For locals and visitors alike, biking has become a popular mode of transportation on our small island.    Renting bikes for vacationing on Hilton Head has become synonymous with booking your accommodations.  With miles upon miles of multi-use pathways throughout the island and various gated communities, you can self-propel yourself on a tour around Hilton Head stopping at marinas, shops & cafes.  Some will even venture to the beach for a bit more challenging ride thanks to the sand and ocean breeze.  I can’t think of a better way to experience the beauty of our island than by bike. 

Hilton Head Island’s focus on a “pro-bicycle” community was recognized when it received the Gold Level Bicycle Friendly Community Award by the League of American Bicyclists. This distinction is not easily obtained as proven by Hilton Head Island being the only Gold Level community in the Southeast and one of only two towns on the East Coast.

When thinking of biking on island, the leisurely paced beach cruisers typically come to mind. Hilton Head Island is also home to a growing community of road cyclists, sporting their snug bike kits, aero helmets and traveling in packs down the main roadways. Mostly locals, it’s not uncommon for vacationers to join in on the fun of riding around what we endearingly call our “gerbil cage”.

Being a cyclist myself, I have enjoyed many hours looping the Cross Island parkway and the south-end loop which winds around Palmetto Bay Road, Cordillo Road and South/North Forest Beach. Sticking to a specific route and hours, road cyclists attempt to avoid traffic congestion. Unfortunately, I have experienced more times than I would like to admit, the harassment of drivers and their passengers loudly sharing their opinions on cyclists using the island roadways. Taken with a grain of salt, and knowing they are unaware of South Carolina’s law regarding cyclists using the roadways, I peddle on.

With biking growing in popularity, it is important for drivers (both locals and vacationers) to know the rules for cyclists. So here we go…my highlights taken from Section 56-5 of the South Carolina Bike Laws-Article 27:

Multi-use paths are not bicycle paths. Bicycles may use these paths but they are not required to. More importantly, they are not intended for faster riding (in excess of 15mph….road cyclists typically average 21-26mph)
• Road cyclists must use designated bike lanes, where delineated, otherwise roadway use is permitted. Our island has only one short section (maybe 100 feet) of designated bike lane which is near the circle on Arrow Road, hence cyclists riding in the roadway everywhere else.
• When on the roadway,
bicycles are considered vehicles and must abide by all traffic laws.
• Cyclists must
ride with traffic as close to the right side of the lane as possible & practical, no more than 2 abreast. (riding in the shoulder is not required) Cyclists may take the entire lane if needed AND may ride in a lane other than the right-hand lane if needed for their route (turning left for example)
Harassment of a cyclist, including but not limited to verbally taunting or throwing objects in the direction of riders, is a violation of the South Carolina Bike Law. Guilty parties could be found guilty of a misdemeanor and face fines and/or imprisonment.

With continued education for riders and drivers alike, we can keep the island safe & enjoyable for all biking enthusiasts. Next time you’re on Hilton Head and see a female riding a black Trek time trial bike feverishly attempting to keep up with a guy on a royal blue Trek time trail bike, shout out words of encouragement to my husband & me.


For more details, please visit the Palmetto Cycling Coalition page

Visiting to the island and interested in riding our roadways or joining one of the group rides? Reach out to Todd or me for details on directions, times and locations.