Few city bike lanes endanger bikers

Hannah Fowl/The News A commuter student bikes on a city sidewalk after class since bike lanes do not exist on the road.
Hannah Fowl/The News A commuter student bikes on a city sidewalk after class since bike lanes do not exist on the road.

Hannah Fowl/The News
A commuter student bikes on a city sidewalk after class since bike lanes do not exist on the road.

With little shoulder space on most city roads, the battle between biking commuters and drivers is a danger to both.

Rachel Williams, senior from Louisville, Ky., rides her bike to and from campus almost everyday. As an off-campus student, she finds the biggest difficulty is her own fear.

Williams recounted the times she has been almost hit by cars.

“I’ll give you my top three, and you can choose,” she said.

In one day, Williams was nearly hit five times. She has been shoved off the road, had her tire popped by glass, nearly collided with a truck that backed out in front of her and was almost hit when a truck tried to make a left-hand turn while she was making the same turn.

“I was coming around a curve, and a giant truck speeds up to go around me,” Williams said. “At the same time, another car was coming around the curve in the other direction and they almost hit each other and me.”

Williams, who lives off of North 16th Street, prefers to take an alternate route instead of riding on 16thStreet through the Five Points intersection, which is notorious for traffic problems.

“Ideally, I’d ride down 16th, but because of traffic and itty bitty roads, I take back roads,” Williams said. “Small roads, big trucks: not good.”

Part of 16th Street has sidewalks that run down one side of the road, end at Lowes Drive and continues on the other side of the road until stopping at highway 120.

Travis Brown, projects administrator for Murray, began his job in July. Brown said that section of 16th Street is not under the city’s jurisdiction. The Commonwealth of Kentucky is responsible for maintaining it.

Brown said plans to renovate Five Points could be interfering with the completion of the sidewalks.

“We’re trying to make that big cluster of roads more feasible for cars,” Brown said. “We’re looking at building a roundabout and clean it up with decoration.”

The city recently finished installing more sidewalks throughout Murray. Extending current sidewalks is not in the city’s budget at this time, nor is adding bike lanes to the roads, Brown said.

“We’ve exhausted all of our funds,” Brown said. “We have plans there for more sidewalks for pedestrians, but they’re in holding.”

Brown said as the need for bike lanes increases, the city will pay more attention to adding bike lanes and paths.

As of now, there have been few complaints sent to City Hall regarding the lack of bike lanes.

“As far as we know, there hasn’t been much interest,” Brown said. “We’ve had no real complaints from bikers.”

While there haven’t been many complaints, Brown said he has seen and is pleased with the uptick in the number of bikers throughout the city.

“It’s a good thing, I think,” Brown said. “We just don’t want them getting hit. As interest goes up we’ll look into it more.”

In the meantime, Williams said she hopes more drivers and bikers will pay attention.

“Awareness is key,” Williams said. “Bikers need to follow biking laws. They’re the same as laws for cars. It causes more trouble when bikers are swerving from the road to the sidewalk, back and forth. And wear a helmet.”

Story by Amanda Grau, Staff writer