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Bicycling in Mount Pleasant / Charleston SC area
Old 12-06-2013, 03:28 PM   #1
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Bicycling in Mount Pleasant / Charleston SC area

My wife and I are considering a move to Mount Pleasant SC. We have spent some time there and really like the area. One important factor we need to consider is roads for bicycling. We are avid cyclists and rides average 50 miles plus so I am talking about rather serious cycling vs. a 5 mile bike trail. Is there anyone who lives in the Charleston / Mount Pleasant area who rides in the area? We currently live in New England and my wife likes rides with hills, I know it's not New England but is the riding there flat all the time or does the area have rolling hills nearby? I see there is a national forest nearby are there roads there we could possibly ride? We would be fine with a 5-10 mile ride out to the more rural areas to do longer distances. Any info would be greatly appreciated ! Thank You in advance !
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Old 12-06-2013, 04:02 PM   #2
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If you want hills, I would definitely consider the South Carolina Upstate. Along the coast, your biggest hills will be bridge overpasses. I am an avid cyclist. I have found that most long rides on the coastal plain, resemble a 2-3 hour spin class. Just sayin.
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Old 12-06-2013, 04:53 PM   #3
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Old 12-06-2013, 05:38 PM   #4
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My wife and I are also avid cyclists. We recently moved to CT from the Midwest. We also visit Charleston from time to time but not on bikes. We have biked through SC on a trip from Florida to Wisconsin. We did ride through Charleston and Mt Pleasant. We found S. Carolina to be the most unfriendly bicycling state we rode in. That included our other rides which includes nearly every state outside of the Northeast. Having said that, Charleston is now a Bronze community and the ride across the Cooper River Bridge is nice. So, maybe the State is working on change. I am not sure how long it takes to get from your driveway to the country roads in Mt Pleasant. But, when it comes to hills in SC, Brdofpray is right, head upstate. With our move to CT, I miss those flat roads. The hills are a fun challenge but for commuting, which I also do, the hills are simply a pain.
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Old 12-06-2013, 08:53 PM   #5
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We found S. Carolina to be the most unfriendly bicycling state we rode in.
I am really sorry you had a bad experience. In the 4 years I have been riding in the Upstate of SC, I have yet to have a bad experience (unlike IL where we escaped from.). Once you are off the main roads, traffic is light to non-existant. If you follow the rules of the road, wave to folks, people seem to be very accepting of the spandex clad riders on the roads. Perhaps it is the proximity to Clemson, a university town, with a higher than normal number of riders, I don't know. We have a good group in our "club" of mixed ages, and abilities. We do not have a bunch of hammerheads that think they own the roads. The non-riding folks seem to respect that.

If you want hills, we have hills. If you like rollers, we have rollers. We can even find a flat route or two. Riding in the Upstate has provided me with all of the challenges I need.
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Old 12-06-2013, 09:21 PM   #6
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Perhaps our less than positive experience started with crossing the bridge (can't remember the road) from Savannah. It was very difficult and not bike friendly. The rest of the day was not much better with very narrow roads and drivers that did not seem to be use to cyclists. We have done a day or so ride in the Greenville area and it was terrific as you suggest. I have lived/worked in SC and my wife is from there. The people are great. I actually love the climate in the lowlands and piedmont. I know Charleston is doing a lot of work and I expect that the next time we go back things will have improved, at least as we evaluate things. Quick fun story that happened on this trip. We bumped into an elderly man at a gas station in NC (he was getting gas) and chatted for a little while. About a mile down the road, he waves us over on the side of the road. He gets out of the car and tells us that on one of his bike tours, a stranger gave him a present of cash to make his trip better. So, he handed us a $20 bill and said he wanted to be sure our trip was as good as his. It did make our tour better just knowing that we were in the company of nice people.
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Old 12-07-2013, 11:21 AM   #7
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Sounds like Mount Pleasant is out. Any areas in Greenville / Clemson we should look at? We had our RV in Cross Hill SC two years ago for the winter but that was a little too rural for us. Any suggestions would be helpful .. thinking of bringing the RV down to test the area near Greenville / Ashville if you know of any nice RV resorts that would be helpful too ! Thanks for the information so far.
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Old 12-07-2013, 12:10 PM   #8
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Anywhere in the Greenville/Spartanburg area would suit your cycling purposes. Easy access to the blue ridge escarpment for mountain riding, and the piedmont for rolling hills.

Greenville is nice size city with plenty of cultural venues, restaurants, and activities, if that is your thing. The renovations to the city center (The Reedy River Falls Park and river walk.) have made a big difference in making Greenville a showcase. There is a rails to trail bike route called the Swamp Rabbit (Google). This is a 17.5 (one way) hard surface trail. The trail goes through the middle of Greenville, through the above mentioned parks.

Clemson offers a university setting with all of the attached benefits, cultural experiences, classes, and sporting events (get used to orange).

In addition to the above, the Upstate lakes of Jocassee, Keowee, and Hartwell, really make this entire area feel less like rural SC, and more like a recreation destination.

OK, Ok, I know I am sounding like somebody from Upstate chamber of commerce. However, after 30+ years in Chicago, both DW and I could not be happier in finding this location to spend our next 30+ years.
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Old 12-08-2013, 07:39 PM   #9
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I work in Mount Pleasant.

I can tell you that I think it is dangerous to bicycle here on the roads.

If you want to do off road stuff, trails and dedicated biking areas, where we live is an awesome place. But if your main criteria for choosing a place to retire to is bicycling access, you need to look somewhere like Colorado or something.

If SC has a bad rap for cyclists, it would definitely be true. I'd never get on a bike on our roads. Not for a minute. Anywhere in the state, not just local to Charleston.
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Old 12-08-2013, 08:26 PM   #10
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I guess we all have our own opinions. Anyone can have a bad experience from time to time, or hear of a negative story in the news (the press loves to sensationalize things.). In Illinois, a couple of friends and I were actually run off the road by a bunch of kids joy riding. An isolated event. However, I would never say the entire state of Illinois is unsafe.

I can only report on my experiences, and those of the group I ride with throughout the Upstate. In over four years of riding (about 10,000 miles of riding), I have had ZERO bad experiences. (I am not counting flat tires, big hills, head winds, and heat.)
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Old 12-08-2013, 08:49 PM   #11
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Sarah in SC, I would ride in Mt Pleasant tomorrow if I lived there. I have yet to find a place where I could not ride. I would find the best roads I could, which exist everywhere. At the same time, I would work on building infrastructure as is happening in Charleston. (My original comment to XYZ was based on his moving to a place for bicycling. I would not like to move to a place that is behind the bicycling curve. That is what I was responding to. )

As a person who has worked long and hard on bicycling advocacy, Sarah in SC's point of view is unfortunately very common but unfounded. As more people bike, the safer it becomes because people believe drivers become use to seeing/anticipating bikes on the road. NYC is the most recent example of this. There were tons of miles ridden there since they introduced the bike share program. People were predicting the morgues would fill up. In fact, no deaths in the last 5 months. (What many people do not know is most bike accidents happen at intersections. It is an infrequent occurrence when a bicyclist is struck from behind which many if not most people who are not close to cycling believe.

Any one who is reading this and is considering bicycling in urban areas but does not feel comfortable, find a friend, club or go online for some of the great training tapes. If you can't find one, call your statewide or city bicycle non-profit. I think every state has one. I will be happy to direct anyone who is looking for information. Most trips from home are under 5 miles and the risk of not exercising is much higher than bicycling.
With all the benefits (health, financial & environment), it is a shame that many people have a fear of urban cycling.
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Old 12-08-2013, 09:07 PM   #12
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Sarah in SC, I would ride in Mt Pleasant tomorrow if I lived there. I have yet to find a place where I could not ride. I would find the best roads I could, which exist everywhere. At the same time, I would work on building infrastructure as is happening in Charleston. (My original comment to XYZ was based on his moving to a place for bicycling. I would not like to move to a place that is behind the bicycling curve. That is what I was responding to. )

As a person who has worked long and hard on bicycling advocacy, Sarah in SC's point of view is unfortunately very common but unfounded. As more people bike, the safer it becomes because people believe drivers become use to seeing/anticipating bikes on the road. NYC is the most recent example of this. There were tons of miles ridden there since they introduced the bike share program. People were predicting the morgues would fill up. In fact, no deaths in the last 5 months. (What many people do not know is most bike accidents happen at intersections. It is an infrequent occurrence when a bicyclist is struck from behind which many if not most people who are not close to cycling believe.

Any one who is reading this and is considering bicycling in urban areas but does not feel comfortable, find a friend, club or go online for some of the great training tapes. If you can't find one, call your statewide or city bicycle non-profit. I think every state has one. I will be happy to direct anyone who is looking for information. Most trips from home are under 5 miles and the risk of not exercising is much higher than bicycling.
With all the benefits (health, financial & environment), it is a shame that many people have a fear of urban cycling.
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Old 12-08-2013, 09:55 PM   #13
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I work in Mount Pleasant.

I can tell you that I think it is dangerous to bicycle here on the roads.
I know causation does not always imply correlation, but sometimes...
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Old 12-09-2013, 02:58 AM   #14
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Sorry if I gave the impression I thought it was okay that our roads sucked for cyclists. It isn't okay. But I know of several very high profile cases that involved the deaths of cyclists and there were never any charges to the drivers. One solution after such an event was to simply ban cyclists from the road (bridge) in question.

I wish it were different, and there are many many cyclists who choose to ride in our very rural area instead of in town, which I find equally hazardous, because of the lack of bike lanes and speed of passing vehicles.

I take plenty of risks in life, but I wouldn't endorse bicycling here because I can't mitigate the real dangers of inattentive, uninformed, and uncaring drivers I see around me every day. Trails and neighborhood roads are probably worth the risk, but not the main thoroughfares.

We do have a great bike/walk lane across the big bridge, but no good way to get anywhere else from there. And there is a nice greenway in West Ashley shared by cyclists and walkers that I've bicycled in a few times.
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Old 12-09-2013, 05:20 AM   #15
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Life in western NC; Asheville, Hendersonville, have gotten fast and full ahead of itself. Drivers are more dangerous than I remembered. There's also about 10x as many as there used to be. I haven't cycled there in 5years but was averaging 10-20mi / ride road bike on major and secondary roads. Coming from Chapel Hill NC riding area which was great in 05. Still have the bikes. The lady and I plan to start up again soon. I miss it a lot, but will have to quit work to start up again. Soon, so soon
Once rode to Asheville and back just to do 100mi century trip in a day to say I could do it.
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Old 12-09-2013, 09:02 AM   #16
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I lived in Daniel Island and rode around Mount Pleasant and Charleston for three years. You'll be better in Mount P than anywhere else in that area - newer roads, few have wide shoulders or integrated bike lanes. Most rural roads in the area have no shoulder.

I used to ride Clements Ferry Road in a 50+ mile loop on weekends, and then around Daniel Island during the weeks. You can find rides to do, but they are dangerous and the roads are poor. Back in 2008 when I last lived there, drivers were less than cordial to cyclists.

A friend of a friend was killed on a highway ride by a legally blind in one eye driver back in 2004. Wonders Way on the Cooper River Bridge is named after him - Garrett Wonders.

There is a cycling team there - Volkswagen - not sure if they're still active, but there is a cycling community, albeit small.

Bottom line: Charleston/Mount P was the worst place I've ever lived in terms of cycling (San Diego/Coronado, Norfolk, Rhode Island), and I would never recommend it as a great place to ride. (It IS a great place to LIVE, IMO...)
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Old 12-09-2013, 10:02 AM   #17
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Here ia a LONG blog post where a fellow cyclist has done a great job of putting together a lot of stuff about safe cycling. Here is the summary and the link. I could not find when it was written but it seems reasonably up to date. Is Cycling Dangerous? -- The Risk of Bicycle Use -- Accidents, Fatalities, Injuries, and Benefits

I have decided that I better add a summary to this discussion, since some people still don't get it. To the question, is bicycling dangerous, we have to acknowledge that there are between 700 and 1,000 fatalities in the US each year, which is a small number compared to the million or so who die from diseases that cycling could help prevent and the approximately 150,000 people killed in other kinds of accidents. In comparing the fatality rate of cyclists and motorists, we find that the statistics about bicycle use do not all agree; however, it seems that bicycling is less dangerous or no more dangerous per hour than driving a car, and since motorists spend more time driving, the lifelong risk of the average motorist is two to four times greater than that of the average cyclist without the 20X compensating health benefits of cycling. In addition, motor vehicles kill over five thousand pedestrians each year while bicycles kill at most one or two. Finally, the majority of cycling deaths occur to the minority who are not following such simple safety proceedures as riding with the traffic, stopping for traffic lights and stop signs, and using lights at night. Then, when looking at injuries, we find that the serious injuries are only a small part of the total, and that the amount of time between injuries is great. Again, the number of injuries can be reduced by being careful.

Putting all this together, a person who choses a bicycle over an automobile for daily travel and who obeys the traffic laws and uses care at all times will experience greatly improved health and a greatly reduced risk of death as a result. Thus rather than being dangerous, cycling greatly reduces major health risks.

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Old 12-09-2013, 11:57 AM   #18
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I lived in Daniel Island and rode around Mount Pleasant and Charleston for three years. You'll be better in Mount P than anywhere else in that area - newer roads, few have wide shoulders or integrated bike lanes. Most rural roads in the area have no shoulder.

Bottom line: Charleston/Mount P was the worst place I've ever lived in terms of cycling (San Diego/Coronado, Norfolk, Rhode Island), and I would never recommend it as a great place to ride. (It IS a great place to LIVE, IMO...)
I'm sad to see that a cyclist agrees with my assessment of the area, nash. Wishing it were different doesn't change the facts, unfortunately.
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Old 12-09-2013, 02:48 PM   #19
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I think we all can agree that there are certain areas, in each of the states we live in that may not be the best for cycling, no matter what the errand, or health advantage. However, I also think that characterizing cycling as an unsafe activity throughout an entire state is not the answer either.

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I'd never get on a bike on our roads. Not for a minute. Anywhere in the state, not just local to Charleston.
As I said before, and as davef's post points out, by cycling defensively, using proper safety gear (helmets, reflectors, lights), being courteous to drivers, and following the rules of the road, you will be going a long way in making your ride safe.
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Old 12-09-2013, 02:58 PM   #20
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Yeah, things might be different in your neck of the woods, birdy. I never go to Greenville, really, so I wouldn't know. I can pretty much guess whatever is bad in Chucktown is going to be worse in Columbia, though. So that leaves y'all to keep up the standards in the upstate for the rest of us! Keep safe!
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