The City of Pikeville is months away from completing its new bikeway project, a project to create a designated bikeway and bike shelters, among other things, for bikers in the city.
For the bikeway project, the city plans to build and install bike shelters, bike racks and service stations at different locations around the city. Pikeville City Manager Philip Elswick said that these structures will be available to help bikers find shelter from bad weather, find shelter if they need to take a break or find a place to stop and repair their bikes.
The project will also consist of displaying signage across the city, which will inform the public about the possible presence of bicyclists and about bikers’ rights on the road, and it will include designated striping on several streets downtown. The project is expected to be completed in mid-June, barring any unforeseen delays, and while the bike racks and signage have been installed, the city needs to complete the bike shelters, service stations and striping.
The bikeway project, Elswick said, has been highly requested by many in the city through the city’s survey findings. This project, he said, helps to promote tourism by providing more outdoor recreation activities for locals and tourists who want to visit the city, and it helps with the city’s frequent organized biking events.
“There’s a growing bicycling community in Pikeville, and we want to attract people like that to Pikeville, people who maybe take a trip here just to enjoy the scenery and enjoy the city and all the amenities we have,” Elswick said. “It also allows us to have a number of new bicycle rides that the city organizes and brings people from miles away to Pikeville to be part of those rides.”
During a meeting on April 26, the Pikeville City Commission approved an invoice to Jigsaw Enterprises LLC for $43,422.50 for the bikeway project. This invoice, Elswick said, accounted for one of the city’s monthly invoices to the company for equipment and contract costs. The total estimate for the construction is $473,750, with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet granting the city $379,000 and the city matching the remaining $94,750.
Regarding the city’s signage, the road markings that will be added to several streets downtown are shared lane markings — commonly known as “Sharrows” — which depict a person riding a bike underneath two upward-pointing arrows. These road markings are used to indicate a shared lane environment for bicycles and automobiles and provide recommendations for proper bicyclist positioning, though they are not a substitute for bike lanes, cycle tracks or other separation treatments, according to the National Association of City Transportation Officials.
Pikeville Police Capt. Mike Riddle explained that, statewide, bicycles are considered vehicles on the roadways, just like automobiles, and they must abide by all traffic signals and laws. He said, though, that bicyclists are not
recommended to ride in the middle of the road because that could cause problems for cars wanting to make turns. He gave the example of a car needing to move into the middle lane in order to pull into Velocity Market from Cedar Creek Road. He said bicyclists could “cause problems” in situations like that if they are riding in the middle of the road.
“They’re encouraged to try to ride as far to the right as they can to allow for safe passage, especially on two-lane roads and such where vehicles are going to have to ease by and they’re going much slower,” Riddle said. “(Bicyclists) are still supposed to signal their turns, and they’re supposed to try and do that within 100 feet of making a turn.”
At intersections, he explained, bicyclists have the right-of-way when it is their turn, and he added that bicyclists do not need to wear helmets, though they are strongly encouraged to wear one for their personal safety in case of an accident.
Riddle recommended for drivers to understand that bicyclists have a right to be on the roadways, and he encouraged drivers to only pass the bicyclist when it is safe to do so.
“If someone’s on a bicycle and they realize that they cut a vehicle behind them, try to get as far right as they can,” he said. “That way, they can be safe passing for the vehicle traffic.”
He added, though, that the city has not encountered many complaints regarding the issue of bicycle and vehicle encounters.
“That’s not something we deal with a whole lot. We don’t have many issues,” Riddle said. “We don’t get many complaints about bicyclists, and we don’t get many complaints from bicyclists complaining about vehicles. A lot of people already have a pretty good understanding.”