It was wholesome. It was good, clean fun, they say. It brought all ages and multiple ethnicities together in a positive way. It allowed the local elders to relive their youth and have a great time. They insist that no harm was done. All of these claims are entirely true, but all of these claims were also made in the defense of a crime. The harmless and entertaining activity that they ‘committed’ this past Mother’s Day in Gaffney, SC, commonly known as Cruising…is illegal.
Our neighbors in Gaffney, SC have had an ordinance on the books against Cruising since 1998. They punish it as a misdemeanor and are liable to charge you $500 or a 30-day jail-stay for violating it. Blacksburg, SC on the other hand, has no such ordinance; never has. We have ordinances banning the obstruction of streets and sidewalks and others about skating on Hwy 29 within town limits, but we do not ban cruising in any way whatsoever. We never got in on the trend of criminalizing the act of simply driving past the same point in the road three or more times in a two-hour period…which is what anti-cruising ordinances actually do.
Proponents of the ordinance claim that it was put in place because of issues with underage drinking, and fighting, and illicit drugs in Gaffney during the 1980’s and 1990’s, directly related to local cruising activities. It was only coincidence that many other municipalities did the same, after the outlawing of cruising on the streets of California where it started, due to the growing presence of violent gangs. Another method of control was possible, as proven by Blacksburg’s policy of simply leaving it alone, and Chesnee’s 1998 policy of issuing limits and a curfew for cruising activities. Taking the activity away entirely wasn’t the only solution available.
Back in the day, people loved cruising and cruising was known to stimulate business at the eateries and filling stations along the “strip”, but somewhere along the line it became associated with “bad eggs” and the obstruction of business and travel. From there, it became an excuse to discriminate against teenagers and car hobbyists who had nowhere else to go to hang out and nothing better to do. Nowadays in towns that outlaw it, it has become an excuse to ticket people who simply had to make multiple trips up and down a single road. God forbid you’re helping a friend move or are doubling back to make sure you read an interesting billboard right.
It has always been an issue worth speaking up about, but it’s getting a greater amount of attention today due to the social distancing efforts made necessary by the Coronavirus and the need for responsible ways to seek entertainment and human connection without endangering our loved ones. What sense does it make to ban one of the few options for doing so?
The townspeople of Gaffney are not particularly happy about this ordinance. Fortunately, members of their town council have made it a mission to challenge it. But they’ll have to wait until June for the next town council meeting for that to happen.
Blacksburg, SC is open now. So why not come and see us this coming Sunday while you wait for Gaffney to make up it’s mind.
Gofman, Steve. “The End of Cruising” April 1, 2004. May 11, 2020. Car And Driver. Hearst Autos, Inc.
Local Residents’ Facebook comments to Ordinance posting on GaffneyPD Facebook page May 10-11, 2020
Sec. 34-19 ‘Cruising’ Gaffney, SC Ordinance Municode. May 11, 2020
Sec. 12-1 Blacksburg, SC Ordinance Municode. May 11, 2020
“Cars Line Up in Billings Heights for ‘Corona Cruise'”, Montana. May 8, 2020. May 11, 2020. Q2 News. Scripps Local Media Inc. <www.ktvq.com>
Spencer, Janet S. “Chesnee Reins In All-Night Cruisers”. Sept. 19, 1998. May 11, 2020. Gannett Co. Inc.
Kay, Scottie. “Covid-19 Brings ‘Cruising’ Back to Gaffney, but Ordinance says No More”. May 11, 2020. May 11, 2020. WSPA7 News.