"Braving the Deep, Deadly South on a Bicycle"

Questions about bike hire abroad and everything light bike related. No off-topic chat please

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by kac

Interesting article on the dismal record of the Southern United States on bicycle accidents and safety here (from, "The Atlantic"):

"Braving the Deep, Deadly South on a Bicycle"
Cyclists are 10 times likelier to be killed in South Carolina than in Oregon. What makes southern roads so treacherous?
http://www.theatlantic.com/national/arc ... le/284293/

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Good article.
I live in South Carolina and I can say that for the most part, the roads around where I ride are okay. You have to be on the lookout obviously, but not any more than you would while riding anywhere else. One thing that does make a huge difference is road conditions. I know that the roads around where I live are trash and cause a lot more problems. Potholes, patches, rumble strips where there is barely a shoulder anyway. It all adds up to be in direct line with traffic.

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by planB

I live in frozen Canada and, ironically, loads of local bike racers/enthusiasts flock to South Carolina every winter for getaway training vacations. I've been down twice myself and left there feeling like I visited the bike riding promised land! We've always camped out in the Blue Ridge Mountains though. I gather things are different in the cities.

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Yes, up in the Northern part of Greenville, there is a little more tolerance because of the number of cyclist on the roads. In the towns and cities I think all places are going to be worse and the article mentioned Charleston which is a tough enough city to get around in by car. A lot of the roads there are very narrow.
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by HammerTime2

I suppose Asheville, North Carolina is relatively enlightened with respect to bicycles, but up in the northern part of the state, this is what bicycling is like https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=mdu-xLO8t0o#t=137 - well, a few years back anyway, when the depicted bicycle was advertised as an English racer.

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by Imaking20

Comparing to Oregon also isn't really fair... a lot more people here probably deserve to get run over... or at least tapped a little... (referring to jaywalkers)

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by btompkins0112

The propensity for the average mouth-breathing, truck driving redneck to act like a fool is simply too hard to overcome in most cases, leading them to try and "brush" up on cyclists and "flash their pipes". Most have the view that "roads are for 5k pound trucks with 40" tires and lift kits....not dudes in tight outfits".

Additionally, we have limited laws surrounding text messaging in vehicles, compound that with the overwhelming number of ham-fisted gibbons who couldn't drive with both hands on the wheel and their head in a vise looking straight at the road and you have a recipe for disaster.

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by Mapei down under

Why is it more dangerous? Seriously?

Living in Dorchester County 20 odd miles inland from Charleston, this place has to be the worst place to ride bikes that I have ever stayed.

As has been already touched on (limited restriction on cell phone call and texting), try no restriction, even the police do it.

Proportion of truck to regular cars is more than 85% in favour of the truck. Let's add to the fact that the SC driver's manual if it is actually ever read has more contradictions and flat out omissions than can be believed. No-one monitors the people completing the tests and many people are flat out using cell phones or calling people for the answers ( I saw this as I sat my test when applying for a SC license).

The complete lack of any sort of road worthy condition being imposed upon cars means that a huge proportion are so sub standard and dangerous that I am continually amazed that such vehicles are even still driveable. This rule used to be enforced but it was too difficult to enforce so the police and department of motor vehicles just stopped enforcing it!

Even the DMV rules on buying a car only tell you to make sure that it steers in a straight line and that the brakes work!
Their handbook's section on cyclists is manifestly inadequate and gives no guidance to a new motorist.

There are no connecting roads with bike paths allowing a continual path the anywhere. Bike paths stop and start at random ending in the middle of nowhere.

No shoulder on any roads anywhere, you ride on the edge between the white line and the edge of the asphalt through any gravel or potholes in the way. At any time you go for a ride, you take your life in your own hands. I use a flashing light at all times of day, I will not ride at night or in the rain as I simply do not trust the motorists.

Coming from Australia, I used to think conditions were not so good there but honestly, I'd trade those here for them in a heart beat. My son wants to ride with me but we are restricted to bike paths and our housing estate. I will NOT risk him here.

I wish I were ranting, I wish I were over reacting but the truth is, I don't think so . . .
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by shoemakerpom2010

This is very true here in Florida. In the last ten years that I have lived here moving from PA I have worked with our road division to make sure all roads designed by our company have a 3 foot median for bike lanes. This has helped tremendously in the overall scheme of things as far as more places to ride without that fear factor of being directly in the road of vehicles going 60mph. It has not stopped the deaths completely. I have also developed many miles of 10-12 ft wide paths around my own county for bicycles, people, ect that are used everyday by everybody. It is just now starting to sink in to peoples head about safety and bicycles now that more and more things are engineered this way. It still an uphill battle to get to all the people who refuse to exercise and believe all bicycles belong on the sidewalk to come around and cyclist blowing red lights, no helmets or wearing all black in the dark make it harder to get these things approved.

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by makoti

Mapei down under wrote:Coming from Australia, I used to think conditions were not so good there but honestly, I'd trade those here for them in a heart beat. My son wants to ride with me but we are restricted to bike paths and our housing estate. I will NOT risk him here.

I had the chance to visit & ride in Australia recently. Before getting there, I was warned by my friend how bad the roads were, how the drivers were terrible, and sent articles about some guy who created a one-man terror for bikes. But, I after riding in Va & other parts of the south, I thought that Aus. was almost Nirvana. Smoothest roads, all with shoulders or actual bike lanes.
Compared to there, riding here is a total crap shoot.

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by ModelT

You should try riding in Oklahoma City!!! It is ridiculous the amount of red necks with big truck, semi's, texting teens and soccer mom's and an endless number of harley's and sport bikes that like to pass you in the same lane!! We have very few roads with any kind of shoulder and even less roads that are marked bike route! We do have 3 lakes to ride around that are kinda safe except for a nice weekend day. Then you have to worry about people with dogs and little kids and all the above mentioned. But despite all that I still seem to manage a 20-30 mile ride every day.

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by FIJIGabe

Riding in the south varies dramatically. Some cities are very open and welcoming of cyclists, while others are indifferent or even opposed to the idea of cyclists. In my experience, Texas tends to be very open to cycling, with the exception of Houston, which I've read, averages two cyclist/pedestrian deaths per day. On the other hand, cities like Austin and San Antonio are very inviting of cyclists, and have a booming cycling culture.

Florida tends to be a mixed bag. Some areas, like Ft. Lauderdale, neither accept nor reject them (they do have some nice lanes, but nothing to really promote them), while Miami is pretty hostile toward cyclists. Having lived in Miami for the better part of my cycling life, it was always a risk to go out and ride. The average driver thought of themselves as the owner of the road, and everyone else (including other drivers) were just in their way. Central Florida (Clermont, Mount Dora, etc) is pretty welcoming to cycling, and has events throughout the year to draw in the cycling community. I only rode once in Orlando, so I can't comment on it, too much.
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by fa63

Add Atlanta to the list of southern cities where riding is good. I have been riding here for the better part of five years and have never had a problem.

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