Tuesday, November 28, 2006

You can't get to Kiawah Island on a bicycle

Much of the coast of South Carolina is made up of tiny islands. Like Kiawah Island just south of Charleston and like many of these islands there is only a single access road.

This road is barred to bicycles as I found out when I rode my bike over there last Friday. There is a big sign spelling it out in black and white (and red) in a manner that even a cyclist who can’t read would understand.

Kiawah Island was named after the Kiawah Indians, a friendly tribe of Native Americans who once lived there. They traded with, and helped the early European settlers in the 1700s.

Now Kiawah is an exclusive golf community and has some of the most expensive real estate in South Carolina. The natives are no longer friendly; at least not towards bicycle riders, it seems.

Are they afraid that hoards of Lycra clad bike riders will terrorize their town, eating all their food? Then I read the fine print at the bottom of the sign.

“Bike Permit Required.” So that’s it. Maybe the Mayor has the bike rental business all sewed up and doesn’t want people bringing in their own bikes.

Presumably, one would have to ride into town to get a permit, and I wondered would I be arrested the moment I rode past this sign? I took a few pictures, turned around, and rode home.

The journey means more than the destination, I always say. It was a beautiful sunny day, close to 60 degrees, and I thoroughly enjoyed the ride there and back.

On the way home, I paused for a moment to take in the view from the Stono River Bridge, and took a picture of the river and the surrounding wetlands.

[Click on the picture to view a larger image. Use the back button to return.]

If Kiawah doesn’t want bicycles, oh well, it’s their loss. They might consider this for a TV ad campaign.

“Come to Kiawah Island. Bring your American Express and bring your car; because we don’t accept Visa, and we don’t allow bicycles.”


Yokota Fritz said...

Well. I guess that could be disappointing. I wonder if a phone call to the city hall might be in order to ask how to get a bike permit.

Anonymous said...

As I was looking up the ordinance, I think a permit costs $5, but I could be mistaken.

Yokota Fritz said...

Right, Heather, but if a permit is required to get to get the permit, how do you get the permit in the first place? Did you notice the Catch 22?

Anonymous said...

I caught it. I'm pretty sure they assume the local riffraff wouldn't make the effort.

Anonymous said...

KIAWAH DOES WANT BIKES! You made a big assumption when you read the sign. The bicycle permit costs $5, and you would NOT be arrested for biking past the sign. The ordinance is to PROTECT Kiawah's visitors, not keep all bikes off the road. The island has nearly 30 miles of bike trails! Folks ride bikes on the paths all the time. HOWEVER... until the new bike path to Freshfields is built, the Town does not want anyone injured. There have already been three minor incidents on that route. Please remember that most people biking on Kiawah are vacationers - folks not always used to being on a bike, let alone familiar with the rules of the road. If you are a savvy cyclist you are welcome to ride there. And before you ask, yes, I do live on Kiawah, and yes, I do bike all over the place.

Syd said...

Come on out to Wadmalaw and ride. It's a great ride from James Island to Cherry Point and you can gaze out at Bohicket Creek and even get a glimpse of Kiawah and Seabrook across the creek.
Maybe the gates within gates protect the people from themselves....

VintageSpin said...

The signage’s connotation is not only negative, but unwelcoming towards bicycles. Using the universal symbol for “No” across a bicycle carries the same implied meaning as ‘No Smoking’.
In other words, I agree with Dave’s impression.
I paid $5 at the entrance of Arches National Monument and enjoyed a more scenic ride than Kiawah will ever offer now that it is controlled by zealots. And my $5 went to help preserve a national treasure, not straight into some city’s coffers. Trying to justify either sign is futile; each sign stands on its own.
I’d say someone on the city council needs to visit Davis, CA to get some idea of how a town can really be friendly towards bicyclists. Either that or the residents, if they really cared, would take action and change things.
I think most prefer others to do that for them, or prefer the status quo.

Anonymous said...

Wow. I am amazed that an ordinance that was put in place strictly to PROTECT people has been so uniformly misunderstood. Perhaps next time Mayor Wert should just take the approach that the Town of Kiawah doesn't care that people and especially children, could be seriously injured. No sense trying to protect people from moronic drivers.

And I had no idea that Kiawah was "controlled by zealots". WOW again! Protecting people is that bad, is it?

Better still, this quote "Either that or the residents, if they really cared, would take action and change things."

The residents on Kiawah care more for the island and the Lowcountry than vintagespin can imagine. More volunteer efforts and dollars come out of Kiawah than ANYPLACE else in the Lowcountry. Precisely WHAT does this person expect the residents to do? Demand that the sign be taken down and forget about the potential injuries? If not, what exactly should be done then?

And how prejudiced that the poster says "I think most prefer others to do that for them, or prefer the status quo." Guess vintagespin knows all 1200 people who live on Kiawah. How amazing!

THINK! Just because you don't like a sign (which does look negative) doesn't mean that everyone who lives there are "zealots" or don't care, etc. I cannot believe how prejudiced the posts are. But then I guess vintagespin thinks that I am a millionaire living out on Kiawah, not working stiff like everyone else. Color me surprised...

Dave Moulton said...


Of course no one wants to see children injured or killed, but go to any city in the US and you will see children riding bikes where they shouldn’t be riding. You can’t ban all cyclists because parents are not doing their job and supervising their kids.

Vintage Spin lives in California and will probably never visit Kiawah, but tell a cyclist they can’t ride somewhere and they get pretty passionate.

It is good that you, a resident of Kiawah, are voicing your opinion. I emailed the town council because I thought they might be interested that people were talking about them, but so far no response.