You won't see Thomas Bradford cruising around town in tight spandex shorts very often. But you will see him peddling as often as possible. He's a firm believer that biking is a more effective mode of transportation than anything else.
There are various reasons why, of course. Take for example the improvement of one's mental and physical health just from a short jaunt on a bike. Then there's the environment to consider. A bike is much more environmentally friendly than a car.
That's why, as director of Charleston Moves, Bradford and his team are working diligently to create a safe cycling community in the Lowcuntry.
In celebration of that, Charleston Moves is celebrating National Bike Month in May.
A variety of events will take place throughout the month to include:
• May 8 is bike to school day
• May 13-17 is national bike week
• May 15 is Ride of Silence
• May 17 is Bike to work day
• April 25 & May 25-midnight moonlight rides
• May 18 - B2B separate town rides
• May 3 - Brewhaha party
The purpose for all these events is to broaden awareness and the engagement base for residents of the Lowcountry.
Bradford said the variety of events planned gives people choices and demonstrate the depth of Charleston Moves' support for safe cycling opportunities.
Charleston Moves has won multi-agency commitment for a bike/pedestrian path across the Lowcountry called Battery to the Beach.
This signature route (B2B) is the new foundation of a Charleston area regional bicycle connectivity plan that covers 24 miles from the Isle of Palms Marina through downtown Charleston to Folly Beach.
The route will be marked by distinctive signage and be safe enough for inexperienced bicycle riders to use without anxiety.
It “connects the dots” eastward and westward from the ends of the Ravenel Bridge where there is already a successful bike/pedestrian path) linking six towns and cities, numerous historic sites, parks, schools and businesses. Bradford added that Charleston Moves will provide the signage for the Battery to the Beach route and the first of those should go up by January.
The biggest obstacle the project faces now is opening up a new bike/pedestrian path on the Ashley River Bridge In the meantime, the May events for National Bike Month offer something for everyone.
April 25 and May 25- enjoy full moon midnight rides on the south end of the Charleston Peninsula beginning and ending at Brittlebank Park.
May 3, Friday – a party for all at the Visitor's Center Shed on the Peninsula - free admission, craft beers sold, live music, bike polo, fashion show, BMX, movies
Bike to School Day – May 8, Wednesday – coordinating with Safe Rides to School
Ride of Silence – May 15, Wednesday ride on the Peninsula to honor cyclists who have died on the road.
Bike to Work Day – May 17, Friday (West of the Ashley: meet behind Earthfare for short rally and bike across the Ashley River Bridge with police escorts- Earthfare providing refreshments – end at the Medical University of South Carolina Clyburn Center where there'll be refreshments, chair massages, CARTA bike rack demostrations, car bike rack demostrations, bike safety information, bike tune-ups) or (East of the Cooper: meet at Waterfront Park and ride to work over the Ravenel or work locations in Mount Pleasant – all those who cross the Ravenel are invited to stop by MUSC).
Battery2Beach Rides – May 18 - Saturday mayors, council members and municipal staffers are all encouraged to ride the route. Simultaneous rides along the B2B route - on James Island, Folly Beach, West Ashley, Charleston Peninsula, Mount Pleasant, Sullivan's Island and the Isle of Palms.
According to Bradford, “cycling could play a huge role in the future of Mount Pleasant specifically.”
But humans are creatures of habit and Charleston Moves must change people's way of thinking. For example, if you only need to make a trip to the store, take your bike, Bradford said. Why start up your car when you're just going a few blocks?
Bradford and fellow Charleston Moves volunteer Pat Sullivan hope to make Bike Month bigger and better than ever.
The Charleston Moves awareness campaign has opened the minds of parents, Sullivan said. More and more now see the need for physical exercise opportunities for their children - particularly in a digital world where entertainment has become so stationary.
And adults are increasingly peddling to work, restaurants and the grocery. “They're finding more reasons to use their bike,' said Bradford.
Bradford and Sullivan both said there is more work to be done as far as providing and creating safe biking routes. But Bradford bragged on Mount Pleasant town officials “who have done a great job in looking for future options to allow residents to be physically active.”
The Lowcountry is somewhat behind areas like Greenville but the Battery to the Beach is changing that.
“It's not about spandex and a fancy bike,” said Bradford. “Bikes are for everybody. And they're not just for recreation but to make transportation easier, especially for short trips.”
The Battery to the Beach route will make that possible, because once complete, it will be a continuous route with proper connections.
Jumping in one's car is a cultural problem, Sullivan explained. “We have to help everyone graduate their mind set and consider a bike as useful - not just a thrill.”
And this is more than a movement, Bradford said. Bike and pedestrian connectivity is a need.
“Continuous, safe connectivity has to be in the forefront of our minds,' he said.
To get involved or participate in National Bike Month activities visit www.charlestonmoves.com.