By Natalie M. Zeigler
Hartsville has really developed its status as a bicycle-friendly community in recent years. We are home to the very active Hartsville Polar Bear Cycling Club and the annual Loop da Ville bike ride sponsored by the Hartsville Family YMCA. Just this weekend, our city will serve as a stop for Bike MS, an annual bicycle ride benefiting the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and as the location for the Hartsville Family YMCA Triathlon.
In the City of Hartsville, we recognize the value of bicycle use in making our community attractive, healthy and vibrant. The new transportation portion of the Hartsville 2020 Comprehensive Plan, proposed by the Planning Commission, calls for bicycle-friendly projects including bike racks. That particular vision will be fulfilled by the installation of the City’s first decorative bike racks around downtown in the weeks to come.
The racks can offer much benefit to the area by encouraging greater bicycle traffic, which has been shown to bring more money into local businesses than car traffic. The installations improve downtown parking options and offer a secure location to park a bike, reducing the temptation to chain it to a tree or leave it in some other unsuitable area.
Bicycle traffic can go a long ways towards giving downtown a positive, friendly and welcoming feel, and the racks themselves may contribute to that inviting atmosphere. Ours are coming from the South Carolina company Cycle Stops, which recently made news with the placement of decorative racks around Columbia. Now these same racks, featuring a design of a palmetto tree and a bicycle, are coming to Hartsville.
Our cycling opportunities stretch outward through other parts of the community as well. Bicycle paths extend out on West Carolina Avenue and include other areas of the city such as South Fifth Street, Home Avenue and Washington Street, where the path takes cyclists straight to our multi-use recreation complex at Byerly Park. Portions of the path are paved, some marked on the street, and some are on sidewalks, outside of downtown where sidewalk riding is illegal. The full route is found on the City website, www.hartsvillesc.gov, and will soon appear in a Recreation and Fitness Guide highlighting facilities at all City parks and the exercise opportunities available among them.
Making a city more bicycle-friendly requires the development of many connected projects over time. We always work to make the case that the City of Hartsville is an excellent place not just to live and work, but also to recreate. With the support of projects like bicycle trails and racks, we have a great opportunity to build up this transportation alternative in our city.