I am planning to relocate from Thailand.
I have been looking at Columbia and Charleston SC as well as Savannah and Augusta in GA.
Even though, I will have a car, I prefer to use my bicycle for day to day shopping, visiting friends and running errands, as well as recreational exercise.
I've ridden most of my life (I'm over 65) in NYC traffic as well as a number of large Asian cities with no problems.
I just saw on one of the forums a report written in 2012 that southern states tend to be the most dangerous for cyclist and pedestrians, SC being one of the worse, to quote the report "Cyclists are 10 times likelier to be killed in South Carolina than in Oregon".
If true, this would be a big turn off for us to relocate here.
Anyone full time cyclists living in any of the above cities who can shed some light on their sense of safety and how respectful motorists are, not just within the cities but on roads up to 40 miles out?"
SC is very hostile to bikes. This article --Which wont load on my Mac -- is pretty much applicable to that whole area. Deadly Charleston intersection encourages risk-taking – The Post and Courier
Note the enlightened politician who explains peds and cyclists have a duty to stay out of cars way
Both old city Charleston and Savannah are stunningly beautiful, though. I love them both from a city standpoint, I think I would prefer Savannah over Charleston to live and ride a bike in, though. Visit both! they are only a relatively short drive apart
Yes, don't go to SC unless you want to be frustrated. Recommend the NW Atlanta area -- the Silver Comet Trail starts there, and the Atlanta Beltline is up and coming. Atlanta is doing more and more each year to be bicycle-friendly, much more so than most places in SC.
I live in the Charleston, SC area and am a road rider and near daily bike commuter. It is suffice to say that SC is not very bike friendly, with exception in Downtown Charleston and in Greenville. I understand that Columbia has made great progress as well.
Most of the area, you will find two way roads with narrow 10 foot lanes, no shoulders, and a 55 mph speed limit. This is combined with deep drainage ditches on both sides, alternating deep overshadow by trees, and a population notorious for drunk driving. The motorists here are not particularly hostile or aggressive as a bunch. In fact, they can be downright courteous. SC drivers are considered some of the most courteous in the country. Yes, there are exceptions and you can run into a hostile or aggressive driver anywhere, but cycling here, I have very few problems with the drivers. It is the infrastructure and the drunks that cause the problems.
If you ride here, you will need to take the lane for your own safety. SC drivers seem to be allergic to the horn button, so that's a good thing. You may get yelled at to get on the sidewalk once in a while, but not often.
Most of the pedestrian and cyclist deaths that occur here are either tourists or drunk locals crossing improperly or drunk drivers pasting some poor guy who's minding his own business.
I only ride during the daylight and I avoid the country highways. I hope this helps.
I lived in charleston for just under two years... it's not a good place for cycling. Down town itself is quite walkable, but getting there is a different story. Drivers aren't looking for you and it's a bit of a retirement-heavy area, so you end up with a lot of people behind the wheel that probably shouldn't be driving anymore. You also get a fair mix of the typical kids being kids, it is a college town and there's still a navy base near by.
That's not to say that you can't find good places to ride. There are probably some quieter roads around Mt. Pleasant that are tolerable for riding, just not as you get closer to Charleston.
At least you are used to the humid weather.
I'd rather be in the northwest corner of SC. I'd rather be in Savannah than Charleston, personally, but then I'm not a big fan of the south in general. Savannah feels more historic, cultural, urban to me (maybe due to the art school there). Charleston is sort of plastic-y, white-washed, and dull (it really struck me as being a retirement town, more than anything).
Outskirts of Athens may be good. However, Athens is known for their College life therefore you may not want to have a bunch of kids driving around drunk running you over. Maybe something like Bogart or Lawrenceville. I live in Roswell, AMAZING community for cycling and it only gets better the norther you go. If I could live anywhere and work close to home, Milton It'd be.
Is anyone familiar with Athens Georgia? It seems like it would be a reasonable fit.
Athens is a fun town, and its built up around the largest University in Georgia, so its by default going to be bike friendly because of all the college students. As a bonus its not too far from Atlanta either.
I am in Augusta Ga and it seems fine to me....not much different than anywhere else I have lived. A couple great bike shops that have several group rides a week. As for SC/GA...Savannah is an awesome city and would be my top choice, followed by Charleston.....then Greenville.......then Augusta....then Columbia.
Atlanta is an arm pit of traffic...may be great to be a cyclist there but it sucks to be a person there so your call...haha
Charlotte NC would be another city I would consider in the south east area.