Friday, December 28, 2012

Year End Blog Wrap Up

Time to take a look back over the last year. Hittin' some of the highlights is a good way to refresh and prep for the coming year. Let's recap the posts of 2012:

In the winter, there was a post about being visible on a bike. An important safety tip, especially during these darker months of the year. There was also a post highlighting the group Upstate Sorba, a regional mountain biking organization that takes to the trails in this part of the southeast. I also wrote about the bike box idea, creating a safer space at intersections for those on bikes. A favorite winter post was the push for being an agent of change:  it only takes a few small steps to get started and to make an impact in your hometown. (Perhaps a goal for a few of you to consider for the 2013 year.)

In the spring, I took a trip to Savannah, Georgia. Though it was a vacation, the adventures resulted in a post about Tybee Island and the cool, fun bike-related things to do, a shout out to creative uses of bollards, a pizza company who delivers pizzas by bicycles and meeting Peter from the Netherlands. With national bike month in May, there was a great article highlighted from the Greenville News about the role of bikes in neighborhoods past and present, reminding us that biking isn't a short-lived fad - it's been around for decades. I also wrote about the group of kids who ride bicycles around my neighborhood.

The summer brought a few more posts about Savannah, and a thought about the Swamp Rabbit Trail. Clemson University also adopted their Master Bikeways Plan, and soon thereafter installed the first bike lane since the mid-1990's. There was a post with photos of different styles of bike racks - mostly collected by my husband on a trip out to California. In another post, I also explored a few reasons why there are less women who ride than men, a rising topic in the bike advocacy world during 2012.

The Georgia-lina Bike Summit was highlighted in fall. As well as a favorite post (with lots of photos!) about the steps necessary to create a bike lane. Who knew that it all boils down to space, pavement and paint? In October this blog recorded the highest number of hits ever. Almost 1,300 people in October alone viewed Biking in the Upstate! Thanks, y'all!

Wrapping up 2012, there was a post about the change in national transportation trends, especially by those in Generation Y. The SC DOT Multimodal Plan was highlighted as well as exploring how to be a better bicycle commuter. This blog also turned two years old, which is kind of a momentous event. I had no idea where this blog would be when I started writing in December 2010, and it's fun to celebrate the anniversary of bringing biking news, exploring bike topics and being a place to explore and exchange ideas.

To spice things up a bit, a hit counter has recently been added to the bottom of the blog. If you've got any suggestions for stories to share or ideas to explore in the coming months, let me know. I'd also welcome any guest bloggers. And, as always, I appreciate your comments.

Here's to a great 2012! Thanks! Keeping reading, and keep bike riding!

Friday, December 14, 2012

What I Want for Christmas

All dressed up for Christmas
My husband asked me what I wanted for Christmas, and, without thinking, I said “a safe route to ride my bike to work.”

I live 5 miles from where I work at Clemson University. The route is direct, a little hilly and is at that right distance where I get a nice, little workout in during my commute. I love it.

But, I also loathe it. The road is full of fast-moving traffic, debris, aging pavement and is not for the light-hearted. I would be lying if I said that I don’t get scared sometimes or haven’t shaken my fist and said a few profanities when cars drive too close. For over half of my commute, there’s no bike lane so I get to share the road with traffic that sometimes passes me at 50 mph. 

About 80% of the passing traffic gives me wide berth, most sliding over to the far left lane. But when the traffic is moving or there’s a lot of it, I feel my heart rate increase and my breathing gets heavy – my body is reacting to stress and there’s a slight shift into fight or flight mode. 

When asked what I want for Christmas, there’s no thought about the latest gadget or the newest fashion trend. I’ve got what I need when it comes to personal items. What I want for Christmas is simple, yet so far from reality it sounds like the old cliché of “world peace.” But I’m not asking for the world. I’m only asking for one, simple thing:  a safe route to bike to work.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Upstate News Update, December 2012

My, how time flies! The last Upstate News Update was in August, and since it's now December, let's get updated with some of the great bike-related things that have happened.

City of Rock Hill. This fall, the City of Rock Hill was designated as a "bicycle-friendly" community, and won an award at the bronze level. Rock Hill joins other communities like Greenville and Hilton Head as being part of South Carolina's few officially recognized bicycle-friendly communities.

Doodle Line Update. Interest in developing a bike path on an old railroad line in between Pickens and Easley is moving forward. The 8.5 mile path would be similar to the Swamp Rabbit Trail that's enjoyed by many, providing a safe, fun place for people to walk and ride their bikes. A feasibility study is being completed to get a better understanding of the issues, cost and economic development boost it would bring to the two cities. A facebook page in support of the effort  has also been developed.

PELCOR Initiative. The Pickens, Easley and Liberty Corridor (PELCOR) has recently been awarded a substantial sum to implement the Town Creek Park plan. The plan aims to transform the 100-acre parcel of land into a great off-road bicycle facility. The park is one of three facilities that will be built in the PELCOR area for mountain bike riders of all abilities and skill levels.

City of Greenville. Bike share is coming to the City of Greenville. B-Cycle will launch this Spring 2013 with support from Upstate Forever and Greenville Hospital System. The same company operates the bike share program in Spartanburg. (Time to build a path between the two, right?)

City of Clemson. The City of Clemson continues to move forward with their bike plan. Some of the plan sections have been presented to the Planning Commission. Earlier in 2012, the community was invited to participate in an online bike survey. Stay tuned to the City of Clemson website for more information about the plan.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

BITU Two-Year Anniversary

This month is Biking in the Upstate's (BITU) two-year anniversary. Two years ago I began charting the course for this blog, reporting on some of the biking-related news in the South Carolina Upstate and asked you to join me in exploring all things "bike." And thank YOU for your support, comments and help in making the area a better place to ride a bike.

It's been pretty darn cool to see development and implementation of local bike plans, the increased number of people take to two wheels and the rise in general support for biking. The advocates of and public officials in the cities of Anderson, Easley, Pickens, Liberty, Clemson, Spartanburg, Greenville and Rock Hill are working on bringing the benefits of bike lanes, shared roads and paths to their communities. There have been important meetings to attend, improved bikeways and more, improved places to ride a bike. There's also been a ground-swell of support over the last few years.

You've been an important part of this journey - participating in meetings, contacting friends, commenting on various blog posts and, maybe most importantly, riding your bike. Maybe you have recently gotten back on bike for the first time in years, maybe you've been riding for a while. All riders - recreational, family, long-haul, racers, spandex, weekend-warriors, tweed-riders, whoever - are critical in making biking in the upstate better.Where one rides, two are better. There is safety (and fun!) in numbers.

I hope this blog has also inspired you in some way to do something a little bit more:  maybe a post provided an alternative perspective to ponder, maybe you actually made time to attend a meeting, maybe you invited a friend to go for a bike ride. For me, I've enjoyed having a place to talk about important issues, highlight interesting stories and develop a storyline about biking in this part of the state. I think it's an important piece of building a stronger bike community locally, regionally and nationally.