Greenville’s Evolution from Mill Town to Vibrant Village
All-day mobile tour. Cost: $150; lunch and refreshments provided.
This tour highlights bicycle plans and programs in both cities and examines the Swamp Rabbit Trail – a successful public/private funding partnership in Greenville County (the subject of an APBP webinar in January 2010) – and a foundation-funded initiative for better bicycling in Spartanburg, South Carolina’s first Bicycle Friendly Community.
This tour includes a generous and healthy mid-morning snack before we land in Greenville, SC, which masterfully made the transition from waning mill town to vibrant village. The City of Greenville‘s exciting trail and greenway master plan and its Bikeville initiative set the stage for a new bicycle master plan presented for adoption in September. The city is planning a bicycle commuter hub at the downtown transit center and the combined city and county’s 14-mile walking/biking trail along the Reedy River complements the city’s successful downtown redevelopment plan. The long-term, effective public-private partnership efforts of a visionary mayor and collaborative city council, along with an excellent staff, guided the city through the recession. A once dying downtown is now home to offices, shops, restaurants, entertainment and many residents, as well as the imaginative Mice on Main Street sculpture/walking game that appeals to all ages. In the West End, the city invested $13 million in Falls Park which stimulated more than $100 million in private investment. After an overview of the planning process that made all of this possible, we’ll walk (or bike) through the downtown and the 20 acre Falls Park that features Wi-Fi, waterfalls and a Santiago Calatrava-designed Liberty Bridge and discuss along the way how the city’s investment in innovation increases its livability quotient.
The Greenville Hospital System’s corporate leadership and private investment is evident in both the county’s greenway master planning process and the Greenville Hospital System Swamp Rabbit Trail. The draft plan identifies the five benefits of greenways and implementation steps to create a trails system that connects existing trails, neighborhoods, schools, parks, points of interest, and other regional destinations. Even seasoned trail experts will find inspiring new practices to take home and apply from their visit to the city/county trail.
We eat a healthy, late lunch on the way from Greenville to Spartanburg where we’ll discover Bike Town Spartanburg, a community-wide, collaborative initiative dedicated to sustaining and improving Spartanburg’s national designation as a Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists. In September 2006, the City of Spartanburg earned an Honorable Mention as a bike-friendly community. A determined Spartanburg reached its stated goal in September 2007, earning a Bronze Level Bicycle Friendly Community designation and becoming the first bike friendly community in the state of South Carolina. The City of Spartanburg will reapply for designation in August 2011.
Bike Town was launched in early 2005 with a $106,000 three-year grant from the Mary Black Foundation (MBF). Four nonprofit groups – Palmetto Conservation Foundation, Palmetto Cycling Coalition, Freewheelers of Spartanburg, and Partners for Active Living – joined forces to implement the program, which is housed with Partners for Active Living. This campaign catapulted successful projects such as the MBF rail trail, downtown cycling loop, and multiple bike promotion programs, and led to several innovative follow up projects. B-cycle kicked off in June as the Southeast’s first bike sharing program. Currently, the city and partner organizations are undertaking the most challenging task to date – the redevelopment of the Northside, a community with infrastructure challenges compounded by economic challenges. With help from a local foundation the city is working to leverage the investment of the Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine, which recently built a campus in Northside, to create a place that provides all residents with opportunities to be active and safe. The latest initiatives include bikeshare stations, downtown bike lanes and a collaborative community engagement process to redesign a dangerous intersection. Spartanburg shows what a smaller sized city (40,000) can do to gain national recognition while creating lasting social change.
Jean Crowther, Alta Planning + Design (tour leader)
Andrew Meeker, ASLA & LCI, Urban Designer, City of Greenville, Parks and Recreation Department
Blake Sanders, SeamonWhiteside + Associates
Brian Graham, AICP & LCI, Greenway and Sustainability Manager, City of Greenville, Department of Parks & Recreation
Mary Douglas Hirsch (invited), Downtown Development Manager, Greenville, SC
Ty Houck, Director of Greenways, Natural and Historic Resources, Greenville County Recreation District
Laura Ringo (invited), Executive Director, Partners for Active Living, Spartanburg