One of the most popular activities for baby boomers relocating to adult communities is bike riding. Whether we are talking about casually riding around town, cruising down the beach, or a vigorous ride deep into the woods on a mountain bike friendly nature trail, there is a lot to love about bicycling. It is also a great way for boomers to stay active while taking it easy on their muscles and joints.
For those reasons, and a host of other ones, communities that are bicycle-friendly can be especially interesting to the baby boomer demographic. If you happen to be one of those boomers that is particularly interested in bike-related amenities, The League of American Bicyclists has done some extensive research for you regarding bicycle-friendly communities in the Carolinas.
Bicycle Friendly Criteria
In order to fairly assess how bicycle friendly a community is, they have broken the concept down into five categories that they consider to be essential. Those categories are Engineering, Education, Encouragement, Enforcement, and Evaluation/Planning.
Engineering and Education are fairly self-explanatory. The community in question needs to have been designed to accommodate bicycles through bike lanes, bike paths, and bike trails. There also must be adequate bicycle parking in public locations. The Education category simply requires that there be programs in place for both children and adults to improve their cycling skills.
While having a handle on the Engineering and Education categories requires a community to have some upfront investment in place, the categories of Encouragement, Enforcement, and Evaluation/Planning require ongoing focus and support. Community members must be encouraged to use their bicycles through events like bike months, the rules designed to protect cyclists must be enforced, and community leaders must diligently maintain the community’s bicycle friendly planning.
As you can see, The League of American Bicyclists does not take their bicycle friendly designation lightly, which means that the communities they recommend will have to be impressive.
Bicycle Friendly Communities in the Carolinas
The Carolinas have a combined 17 Bicycle Friendly Communities, 29 Bicycle Friendly Businesses, and 8 Bicycle Friendly Universities. Out of the 17 communities that made the cut, there were 2 silver level communities and 15 bronze level communities. Let’s take a quick look at the two silver level communities:
Carrboro, North Carolina
Carrboro is a small town community located just outside of Chapel Hill with a population of about 20,000. According to their Bicycle Transportation Plan, which was adopted in 2009, Carrboro attempts to provide all of its citizen with the option of using bicycles for transportation, recreation, and health reasons.
Carrboro is known for having a large number of bicycle paths and bike lanes on many of its major roads. There is also a heavy local focus on developing greenways and educating the public about bicycle safety.
Hilton Head, South Carolina
Commonly thought of as a vacation destination, Hilton Head has a population of just over 30,000 and is an incredibly popular community for active adults who are passionate about bicycling. The community is home to more than 20 different bicycle shops, as bicycling is a big business among vacationers.
Because of the relaxed atmosphere in Hilton Head, bicycles are an extremely popular method of transportation and recreation. It is not uncommon for residents to be seen riding bikes to the grocery store or out to dinner.
Bronze Level Bicycle Friendly Communities
In addition to Carrboro, NC and Hilton Head, SC, the following communities in the Carolinas have also been designated as Bicycle Friendly Communities by The League of American Bicyclists:
• Asheville, NC
• Cary, NC
• Chapel Hill, NC
• Charleston, SC
• Charlotte, NC
• Columbia, SC
• Davidson, NC
• Durham, NC
• Greensboro, NC
• Greenville, SC
• Raleigh, NC
• Rock Hill, SC
• Spartanburg, SC
• Wilmington, NC
• Winston-Salem, NC
If you have already spent some time researching destinations for your future residence in the Carolinas, you will probably notice that most of these Bicycle Friendly Communities are the same communities that are already popular with many relocating boomers. This is no coincidence.
If you are just getting started on your search for a great relocation destination in the Carolinas and you are passionate about bicycling, these areas can serve as an excellent starting point for your search.