Politics & Government

Cherokee Schill, arrested for riding her bike on U.S. 27, files to run for lieutenant governor

Cherokee Schill rode south on U.S. 27 near Suff's Furniture north of Nicholasville in May.
Cherokee Schill rode south on U.S. 27 near Suff's Furniture north of Nicholasville in May. Lexington Herald-Leader

Cherokee Schill, the Nicholasville woman who gained national attention after she was cited, tried, fined and subsequently arrested for riding her bicycle on U.S. 27 in Jessamine County, filed Monday to run for Kentucky's lieutenant governor.

Schill, 42, will be the running mate of Geoff Young, 58, of Lexington, who filed as a Democratic candidate for governor. They are the first candidates to officially file for the 2015 governor's race.

"I've always been very civic-minded and I've always wanted to be a servant-leader in some capacity," Schill said in a Nov. 18 interview in Frankfort when she and Young announced their candidacies at the Capitol Rotunda.

When Young asked Schill to be his running mate, she said her first reaction was, "No, this isn't anything I need to be doing right now."

But after further discussions, Schill concluded she and Young "had the same common goal," which is to "hold the interest of the people above politics as usual."

Young said he and Schill met through Facebook, "and then in person in Lexington as we were both riding bicycles." That was earlier this year.

"She's a fighter," Young said of Schill. "She's honest, tough and smart. What we need are people willing to speak the truth, to cut through all this deceptive political rhetoric that we seem to be drowning in."

Schill said she changed her party affiliation from "lifelong Republican" to Democrat to file as Young's running mate.

She gained local and national notoriety this year for her daily commutes by bike via U.S. 27 from Nicholasville to Lexington, one of the busiest traffic arteries in Central Kentucky. Some 43,000 motor vehicles travel the road each day.

Law enforcement officers cited her three times for careless driving. Schill said the shoulder is hazardous because of debris and rumble strips that could cause her to fall. During a trial in September, her expert witnesses and defense attorneys argued that it was safer for a cyclist to be in the lane of travel so cars behind her could see her clearly and have time to brake or merge left.

But the judge said she had violated a law requiring slow-moving vehicles to move as far to the right "as practicable." Schill was fined $433.

She was later arrested on a charge of second-degree wanton endangerment and has two other pending cases of careless driving in Jessamine District Court. Pretrial conferences on those cases are scheduled Dec. 10.

Schill has not been riding her bike on U.S. 27 since about mid-October, when she signed an agreement not to ride on the road until the pending cases were resolved.

She had been employed at a Subway restaurant in Nicholasville, but she said her paid job now is to raise money for the campaign.

Young was defeated by Elizabeth Jensen in the May primary for 6th District congressional seat. Jensen was defeated in November by incumbent U.S. Rep. Andy Barr.

Young also ran for the state House in 2012, losing Republican incumbent Stan Lee of Lexington.

A native of Massachusetts, Young came to Kentucky in 1982 and worked for state government in Frankfort as an engineer for 14 years before retiring in 2006.