This is the day that I have finally had it with Highway 17.
I have a high tolerance for traffic, but this is simply not safe for the solo cyclIst. We rode for at least 10 miles with support vehicles in the front and rear of our pack for protection because there was no shoulder and we needed to take the right lane (and I could easily be undercounting). We had at least as many more miles where we could stick to a narrow shoulder, shrunk by almost constant rumble strips on the left side that jar your brain when forced to cross over and dodging chunks of rubber tire and other crud in the space that was left. It was ride in a pack, regroup when there was a break, get water if possible, hope you remembered to slather on more sunscreen, and repeat. You didn’t dare drop back or stop if it meant losing your posse. No lunch break either, just another Clif bar (at least for me) to keep you going. I think breakfast and lunch equaled 3 bars, and then it was just waiting for that group dinner.
Imagine if you were doing this on your own or with a few friends. Forget it.
I thought the East Coast Greenway‘s Trenton-to-Philadelphia stretch was bad, but this is far worse. I know it’s a new interim on-road route, shorter than going further inland, and road options are limited by the need to cross so much water in the low country. Yes, the Spanish Moss Trail in Beaufort is still under construction, with plans to expand that could help a bit. And we had some quiet stretches away from the highway.
Thankfully, Charleston has the nice West Ashley Greenway used by a wide range of people (just pave the middle section!) and hopefully will end the insane bike/ped situation over the river. Here we are doing last-minute preparations before taking the lane on the approach to the bridge:
But there is lots of work needed to make the entire stretch merely acceptable. Once again, it highlights the need for the East Coast Greenway Alliance, which strives for a route connecting cities up and down the East Coast that serves everyone from 8 years old to those who are 80.
Just putting up the tiniest “share the road” signs ever doesn’t cut it, SCDOT. We’re not all John Forester-style vehicular cyclists, let alone crazy vehicular cyclists. And given the pervasiveness of fire ants, a decent shoulder is needed not just for cyclists (as a minimum) but also for motorists dealing with a breakdown. Who wants to try fixing a flat car tire and end up itching from ant bites?
One star (out of five).
And I’m glad I live in a part of the country where the most basic infrastructure isn’t an afterthought.