Celebrate cyclists and safety this weekend

Sara Wood rode down the bike trail that runs along Lexington’s Alumni Drive in January.
Sara Wood rode down the bike trail that runs along Lexington’s Alumni Drive in January. palcala@herald-leader.com

Tomorrow, cyclists from 33 states, Canada and elsewhere will begin riding in the annual Horsey Hundred, which has showcased the Bluegrass’ beauty and bicycle-friendly environment for almost four decades.

More than 2,500 cyclists will pedal Bourbon, Scott, Franklin and Fayette county roads this weekend, so here’s a special plea to drivers to be aware and patient.

Last year, Lexington attorney Mark Hinkel was killed just short of the finish when he was struck by a pickup driven by a man who said he had drunk six beers before the crash. That was the only fatality in the 38-year history of the event.

While the Horsey Hundred is a welcome celebration of our region and its strong cycling community, it should also serve as a reminder to cyclists and drivers to truly share the road throughout the year.

Lexington and other communities have added many miles of bike paths and lanes in recent years to encourage cycling as an inexpensive and environmentally friendly transportation alternative but many people still leave their bikes in the garage due to safety concerns.

Montgomery County, Md., a busy suburb of Washington D.C., recently implemented a system for evaluating the level of stress for cyclists on streets and plotted that on an interactive map. Commuters or leisure cyclists can go online and plot the least stressful route before setting out. Writing about this for The Atlantic’s City Lab site, cyclist Laura Bliss noted it also gives city planners information about the stress levels cyclists must endure to get to certain destinations.

That may or may not be appropriate for Central Kentucky, but it is a reminder that our communities should always be alert for ways, using new or old technologies that can make the roads safer for all vehicles.