Friday, September 28, 2007
Becoming Bicycle Friendly
My adopted home city, Charleston, South Carolina is a wonderful place steeped in history, culture, and art.
I number amongst my friends and acquaintances many talented writers and songwriters.
The South Carolina state auto license plate has the slogan, “Smiling faces, beautiful places.” One of the things that struck me about Charleston in the almost six years that I have been here is the friendliness of the people.
Complete strangers will strike up a conversation with you. I have found in other parts of the world, and even in parts of the US, to speak to a stranger is viewed with suspicion. People who talk to strangers are looked on as some kind of loony person. Here I will rarely pass a stranger without at least a smile or simple greeting exchanged.
However, having made that statement, when Carolinians get in their cars it is a whole different story. Columbia, the state capital, had the dubious title earlier this year of having the worst drivers in the US. Friendly smiles and simple greetings are often replaced with a great deal of horn blowing.
So, it was with extreme pleasure I read this week that Spartanburg, SC had become the first city in this state to be awarded the prestigious League of American Bicyclists Bicycle Friendly status.
The League of American Bicyclists, founded in 1880 before the use of automobiles was widespread, was instrumental in getting paved roads established. The same paved road that most drivers enjoy and take for granted today. The same roads a few begrudgingly share with those of us who still like to ride a bicycle.
Spartanburg has become only one of twenty-four cities in the US to receive this honor; they have done so in a relatively short time. Their Bicycle Initiative Program was started in 2004 with a grant of $104,000.
Charleston take note. If ever a city could use a Bicycle Initiative this is one, with the downtown parking and congestion problems. What better way for a visitor to view our historic city than by a leisurely ride on a bicycle?
Two things go hand in hand; there is a need to get rid of the congestion to make it possible to ride a bicycle on the narrow downtown streets. More bicycles mean less cars, easing the congestion.
Posted by Dave Moulton at 9/28/2007 06:12:00 AM