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Safe bicycling in southern states
Old 04-14-2014, 02:20 AM   #1
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Safe bicycling in southern states

In another thread that I started, I was asking for advice to find a midsize city in the US that would closely meet my needs. I found that the Southeast would come close. I have been focusing my attention mostly on SC (Columbia,Charleston) and most recently GA (Savannah, Augusta) both also being senior tax friendly. Even though, I have a car and motorcycle here, I prefer to use my bicycle for day to day shopping, visiting friends etc., as well as recreational exercise. I've ridden most of my life in NYC traffic as well as a number of large Asian cities with no problems. I just saw a report on a bicycle forum that southern states tend to be the most dangerous for cyclist and pedestrians, SC being one of the worse. The report concludes that my paraphrasing, the South due to car culture, lack of safe infrastructure, plain ignorance (mostly lack of public education) and self indulgence (me first) can easily get a cyclist killed.
Are there avid cyclist living in SC and GA that can shed some light?
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Old 04-14-2014, 06:19 AM   #2
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Interesting report and it gives the reasons I don't ride a bicycle in WV. Few or no shoulders, lots of curves, few bike paths (although they are trying) limited budgets, and the like. It's the reason I got a motorcycle for my then 3.4 mile commute to work. A bicycle was just too dangerous. I felt I'd have a life expectancy of about 20 minutes doing that.
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Old 04-14-2014, 06:53 AM   #3
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DW and I moved to the Upstate of South Carolina (Clemson, Greenville area) 5 years ago. When the weather is good, I ride about 4 to 5 times a week, averaging 30 miles an outing. I utilize little used back roads throughout the area. I have also ridden two Mountain to Coast rides, through North Carolina (generally Asheville to a beach community.).

In all of this time, I have yet to have a bad experience with anyone in a car. In fact I have had more issues riding in the Chicago suburbs than in South Carolina.

I find that if you follow the rules of the road, respect others, and wave to the locals once and while, will go all long way to making your ride a safe one.
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Old 04-14-2014, 09:58 AM   #4
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I live in Savannah and I ride a bike some. I ride circuits around my suburban neighborhood and think it is pretty safe. Friends who are more serious about riding seem to like the area for their longer rides but to me there seem to be too few bike lanes and too many idiot drivers on the well traveled streets. Things are different in the old downtown and historic district. Many residents and the thousands of students there ride bikes daily to avoid the parking problems and get around quickly where a car can be at a disadvantage.

Not to start a war with my friends from SC but their major roads are in terrible shape in many areas and would IMO not be safe for a bike rider.
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Old 04-14-2014, 10:13 AM   #5
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Not to start a war with my friends from SC but their major roads are in terrible shape in many areas and would IMO not be safe for a bike rider.
Right, whenever I come to Savannah, I notice an amazing and immediate improvement in the roads, as if they were suddenly paved in the softest of cashmere instead of crushed up bits of confederate rubble.


j/k. But you knew I'd have to rise to the bait, right?

I would guess that Greenville would be the safest of our cities in SC to ride a bike, just because they have more $ and infrastructure for bike lanes. Charleston is getting better, but there's just not much that can be done to improve existing conditions, and not much incentive to pay for them. I consider it dangerous to ride bikes on our roads, and would only use designated paths in our natural areas, which are quite nice, but not exactly what you have in mind.

Regardless "major roads" would be the last place I think it would be safe to ride, here or our fair and favorite city to the south (Savannah).
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Old 04-14-2014, 10:21 AM   #6
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Confederate rubble? Hey, don't talk about my friends and family.
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Old 04-14-2014, 10:33 AM   #7
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Arlington, VA is a great city for bikers. Trails with no cars, and big wide streets that usually have a bike-only lane. Many many people have stopped commuting by car, and bike to work daily. As you get into the suburbs further outside the beltway, the drivers seem less courteous to the two-wheeler crowd. I'm a fair-weather bike commuter, with an 8-mile ride to work at the Pentagon. Looking forward to the rest of Spring and Summer!
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Old 04-14-2014, 10:36 AM   #8
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I don't live in SC or GA, but here in New Orleans we have been having some trouble with criminals attacking innocent bicyclists with baseball bats for no apparent reasons other than "turf", race, and that they can get away with it:

NOPD searches for men who beat Esplanade Avenue cyclists with baseball bats | Home | The New Orleans Advocate

The attacks described in the article continued in following weeks with multiple other victims but I don't have a link describing that.

Still, Frank rides his bicycle in his own neighborhood and if I was inclined to ride one, I would do that too during daylight hours. I wouldn't ride a bike at night or outside my immediate neighborhood, though. In reality, I prefer riding a stationary bike inside because of the copious rain here and because I am afraid of falling off a regular bike at my age.
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Old 04-14-2014, 01:27 PM   #9
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Confederate rubble? Hey, don't talk about my friends and family.

Oh, I thought you said confederate rabble........................nevermind.
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Old 04-14-2014, 01:35 PM   #10
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Oh, I thought you said confederate rabble........................nevermind.
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Old 04-14-2014, 03:10 PM   #11
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I don't live there any longer, but I was a regular 100-miles plus per week in Charleston/Daniel Island/Mount Pleasant guy when I lived there. In general, there are few bike lanes, most shoulders do not support riding (Clements Ferry Road is popular, but stupidly dangerous... I shudder now thinking the conditions I used to ride in on that road).

I had a few times where people threw trash at me, mocked me, told me to "get a car." I knew several guys that carried knives when they rode just in case, but while it's not as accepted there as it is here in San Diego/Coronado, most people left me alone. It's just that there is not much good riding in Charleston - you have to get out of the city and onto the narrow country roads. Yes, I know one cyclist who was killed when I lived there riding a country road when he was struck by a pickup pulling a boat trailer.

But 26 cyclists have been killed in LA and south this year alone, so it's not just a south thing. Riding a bike on surface streets is dangerous, and you're placing an awful lot of trust in the hands of others when you do it. I'd prefer bike lanes as we have here in Cali, but certainly did my share of riding in poor conditions in Charleston.

Greenville/Clemson area is supposed to be very nice for riding, though I don't personally know. I know several guys I rode with - high-level amateur cyclists and formerly professional triathletes - would take week or two-week riding sabbaticals up there and enjoyed it. IIRC, George Hincapie is from that area.
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Old 04-14-2014, 06:08 PM   #12
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Decided to google for grins
Bikeville

http://grvlsc.maps.arcgis.com/apps/O...fb1d406144cb20
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Old 04-14-2014, 06:21 PM   #13
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I thought the roads in the South were paved with flour.

That's because the South will rise again.
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Old 04-14-2014, 06:22 PM   #14
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I think where Alan lived near Houston has plenty of bike paths and one can walk to stores and restaurants easily.
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Old 04-15-2014, 10:09 PM   #15
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Davis CA is long known for it's bike friendliness, since I was aware of such things in the early 70s. Having said that, the price of housing in a California college town is too frightening to contemplate. There are roadside bike paths, you are a couple of hours from the Sierras and an hour from the Bay Area.

Spent virtually my entire life in the Bay Area, moved across the country in 1999 burned out and looking for a change.

Here in PA the roads are lousy and biking around has its risks. Nevertheless the drivers seem to be willing to share the road with bikes.
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Old 04-15-2014, 10:40 PM   #16
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I think where Alan lived near Houston has plenty of bike paths and one can walk to stores and restaurants easily.
This is true. The Woodlands, Texas has ~150 miles of hike and bike trails, pop ~100k, a Town Center and several "villages" with lots of shops and restaurants in the villages connected by roads and bike trails.
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Old 04-16-2014, 09:04 AM   #17
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Did anyone mention heat, humidity, stray/feral dogs?
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Old 04-16-2014, 09:10 AM   #18
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Did anyone mention heat, humidity, stray/feral dogs hogs?
The Texas version...
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Old 04-16-2014, 09:39 AM   #19
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..Riding a bike on surface streets is dangerous, and you're placing an awful lot of trust in the hands of others when you do it....

that's why except for group rides I do bike paths and our neighborhood subdivision.
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Old 04-16-2014, 10:07 AM   #20
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Yeah, unfortunately neighborhoods and most bike paths don't support 25mph intervals. The long bike path that runs by my house is usually also populated by runners, dog-walkers, siteseers, bird watchers, little kids on training wheels, in-line skaters, and ridiculously slow beach cruiser riders. I usually elect to ride on the (very wide) shoulder where I live, particularly on weekends, because the chance of an incident on the 8-foot shoulder is less than on the 3-foot bike path populated with all those obstacles.

It's not always a simple choice.
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