In Madison, especially in downtown, guys and gals on bike were the norm - not the the rarity. During my first days in the City Between Two Lakes, I saw young, old, spandex-ed, families of all races and classes on bikes. On bike paths. On bike lanes. To me, I had found a place that honors transportation choice and simple recreational opportunities.
Because I saw people on bikes in Madison, I got the distinct, immediate sense that I could bike safely around the city for fun as well as transport. When I met Eddie, I wanted to know his story because we were in a new place and I had not yet seen anyone on a bike. He said he road 20 - 40 miles a day. The mountain bike he was on was his main form of transportation, and he loved to ride anywhere and everywhere. "It's my therapy."
Comparing the South Carolina Upstate and Madison, Wisconsin is admittedly like comparing apples to elephants, however, both are beautiful places that people are drawn to - to live, work and play. And both are within 2 hours of major US cities. In the Upstate, it's Charlotte and Atlanta. In Madison, it's Chicago and Milwaukee.
Seeing Eddie on a bike indicated to me that it might be alright to bike here. Now that I've lived here for a year and a half, my opinion on biking in the upstate is less black and white, but I do bike here. Daily. (I'm back to biking to work.) Seeing people on bikes inspires others to do so. The more facilities we have that serve the biking population, the more we create a better, livable environment for everyone.