In the United States, Kentucky ranks 49 out of 50 for bicycle safety. This ranking is second to last in the US, and is largely in part due to the fact that Kentucky has not created a safe and convenient bike network system. Instead, the state of Kentucky relies on a sidepath law, causing contention between walkers, bike riders and motorists. This law should be repealed as it causes confusion, with drivers believing bikers shouldn’t be on the road.
There is no safe passing law established in the state of Kentucky, and it is recommended by the Bike League that a safe distance for motorists to pass biker is three feet. With no safe passing laws in place, KY Bike Safety ranks one of the poorest in the United States. Kentucky does not protect cyclists, and in fact the laws in place now create tension between cyclists and drivers.
In Kentucky, bike riders have to follow the laws set for motorists, with only a few differences. A person riding a bike can use a highway shoulder to travel, unlike motor vehicles which must remain on the road. Bike riders can ride side by side, with a maximum of two riders traveling this way. Even when using a bike path, cyclists can’t travel with more than two people side by side.
According to the US Department of Transportation, cycling accidents have accounted for 1.5% to 2.2% of the total fatalities caused by motor vehicle accidents in the United States from 2003 to 2012. In Kentucky, 6 bike riders were killed in 2012, accounting for .8% of the total fatalities caused by motor vehicle accidents that year in the state.
At this time, Kentucky needs to start developing a bike infrastructure that provides a safe alternative to bikers that want to commute to work every day. The current path system is not exclusive to bikes, and it is not maintained sufficiently to provide a safe ride for cyclists. Bike riders are currently riding on the side of roads, but with no passing laws in place, motorists can legally pass cyclists at any distance they choose.
Kentucky will need to start spending money on establishing and improving bike paths to ensure that more cyclists aren’t killed on the roads this year.
The Bike League for Bicycle Friendly America ranks Kentucky at number 49 because Kentucky has not adopted a state bicycle plan, funding and programming has been down in the state for bike safety, and there is no vulnerable road user law. Kentucky needs to make a number of changes to their policies and practices regarding bike riders in the state, adopting new laws that protect riders.