Monday, February 23, 2015

Book Review: Cycling Greenville South Carolina

I'm ready for spring! What about you? No better way to shake off the cold winter by dreaming and preparing for the spring riding season. And there's a book out about cycling - road, mountain and recreational - that you will want to put on your must read list!

As I mentioned in a recent post, I had the opportunity to read the book Cycling Greenville South Carolina. Wendy Lyman, local cyclist, owner of the Swamp Rabbit Inn and Greenville entrepreneur, wrote this book because the Greenville area lacked a bicycle-riding tour book.

Book available locally and online.

This book is an easy to read and navigate paperback that will have you planning the next group and solo rides in Greenville County and the surrounding area. I consider myself a dreamer when it comes to long distance rides, and this book has me inspired to take on new, longer and challenging routes. 

The book is laid out by riding type - Road Biking, Mountain Biking, Bike Path and Bicycle Touring - and then by ride. Each ride has a different name, story behind the ride, estimated riding time for beginners, intermediate and advanced bicyclists. There's also information on the elevation gain over the course of the ride, starting and ending points and driving directions to a trailhead. Every ride also has a section aptly called "Ride Characteristics and Cautions" to provide the rider an overview of what to expect and how to plan out the ride, nearest restrooms, etc. You can tell a lot of thought went into this book.

Mountain Biking in the Upstate - Upstate Sorba

Wendy is a local cyclist, and she knows what people are looking for when taking on new rides. It's great that she's provided information on what rides may be better for the novice bicyclist and what routes the hardiest of riders should be prepared to complete. Wendy also asked a few local riders to contribute a favorite ride in the book, which adds color and variety to the selection of routes selected for the book. A brief bio on each contributor is found in the book's back pages.

International champion and 17-time Tour de France rider George Hincapie was one of the locals asked to participate in the book. He wrote the inspirational forward, and says

"Hand down, Greenville is the absolute best place to cycle on the East Coast....the weather is ideal most of the year. Cycling in the Greenville area is comparable to some of the top destinations in the country...I have cycled all around the globe, and Greenvile reminds most of the cycling in California, Spain and Italy."

Biking near Greenville, South Carolina

Wow. With Hincapie's experience, it's pretty cool that he has found a true love in biking in the Upstate and Greenville.

Another great part of the book is there a general map and turn by turn directions with mileage. You could upload a few photos to your smartphone, and use these directions as a map to make following the routes easy. The directions are clear and easy to read with just the right amount of detail.

At the very end of the book, a few local bike shops are listed, which is a great resource if you're looking to have a tune-up or need an adjustment. Rules of the road are also provided. A must-have in any serious riding guide.

My favorite part of the book is the 3 Day Tour listed in the Bicycle Touring section. When I bought my 2007 Bianchi Volpe, I bought it with the dream of touring in mind. I have yet to achieve that goal, but seeing this 3 day ride in the book brings me a step closer to that reality. Seeing how a ride can be broken down into three days and reading the ride's characteristics and cautions gives me a better, realistic appreciation of the undertaking a bike tour would be. All I need now is some training and a few willing partners...a girl can dream. 

The only suggestion I could come up with is that the book doesn't appear to come electronically - yet. In talking with Wendy, she's working on an electronic version, so all you e-book lovers, keep your eyes out! Having it accessible to mobile devices would make using the map and turn by turn directions a snap.

For the rider in your life, or perhaps one looking for a little inspiration, I suggest buying them the Cycling Greenville South Carolina guidebook. It's available on Amazon and, on the the Swamp Rabbit Inn website, wholesale orders may also be available. It can also be found local bike and gifts shops in the Greenville area.

Family-Friendly, Bike-Friendly Greenville, South Carolina (Greenville Online)

And, if you're not from the Greenville, South Carolina, consider planning a vacation and buy the book to plan out some rides when you visit. It's a great place to live, and a fun one to visit.  CBS and The Lonely Planet have named Greenville as one of the top destinations for 2015.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

National Policy Impacts Local Biking

There are two recent publications put out by the US DOT that are worth knowing about, especially if you are involved or interested in improving bike facilities. Reports from the federal level are important because they have real implications at the state and local level.

The Federal Highways Administration, which is a part of the USDOT, published a guide to help state and local official determine if a road diet is the right facility for roads in a community. The Road Diet Informational Guide is a great, timely resource that can be used to help decision makers examine and determine if changing a road is the right thing do to. A road diet is idea that by reducing the number of vehicular lanes, and adding facilities for bicyclists (bike lane or cyclepath) and pedestrians (sidewalks and street furniture), the corridor can be a better facility for other modes of transportation than just cars and trucks.

One of my favorite images of a road diet.

There are so many benefits to road diets. The guide is great because there's an honest look at the places where road diets should and should not be considered. It even gets into some technical operational features like average daily traffic, safety considerations, turning volumes and patterns. This kind of treatment has been considered for parts Old Greenville Hwy in Clemson, and has been used on North Main Street in Greenville. If your community is considering road diets, the guide is a great resource to refer to.

US DOT has put out their view thirty years out to 2045 in what traffic will look like via air travel, vehicular traffic, trucking transport and other modes. Beyond Traffic:  US DOT's 30 Year Framework for the Future is a paper on the next policy framework that will guide the Department of Transportation's programs, policies and funding.

The paper is organized around six straight forward questions that addresses how will we might move and adapt to a changing world. Examining trends and forecasts, there's some insight as to what the future may bring. The paper highlights the predication that traffic will increase between 23% - 28% in 30 years if nothing changes. Interestingly, transit only accounts for about 2% of trips, but, if public transit were removed in the 15 largest metropolitan regions, congestion would go up about 24%! (That would mean a 50% increase in congestion in 30 years if buses and light rail is not supported!) Though biking makes up less than 1% of trips people take across the country, the number of people who are biking has doubled in the last decade. And in the next 30 years cities have already planned tens of thousands of new bikeways! What a case and exciting future the USDOT has made for alternative forms of transportation!

US DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx (who served as Charlotte, North Carolina Mayor) is sharing this vision with the public, and is making giving input an easy thing to do. There's a twitter and instagram hashtag #beyondtraffic that you can track or participate in the conversation. The future of transportation is a pretty interesting picture. It's kinda a wake up call. Take a look at some of the trends and statics from the USDOT blue paper.

This is how we might move.

This is how we might move better.

How might we adapt to a changing world?
Take some time to consider what the future may look like, and how that might affect you and your family's daily life. If you feel so moved, consider sharing your insights and thoughts with the USDOT. They could surely use input from those in the Upstate of South Carolina.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Upstate News Update Winter 2015 Edition

2015 has started off with quite the punch. Old project are moving forward and new projects are starting to rise, contributing to the progress of improving biking in the upstate of the state. Without further ado, here's the latest news:

Doodle Line Trail. Things just keep moving forward for the nationally noted rail trail that will run between the cities of Easley and Pickens. In late 2014, it was reported that the plan for the shared use trail continued to move forward with reports that it might be completed by the summer of 2015. At the end of January, local officials, leaders and the public gathered to celebrate the trail's groundbreaking. The dream of the 7+ mile Doodle Line is becoming a reality. As I've heard it said, a community in motion stays in motion. To stay up on the latest, check out the trail's community-supported facebook page.

Greenville Cycling Book. Ever wondered where are the best rides are in Greenville County? Or need some ideas for a fresh, new ride? Later this month, I'll be reviewing the book Cycling Greenville SC:  Road Biking, Mountain Biking, Swamp Rabbit Trail, Bike Touring. I'm looking forward to giving folks an inside scoop about the best rides by a local rider.

Support in Clemson. It seems that there is a grass-roots movement to have a bike trail in Clemson, too. A group of people have come together to support the idea of having something similar to the successful Swamp Rabbit Trail in Greenville. It's a pretty powerful idea that is gaining support, and the group has their own facebook page. Clemson University has their bike master plan, and the City of Clemson has been developing their own bike plan, too. Perhaps this could be an idea that has some staying power for the college community. 

...and a new bike shop opens in Tiger Town. A new bike shop in Clemson has opened. BikeStreet closed unexpectedly (and almost overnight) leaving a void in the college town this past fall. SouthPaw Cycle opened up in January at the same location on Hwy 93 near the Hwy 123 interchange. Hoping this one is good...and here to stay.

If there's anything I missed, please let me know by posting in the comments below.