GREENVILLE — Greenville City Council’s Safety Committee will recommend reinstallation of downtown bike racks. However, the committee is also recommending certain modifications and conditions before the racks are allowed to return.
The committee, composed of Councilmen John Hensley, Clarence Godwin and Leon Rogers, convened Monday to review the issue of the bike racks, which were removed from the downtown in August after safety concerns were raised. The racks have the outline of a bicycle and the fear was that people could hurt themselves if attempting to sit on the rack.
Main Street Greenville Director Crysta Hutchinson was on hand to discuss her organization’s ideas on the racks. She said the Main Street Greenville Board would consider signing a “hold harmless” agreement, which would release the city from responsibility for any legal claims in case of injury.
“The board is in favor of entering into such an agreement,” she said, telling the committee Main Street Greenville had been in discussion with its legal counsel and insurance company.
Hensley pointed out the city’s law director had not yet reviewed any agreement.
“It’s an issue that, if you want to proceed with the bikes, then we will need to make sure that the law director is comfortable for whatever coverage you might have,” he said.
Hensley called the bike racks an “attractive nuisance,” saying the racks have a “playground equipment look to a child.”
“They’re primary colors and look like something a kid would want to play on,” he said, saying he thought a neutral color, like black, would offset that potential problem.
One point of concern was the presence of seats on the bike racks.
“We can remove the seats,” said Hutchinson. “That’s probably the simplest solution to the concerns that were brought up for us.”
Matt Steyer, a Greenville resident and whose family donated to pay for the bike racks, addressed the committee.
“I think all of us in this room are questioning design, safety, things like that,” he said. He pointed out the company that makes the racks, Dero, produced 1,100 bike-style racks in 2015 and 2016.
“I feel we’re being overreaching by saying we feel they should be taller, shorter, etcetera,” he said.
Rogers suggested having the racks, with the seats removed, painted a silver-grey color, pending acceptance of insurance coverage by Main Street Greenville.
Steyer asked the committee if the city would repaint the downtown lightpoles to a lighter color, as those too could pose a hazard for someone walking in the downtown.
“Our concern is for this council, which was brought up to us, that we have to set there and concentrate on those,” said Godwin. “Eleven-hundred in other communities is not our problem. The ones here were brought up and was our problem. We had to take care of it and that’s why we’re here now trying to rectify it. Going off the page is not going to get this fixed.”
Councilman Tracy Tryon, in the audience, suggested silver was a bad color for people with poor eyesight. The committee instead decided a dark shade of green, as suggested by Hutchinson, would be best for all the racks.
As far as reinstallation costs, Hutchinson said the racks would need to be mounted in concrete and the city’s Street Department had given a quote of $3,500 to perform this. However, she said a private donor had agreed to pay for the cost of materials related to re-mounting the racks.
In summary, the committee will recommend to council the bike racks be sent back to the company, have the seat portion of the racks removed, have the racks repainted a dark green color, and Main Street Greenville will provide insurance coverage for any liability claims. Hensley said the committee’s report will be submitted to the full council at that body’s October 17 meeting.