More than 600 cyclists will be riding across the Charleston area Saturday to raise money for cancer research at the Medical University’s Hollings Cancer Center. With cyclists on routes ranging from 25 to 100 miles long, motorists will have to be extra careful to share the road.
No roads will be closed due to the ride, but the cycling and pedestrian lane on the Ravenel Bridge will be closed from 8-9 a.m. to allow cyclists to cross. Police will be on either side of the bridge, and they’ll also be located in other areas that need support, according to Shannon Rice, one of the organizers for the “LOWVELO” event. This is the ride’s first year.
She expects some congestion in the North Charleston, Charleston and Mount Pleasant areas, particularly in the morning. The race begins at 8:15 a.m., and while those taking the 25-mile route are expected to finish around noon, cyclists on the 50- and 100-mile routes have until 6 p.m. to conclude. All riders will begin at North Charleston’s Riverfront Park.
With hundreds of cyclists sharing the road with motorists, safety is a top concern. Rice said most of the cyclists will be riding in groups and they’ve been advised to ride single file to conserve space. Still, she said drivers should be prepared to give the cyclists some room.
Be patient, she said, and go slow. Drivers should be very careful if trying to pass the cyclists, Rice said.
According to Rice, North Charleston roads will be the most affected. Each route takes cyclists from North Charleston into downtown Charleston. The 50- and 100-mile routes then branch off into Mount Pleasant and Sullivan’s Island, with some riders going through the Francis Marion National Forest.
As of Tuesday, 637 riders have signed up for the event. Around 380 cyclists will be on the 25-mile route, Rice said, with around 120 each doing the 50- and 100-mile routes.
Although she cautioned drivers to be careful, she didn’t want anyone to avoid the ride’s routes.
“Come out and cheer them on,” Rice said.
Conrad Williams, an MUSC pediatrician from the Clements Ferry Road area, plans to ride the 100-mile route. He hasn’t biked for several years, but the LOWVELO event inspired him to start training again to get ready for the ride. He rarely bikes on Charleston roads for safety reasons but he said he’s less worried than usual for Saturday’s event.
“I suspect that having a larger than usual number of cyclists on the road will force drivers to be more cautious,” Williams said.
“Drivers should, as always, be paying close attention to other users of the road. Put down your phones, give bikers extra space if possible by moving over, use turning signals appropriately. Just be kind,” said Williams.
Bikers should also be cautious, he said, and follow the rules of the road, wear a helmet, use hand signals and forgo headphones.
Reach Fleming Smith at 843-937-5591. Follow her on Twitter at @MFlemingSmith.