Jason Baines, killed in crash on Midland Avenue, is remembered for his love of bikes

jkegley@herald-leader.comOctober 25, 2012 

Jason Baines lived by the bicycle.

The 41-year-old Lexington man had dabbled in being a lawyer, but his coworkers at Lexington Bicycle Center on Red Mile Road said his career path always circled back to selling and repairing bikes.

"I liked to call him a lifer," said Robert Brandon, Mr. Baines' coworker and friend. "He was a cyclist, a master mechanic, a racer ... It's what his whole life has been."

On Wednesday, Mr. Baines was killed when he was struck by a car while riding his Schwinn 411 IG5 across Midland Avenue from Short Street on his way home from work. When the weather was good, Mr. Baines always made the 4-mile commute from Red Mile Road to his home on Aurora Avenue by bike, said Gary Collins, owner of Lexington Bicycle Center.

Mr. Baines' coworkers said Thursday they did not know what they would do without him. Regular customers had come to rely on him; many stopped by on Thursday, unable to believe Mr. Baines had died.

The shop eventually will fill his position, "but we'll never be able to replace him," Brandon said.

"He was kind, patient, and friendly to anyone who walked through our doors," said Brittany Johnson, another of Mr. Baines' coworkers. "Jason never met a stranger."

His career in the bicycle business dates back more than 20 years.

Mr. Baines "got his feet wet" when he was in high school, Collins said. He worked part time in Elizabethtown, his hometown, at E'Town Schwinn Cyclery Shop. In exchange for his services, Mr. Baines received BMX parts.

"I'm sure he got paid some, too, but I think a lot of it was he worked for parts," Collins said.

He came to the University of Kentucky to study English after he graduated from high school, Collins said. At that time, Collins owned Pedal Power, a bicycle shop on South Upper Street. Mr. Baines came to him looking for a part-time job.

"He was going to do that until he got out of school. Then, when he graduated, he just went on full-time. He liked it, and people liked him," Collins said. "He couldn't see any reason not to keep doing it."

In 2000, Collins sold the store, and Mr. Baines went to the University of Louisville, where he got his law degree.

"He worked in Louisville at a law firm for a couple of years and decided he didn't like being a lawyer," Collins said.

Mr. Baines was hired as a manager at Dick's Sporting Goods, once again selling bikes. When Collins opened the Lexington Bicycle Shop in 2008, Mr. Baines came back full-time, he said.

Mr. Baines' death was the second death among Lexington's tight-knit cycling community in two months. Thomas "Rick" Kerr, 53, a volunteer at the Broke Spoke Community Bike Shop, died after he was rear-ended by a sport-utility vehicle on Russell Cave Road on Sept. 2.

Brown Funeral Home, 306 College Street in Elizabethtown, was handling funeral arrangements for Mr. Baines. According to his obituary, survivors include his mother and stepfather, Susan Pickett and Jack Kroeger of Elizabethtown, and a fiancée, Elli Wright of Lexington.

Visitation will be from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday, with a funeral following immediately after, all at the funeral home.

Josh Kegley: (859) 231-3197. Twitter: @HLpublicsafety.

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