Marie McAden



Rock Hill joins ranks of “Bicycle Friendly” communities

Posted 11/29/2012 10:45:00 AM

Add another South Carolina city to the list of “Bicycle Friendly” communities. 

Rock Hill received the honor this fall from the League of American Bicyclists. It joins Columbia, Charleston, Spartanburg and Greenville as a bronze level winner. Hilton Head Island holds the silver designation — one of just a handful of cities in the Southeast to be included in the higher-ranked category.

Rock Hill Outdoor Recreation Coordinator Tom Bell credits the city’s bicycle and pedestrian task force and strong community support for its new cycling status.

“It’s a tremendous complement,” Bell said. “It puts us on the national scene in terms of making improvements for cyclists. And it really helps to make Rock Hill a more livable community.”

Among the city’s most popular bicycling venues is the Rock Hill Outdoor Center located minutes from Interstate 77 just south of Charlotte. It offers a variety of cycling options, including the Piedmont Medical Center Trail, a 2 ¼-mile up-and-back paved path running along the Catawba River.

The 250-acre park also boasts the Giordana Velodrome, a 250-meter banked racing track. One of only 20 velodromes in the country, the oval-shaped concrete course features 42.5-degree banks. That’s steeper than the NASCAR track at Talladega!

Just recently, the park opened seven miles of mountain biking trails winding through the woods and along rugged, rolling terrain. Sections of the trail vary from easy to most difficult, offering both novice and experienced cyclists a fun ride.

Coming soon is the BMX Supercross Track. In this growing Olympic sport, cyclists race across hills, jumps and banked turns. When completed, the BMX track will be the only Olympic-caliber training facility on the East Coast and one of only a handful in the United States.

Also in the works is a cyclocross course, featuring paved and off-road trails with obstacles and steep inclines. This sport requires riders to dismount, carry the bike and remount numerous times. Like the velodrome and BMX tracks, the cyclocross will host national-caliber races.