Move over — share the road with bicyclists

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By Jenny Blandford

I learned to ride it when I was a youngster with training wheels attached and a guiding hand holding on to the back of the seat until I was ready to take off. It was my first vehicle with wheels and a license was not required…

It was my first bicycle.

It was an old bicycle my dad had found in a shed somewhere. It was originally painted blue or red but it was hard to tell from all the brown rust that had taken over as the main color, mainly caused by weather and age. But the hideous appearance, flat tires and rusted chain didn’t stop my dad from fixing the bicycle for his little girl. Soon after, it was painted pink — my favorite color — and the rusted old thing soon beamed like a shiny new penny.

I learned to operate my first moving vehicle on that bicycle. It wasn’t always smooth riding, either. There were constant crashes at the beginning that resulted in scraped up knees and elbows and bruises from time to time. I once remember taking off too fast down the driveway, forgot how to break and kicked my legs out in the air before crashing into the embankment in front of the barn.

My bike was around until the day I carelessly let it fall to the ground instead of resting it on its shiny silver metal kickstand. With it snuggled close to the ground and not easy for my uncle to see when he came over that day, he ran over it. My bike went from being shiny and pink to a twisted pile of metal mush.

I have had several bikes through the years, but none have been able to replace my first bike. I soon traded my two wheels in for four wheels, a motor and gas to power a big hunk of metal instead of the swift movement of my legs to pedal, the bicycle days were forgotten in the ladder part of my teenage years.

With the rising price of gasoline and ways to eliminate the “carbon footprint” on the environment, the two-wheeled vehicles that have been around since the 19th century are becoming increasingly more popular for adults. Riding a bicycle has its health benefits, too.

In larger cities, it’s easy to commute to work on a bicycle, and I have noticed the number of cyclists on the road has increased.

The Kentucky Department of Transportation has the Kentucky Bicycle and Pedestrian Program “to serve the needs of bicyclists and pedestrians within the state by supporting and encouraging bicycling and walking as forms of transportation.”

According to the department’s Web site, http://bikewalk.ky.gov/, the program also strives to “provide a safe, efficient, environmentally sound, and fiscally responsible transportation system that enhances the quality of life for Kentuckians.”

According to the program’s Web site, in 2005 there were 56 pedestrians and 12 bicyclists killed in Kentucky and 832 pedestrians and 337 bicyclists were injured in roadway accidents.

With that being said, motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians need to be aware of each other when on Kentucky roadways for safety precautions.

This past weekend, my friends, Daniel and John, embarked on a four-day 261-mile bike ride on KY 62. It was the first time either had attempted such a long trip. Their longest trip prior to that was 45 miles.

Their trip began in Versailles Friday. That evening, they stayed in Bardstown followed by Leitchfield on Saturday and Central City on Sunday. Their trip culminated Monday in Princeton. They did not bike back but instead had a friend pick them up in Princeton.

I was concerned about their safety on the roadway more than whether they could make the trip. When Daniel called me Tuesday morning to tell me how great the trip went, I was relieved. I asked if he would consider another similar trip and he immediately said, “Definitely.”