Hilton Head bike group pedaling toward gold designation

tbarton@islandpacket.comDecember 11, 2011 

A newly formed island group is going for the gold.

Hilton Head Island earned a silver medal from the League of American Bicyclists in May, becoming the state's only community -- and one of the few in the Southeast -- to earn the distinction, along with designation as a Bicycle Friendly Community.

Now, cycling advocates hope the island can become even more bike-friendly and earn a gold designation.

Some of the Bicycle Advisory Committee's goals include:

  • Improving signs and mapping so visitors and residents know which destinations they can reach by bike.

  • Creating an interactive website that would include all island biking information, including activities, clubs, rides and routes.

  • Creating safe bike routes to schools.

  • Increasing traffic enforcement to promote safety and discouraging careless and reckless behavior by motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists.

  • Making all major island events convenient for bikers.

  • Making cycling a more memorable experience with convenient bike parking, scenic routes and rest areas."We don't want to rest on our laurels, but to continue doing what we can to make Hilton Head a friendly and safe biking destination," said committee co-chairman David Zunker, associate director for sales and marketing with the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce.

  • Hilton Head has more than 100 miles of paths for runners, walkers, skaters and bikers, giving it high marks with League of American Bicyclists. The island also scored well when it came to connectivity, road crossings for bicyclists, path maintenance and bike rentals.

    "The next step is to make biking more than just getting from point A to point B," said Frank Babel, founder of Squeaky Wheels Cycling Advocacy Group and co-chairman of the committee with Zunker. "We're at critical mass for pathways. The next step is making cycling safer, more convenient and more enjoyable so people feel comfortable getting on a bike to explore the island and go to school, work, the coffee shop and the beach."

    Town and chamber of commerce officials said the recognition will help attract more tourists, increase property values and improve public health.

    "This public/private effort is another positive example of town staff and local volunteers collaborating to help make Hilton Head Island a better place to live," said town manager Steve Riley.

    Follow reporter Tom Barton at twitter.com/EyeOnHiltonHead.

    Related Content:

    Pedal power: Hilton Head gets bike-friendly silver level award: May 3, 2011

    Bike town: Hilton Head hopes its pedals earn the medals: Oct. 22, 2010

    League of American Bicyclists Bike Friendly America

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