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City urged to become more bike-friendly

BY CARRIE DILLARD cdillard@paducahsun.com

The League of American Bicyclists is on a mission to encourage more cities to become bicycle-friendly.

Steve Clark, a community specialist with the league, visited Paducah this week as part of its Bicycle Friendly America program. He was joined by city officials, health care representatives, business owners and other bicycle enthusiasts for an 18-mile tour through Paducah.

The purpose was to exchange ideas about how to make the city a better biking community and better inform local residents about what Paducah already has to offer, said Planning Director Steve Ervin.

"Paducah has already made strides to be more bicycle friendly," he said, citing the Greenway Trail as a prime example. "We had beautiful weather for this group, and we helped further educate many locals about what we have already done."

Through a grant from Trek Bicycle Corporation, Clark will visit 75 cities this year, encouraging city leaders to integrate more designated bicycle routes into road improvement plans.

Paducah was the second stop for Clark along a five-city tour across Kentucky and Tennessee this week. He also visited Nashille,  Memphis, Lexington and Louisville.

"I enjoyed Paducah. It's got tremendous potential," he said.

Clark praised Paducah's recreational trails but felt the city lacked appropriate signage and designated bike paths in residential and business areas.

"The trails to the river are awesome, but people want to bike not just for recreation, but also to go to school and to work," he said.

Clark felt Paducah would benefit from one continuous bikeway, similar to the Music City Bikeway in Nashville.

"You could even give it a name, like the Artisan Bikeway. It'd be a number of streets that connect to one another through signage -- a way to get from one side of town to another."

Hutch Smith, owner of BikeWorld on Joe Clifton Drive, helped facilitate the meeting between Clark and city officials. He and his wife, Martha Emmons, participated in the bike tour Tuesday.

"We have a partnership with the league and the Trek Corporation. This was more about educating the city," Smith said. "In other cities across the country, economic growth is often tied to bicycle-friendly streets."

Smith agreed much remains to do to make cycling a viable way to travel in and around Paducah.

"The Greenway Trail is a wonderful start, but we've got a long way to go, in my opinion. Forty percent of car rides are 2 miles or less. Why not enjoy the outdoors, exercise and ride your bike those 2 miles?"

That's not to say a designated bike path needs to be drawn on every street, he continued, but better signage and bicycle accessibility near parks and schools would certainly help.

"Using a bicycle for transportation is a wise and doable thing, and we want to encourage that," Smith said. "If you start educating the kids that riding your bike to school is safe and fun, it will gradually be passed along to their parents, to other adults."

Paducah has not applied to the League of American Bicyclists for designation as a "Bike Friendly Community." Clark said many cities, like Memphis, apply multiple times before they will receive their certification.

"Memphis has yet to be designated as bike friendly, but they've used the feedback and made tremendous progress," he said.

Clark also recommended a task force or committee be formed in Paducah to "get this momentum going."

"Paducah is already attracting a lot of people from outside the area. You could really capitalize on that and benefit economically," he said. "The reality is people want choices. They want to ride their bikes. They want to have a choice beside getting in the car."

Ervin said the city is open to looking at ways to increase bike use but gave no specific plans.

Learn more about the League of American Bicyclists at bikeleague.org.

Contact Carrie Dillard, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8657.

Comments made about this article - 1 Total

M.R.Ray, retired, disabled wanting to improve agility by bicycling posted on: Saturday, May 24, 2014 6:33 PM

Title: City urged to become more bike-friendly/suggestion

After reading this article i remembered another news item that appeared in the paper earlier this week; Paducah Police plan auction
Posted: Tuesday, May 20, 2014 12:24 AM
Their article states they have 60 bicycles to sell; this is an excellent way for possible interested people who might need a bike! Don't you think so? or perhaps if they don't sell all of them, one of the Advocates for this Promotion of Bike Rider project, maybe should consider buying the remaining bikes, and either Advertise them to Rent, or Rent towards purchase plan, in case 'newbees' don't want to make an initial investment, would like to try a Beginning bike exercise ride, if it were organized.
i have a bike of my own, but i might join in if i had a partner, my age and out of shape like me; but i wouldn't want to buy a bike unless i was CERTAIN i could continue.That's what gave me this idea, which I've described.
Thanks, hope you can make this project a success.
old bike riding love, would like to do again, if able.

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