Cycling safety has been on the forefront of many cyclists’ minds lately, including mine, due to a widely publicized injury on the national news and two recent fatalities here in Spartanburg County, SC. In the close-knit cycling community, each tragedy hits hard, with a friend, husband, or neighbor lost needlessly.
As I shared in an earlier post regarding the recent Bandana Ride, safety has been a serious concern for me, and my concern has been heightened as I became more serious about riding with the recent crashes here in the Upstate. Lately, I have become increasingly convinced that the desperately needed cycling infrastructure improvements on our roadways will not come soon enough to prevent more tragedies from occurring. New Cut Road, the location of the most recent accident, was repaved in the past year or so, however absolutely no additional accommodations for cyclists were provided – not even so much as a 12″ shoulder. Bible Church Road, an extremely popular cycling route that connects McMillan Park with other areas, also was repaved within the past two months with no cycling improvements whatsoever. According to studies, improvements such as a bike lane only add a fraction to the overall cost of an improvement project, but benefit both cyclists and motorists, helping them to coexist on our roadways in a more amicable manner. Spartanburg County and SCDOT – take notice!!!
With my hopes for near-term cycling infrastructure improvements diminished, I opted to stay off the county roads the past several days and stick to riding in my neighborhood or off road. With my “to-do” list recently taking me to Rock Hill, I checked out the Rock Hill Riverview Criterium. Familiar with the USA Cycling event held this past April, I was surprised to learn that the track is open free daily to the general public. To try my wheels on this stretch of pavement (and for free at that) was an opportunity too tempting to pass up!
A well-maintained, closed loop dedicated track is for the competitive road cyclist what a NASCAR track would be for the hot-rodder…. miles of spirited fun! Users of the Rock Hill Riverwalk Criterium will not be disappointed, with downhill sweepers, a sharp, high speed turn, and even a short hill, all wrapped up in a compact 1.1 mile course. My brief hour on the track was a thrill from beginning to end, leaving me wishing we had a great recreational attraction like this in the Greenville/Spartanburg area. With the groundswell of popularity for cycling rising in our region, perhaps the many cycling, advocacy, and planning groups in the Upstate could come together to make our area a major draw for cycling on all levels through a complex like the one found in Rock Hill. If you agree, contact your local organization, or one of the ones listed below, and get the momentum going!