December 8, 1999 | By: Mark Eclov
Lexington, KY

The Kentucky Office of Highway Safety has provided the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service with $63,000 of federal grant money to address the issue of bicycle and pedestrian safety awareness.

The program funding will be used to develop the Bicycling in Kentucky Education (B.I.K.E.) Program. The program will be carried out through the Kentucky Cooperative Extension service and the funding will be administered through the Bio-systems and Agricultural Engineering department at the University of Kentucky.

The grant money provides support for a full time salaried Extension Associate who will collaborate with representatives from the Highway Safety Program, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet's Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator and the Kentucky Bicycle and Bikeway Commission.

Cheryl Wyatt, who recently served as a 4-H agent for Fayette County, has accepted the new position as Extension associate specialist for Bicycle and Pedestrian Education.

"As a local, grass root agency, the ability of the county Extension service offices to bring about change is documented and well known," noted Wyatt. "The B.I.K.E program will provide avenues to train agents, volunteers and other agency personnel. In addition, the opportunity to reach teachers and children exists through the 9,000 4-H clubs in Kentucky."

The cycling trend is growing by leaps and bounds. Nationally, over 8,100 miles of abandoned railroad corridors have been turned into hiking, biking and horseback riding trails.

Bicycling magazine reported that the number of bicycle commuters had grown from 3.3 million in 1990 to 7.9 million in 1997.

Kentucky has lagged behind in this trail development trend, but a new Rails to Trails Council, interested citizens, and local governments have added momentum to this effort. Bicycling groups in Kentucky are also reporting increased membership and higher registration numbers.

While the bicycle can be a economical way to commute to work or a fun way to exercise, it must be handled properly.

"Data from the 1999 Kentucky Highway Safety Plan indicated that there were 512 (reported) bicycle and 1,057 pedestrian crashes with cars in Kentucky during 1997," noted Wyatt.

The new B.I.K.E. program will support the objectives of the Federal Highway Administration and the Kentucky Highway Safety Plans which are to reduce fatal and injury crashes and foster the increased use of helmets.

To support those objectives the B.I.K.E. program will provide safety and skill development opportunities in the state through law enforcement personnel and community leaders such as Extension volunteers, teachers and citizen groups.


Writer: Mark Eclov (606) 257-7223
Source: Cheryl Wyatt (606) 257-3000