Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Shifting Gears and Switching Lanes

Biking in the Upstate has been my home to explore and document bike-related stories and issues that have been relevant to the growing bike culture of South Carolina's Upstate. For more than four and a half years I enjoyed sharing and discussing these opportunities and challenges with you. This has been an amazing opportunity to build knowledge, pass along the latest biking news and share experiences.

However, for a while, I've been considering how I could stay active in promoting biking while allowing myself to grow. As you may have noticed, this summer my blog posts dropped off from my typical four posts a month. As some things in my life were shifting, I started to wonder if this was also a good time to start switching gears with my blog and efforts related to advocating for biking. I have really enjoyed sharing local, state and national biking news, documenting great case studies and exploring how biking can influence lives and impact communities through my blog – and with you.

Still wanting to make an impact and be involved with the biking community, it took me a while to figure out what the right outlet would continue to be for my interests, skills and passion. Continue with the blog? Become active in a local biking non-profit? Do more group riding? Early this summer an opportunity came up the Palmetto Cycling Coalition, the state bicycle advocacy organization, that aligned with my interests, so I jumped at it. It’ll be a great chance to meet new people, grow in my ability to continue to support biking and learn how things operate from a new perspective.

I’m excited to be starting on a new adventure devoting my volunteer time to help drive biking improvements at the state level. While my day job will continue to allow me to stay tuned into local issues, I’m looking forward in my extra time to getting involved at a larger scale. My love of living an active lifestyle, having a lighter environmental footprint and having fun is sure to continue to inspire me to support improvements in biking and walking where I live. 

So, officially, I’m going to be stepping down and signing off from this blog. There may be an occasional future update or story to share, but my efforts will largely be focused on work through other means. I do still enjoy connecting with folks, so I will stay active on Twitter (at least for a while). You can follow me at BikingintheUpstateSC.

Thank you for support and interest during this journey. I appreciate the comments, stories and support. I know that biking in the Upstate will continue to improve and grow. I am excited to help propel it in new ways. Happy Trails!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Photos of the Bike Culture in Amsterdam

My brother has been living in Germany for the last few months. Before that, he spent time in Australia and ventured over to New Zealand. Over the last year, he's had a first-hand experience of how different countries and communities support and promote biking. It's really opened his eyes and gave him a broader appreciation for biking as a means of transportation.

His recent adventures took him over to Amsterdam. He was kind enough to take some photos of bike-related sights to share what he saw.

His first encounter of the bike culture was at the airport. Here, the cell phone charging stations are human bike pedaling! That would be a great way to burn calories, channel any flying anxiety and have an eco-friendly supply of power. (Could we see this at Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport anytime soon?)

This photo is an amazing shot bikes. This demonstrates not only the volume of bike riders in the area, the dedication of bike facilities/parking by the local government and how safe and secure people feel about leaving their bikes parked in an area like this. (What if there was some way to store bike parking like this at Clemson or Furman football games? Would students and locals change their habits to get to the game by bike?)

The next photo is a great example of the narrower streets in Amsterdam and in other European cities. One can understand how it would feel more comfortable to bike on a street like this rather than drive.  

And this final photo says it all. In the Upstate, don't we *heart* biking, too?!

If you've had any international biking experiences or photos, I'd love to hear about them in the comments below!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Riding the Doodle Trail

Have you had a chance to get out on the new Doodle Trail that runs between Pickens and Easley? Earlier this summer I had a chance to ride, and I wanted to share my experience.

I started from the Easley side of the trail. The City of Easley trailhead is on Fleetwood Drive near the intersection of Fleetwood Drive and West Main Street. Mama Mia’s restaurant, Palmetto Party Shop and a Speedy Mart gas stations are landmarks near the trailhead. I parked my car in the dirt parking lot behind Mama Mia’s, got situated and took off on the trail. (The Pickens trailhead is off of Railroad Street.)
Near the Easley Trailhead on Fleetwood Drive
There were some nice wayfinding signs at the Easley trailhead, too.

Within the first 5 minutes of riding, I was smiling. It felt so good to get on two wheels, and being only 20 minutes from home! The ride was smooth, inviting, flat and cool. Riding the trail, I took in many scenes of what living in the Upstate affords:  bucolic homesteads, suburban neighborhoods and old mill town communities. The trail also ran through lush fields and cool forest.  A good portion of the trail was tree-covered which is an important aspect of enjoying a trail in the hot summer months of the Upstate. There were a few older buildings that were remnants of a by-gone era, and their industrial architecture had me dreaming of future businesses-to-be for local entrepreneurs:  brew pubs and ice cream parlors, a grocery store and a deli specializing in the Upstate’s finest foods. Just a few ideas that come to mind!

View of the Blue Ridge Mountains from Doodle Trail
The look and feel of the trail – the trail aesthetic – was open and inviting. There trail is pretty flat. There are no steep or long hills to climb. It makes for a fast, smooth and pleasant ride for just about anyone. The flat nature of the trail would also make it great accessible path. I saw all ages on two wheels and two feet – young, old, families with kids and training wheels in tow, carbon fiber bikes, couples on fat-tire recreational bikes. Seeing such a diverse group of folks enjoying the trail warmed my heart, and gave me a good feeling that Pickens, Easley and the surrounding community was really going to enjoy and benefit from the trail.

Cool view of the Doodle Trail
If you’re looking to go, especially as the hot, summer weather starts to wind down, Google Maps has been updated to show the trail where the old railroad tracks used to be. Just search for "Doodle Line Trail." This makes the trail much easier to find. Go Google!

If you’ve been out riding, share your thoughts below!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Update Coming Soon!

Hi all. As you’ve probably noticed, I haven’t been as active on my blog in the last little while. I’ve got an update coming on a new focus I will be a part of to continue supporting biking in the Upstate and across all of South Carolina. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Biking Down Under Part 3: Transit Hub in Australia

My brother and partner, Nadine, recently spent some time completing research for their individual PhDs in Australia. While they were down under, I asked them to take a few photos of bike-relate things to share with me. I always love to see how things are done somewhere else. My brother was at a university in Melbourne, and Nadine was an hour away at Deakin University in Geelong.

 At two of the Deakin University campuses, Nadine snapped a few photos of some great bike amenities. At the Waurn Ponds Deakin Campus, amenities near the campus are bike friendly. Nadine shared that are bike lanes on the roads leading to campus. A bike-friendly bike shuttle is another way bicyclist can get home if they are in need of a ride.

There's also a transit hub on campus. A transit hub is where folks can transfer from one transportation mode to another. Think a bus stop near a parking garage, or subway stops at an airport. This makes it easier for folks to make connections between a car and a bus, or a bike and a bus, for example. Here's a photo of the Tranit Lounge at the Transit Hub at the Waurn Ponds Deakin campus.

At the Waurn Ponds Deakin Campus transit hub, there is a special area for bicyclist commuters. Inside the Hub, there’s a changing room, showers, lockers, bike racks and other amenities for bicyclists. 

The indoor room can house 22 bikes and has 38 lockers. There's also some bike parking inside, adding additional security and protection from the weather.

The showers are behind doors which provide privacy and space for changing. 

There is also a bike repair station where folks can do minor repair or tune-ups on site. 

The cabinet by the sink even has an iron and ironing board to get at those minor wrinkles that may have settled in during your commute. 

There’s a vending machine nearby that has snacks, shower kits, shaving kits, bike tube repair kits, water bottles and other related accessories. This is probably my favorite thing. Someone was really thinking when they stocked this baby! Water bottles, snacks, extra tubes! Going on an impromptu ride and getting back to work or class is much easier with these kind of things at your fingertips.

Space is a hot commodity on a college campus. In a small area, the Transit Lounge packed it all:  lockers, showers and other amenities that bike commuters want and use. A transit hub and facilities like this are great examples of strong, explicit institutional support for faculty, students and staff who are interested in getting to campus by bike. Just think how your life would have been impacted if these things were at your alma mater. Would you have considered commuting? Would you have been more inclined to take a break to ride in the middle of your work or research? What if there were a few transit hubs in your community? What kind of impact would that make?

While you ponder those thoughts, I'll share some more about Australia in an upcoming post. Stay tuned!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Flat Tire Tip of the Day

It happened again recently. I was on my commute to work on a perfect early June summer morning. Sunny skies. Low traffic. On my bike....when I heard the sound of a tire losing air.

When I pulled over, I looked down and saw I had a flat. I took a closer look and found that I had run over a piece of glass that slashed into my tire. No chance of fixing the tube on the fly. Bummer.

I eventually got to work, and then later in the day I made it over to the great folks at the South Paw Cycle bike shop to get some input on my tire. I wanted to know if the tire was still usable or if I needed a new one. The folks at South Paw are really good at customer service, and I have found their expertise, advice and help indispensable.

I brought it in, and they gave me a quick, honest assessment. I my tire was still usable, but I'd have to a bit of repair work. Their suggestion? For tube, I could repatch and be on my way. For the tire, use duct tape. Yep. That's your Flat Tire Tip of the Day. If the hole in the tire is minor and on the tread (meaning the middle of the tire, and not the sidewalls), duct tape will do the trick. Duct tape is hard to penetrate, which makes it a good patching material for using on the inside of bike tires. It's also sticky, so it stays in place well. Double bonus.

Thanks to the assessment of the guys at the local bike shop, I fixed my flat, and was back on my bike in no time. And with their honest advice, I look forward to the next time I can patron their shop and continue to keep them a part of the local bike community.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Biking in the Upstate News Update, Spring 2015 Edition

After a number of great events that have happened recently, it’s time to put together the Spring 2015 edition of Biking in the Upstate News Update. There have been a lot of opportunities to participate in rides and public meetings to support the growing bike culture in the region. The momentum just keeps building! As May and National Bike Month wind down, let’s dive in on the latest.

The Pickens Easley Doodle Trail opened to the public on Saturday, May 23 with grand fanfare. Folks from all over came out to bike and walk on the 8+ mile old rail trail path that connections the cities of Easley and Pickens. Only taking 5 years to go from conceptual idea to a real, enjoyable path is pretty awesome, especially because two communities had to align and pool resources (time, money and people) to make this dream a reality. Head on over, and try out the trail during its inaugural season.

In Clemson there have been a few opportunities to get in on some planning for future developments. The master planning process for part of the Pacolet-Milliken site off of Hwy 76 and Old Stone Church Road has been in full swing. In late May, consultants completed a week-long public workshop to develop some preliminary ideas, including some robust ideas for sidewalks and bikeways. They presented the ideas in a public meeting at the end of the week. The consultants and partners are continuing to develop a final plan. Stay tune to the City of Clemson's website for information on the project's next public meeting.

Still in Clemson, The Friends of the Green Crescent also had a public meeting earlier this spring to explore different ideas for trails in the Clemson/Central/Pendleton area. The non-profit group has formed as an advocacy group to support the development of bike and pedestrian facilities in the area.

The 2nd Annual Ride for Wellness took place on May 16. Last year, I had a great time on this fun, non-race, free public ride through parts of rural Oconee County. Rides like this are great opportunities for first-time or novice riders to dip their toe into longer group rides. I applaud the local physical therapy firm Excel Rehab and Sports efforts in creating opportunities for all riders to stretch themselves and enjoy the wonderfulness that is the Upstate in mid-May.

In April, bicyclists had an opportunity to ride on the I-185Southern Connector in Greenville. The toll road, typically used by speeding cars and trucks as an alternative way to get around Greenville, was closed to motorized traffic and opened to those on people-powered two wheels. Bicyclists of all ages and abilities were invited to ride the 17.7 mile route as a way to participate in the USA Cycling national championship Bikeville Classic event. Personal commitments kept me away, but I hope to participate the next time the connector opens to bicyclists. 

With so many ways to participate in biking in the upstate, it looks like it's going to be a great summer. Find a way to get out and get active!