriented greenway. The greenway is yet another logical, bike–friendly area for cyclists to use instead of being concerned with the rigors and expense associated with driving and parking a car.    

When it comes to a city’s livability, evaluating transportation options is a key variable. Livability indexes measure the quality of life in American communities, focusing on aspects such as housing, transportation, neighborhood characteristics, health care access, environment, opportunity, career options, and social scenes. Data clearly shows that biking, whether it’s for commuting, exercise or fun, is on the rise in many communities and is becoming a norm in cities of all sizes.

Where We Ride: Analysis of Bicycle Commuting in American Cities is a report produced annually by the League of American Bicyclists. According to its 2014 report, from 2000 to 2014, bicycle commuting has seen 62 percent growth nationwide with a total of 904,463 bike commuters in 2014. Every year, the U.S. Census Bureau studies Americans’ commuting habits, including how many people commute by bike. Then, the League of American Bicyclists digs into the data to assess the state of bicycle commuting in cities across the country.

The league’s report also notes that nationally, since 2005, states have seen, on average, a 46 percent increase in the share of people commuting by bike with many states having seen tremendous increases in cycling. A color–coded map on the league’s website shows South Carolina has seen a 38 percent increase in cycling commuters from 2005 to 2014. The site ranked the Palmetto State No. 35 out of 50 states by “mode share” or share of bike commuters. To review Where We Ride data, please visit:  
The Pedestrian & Bicycle Information Center reports 1 in 12 U.S. households does not own an automobile and approximately 13 percent of people 15 or older don’t drive. Furthermore, there are 127 million walking trips and 9 million bike trips in the United States every day. [All data points from the 2009 National Household Travel Survey].

For these reasons, we fully support appropriate efforts to make Charleston a more bike–friendly and accessible community. That includes investing in the added infrastructure required for bike lanes. We have reviewed the results of the recently released traffic analysis and want to extend support from MUSC for the addition of bike paths over several local roadways, including a bike lane on the Ashley River Bridge.
We believe that it’s time for Charleston to acknowledge and support the fact that encouraging healthy lifestyles, including investing in the infrastructure needed to provide appropriate alternatives to driving, is critical for our future.
Yours in service,

David J. Cole, M.D., FACS                           
President, MUSC                

Patrick J. Cawley, M.D.,
CEO, MUSC Health



June 27, 2016



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