Wheels are in motion to help bring Prestonsburg and the surrounding area to the forefront of cycling in the nation.
During a meeting of the Big Sandy Area Development District (BSADD) – Transportation Committee on Thursday January 30, discussions were had about the ongoing development of bicycle trails in the Big Sandy region.
Don Fields, owner of Pro-Fitness Multisports Inc., said that local cyclists were prepared to start small and work with the Transportation Cabinet over time to achieve the best results. Prestonsburg and the surrounding region is already home to some of the most picturesque cycling in America. Fields says that connecting communities with multi-use bike/pedestrian trails should be the end goal, but right now the immediate goal is to make road cycling safer.
“As a cyclist, I have ridden all over, and this is a great place to ride,” said Fields. “We just need to be seen, we need to let motorists know we are there.”
Fields proposed and received support for adding “Share the Road” signs along KY 321, and the Jenny Wiley Lake Road, as well as other routes in the future. The hope is to eventually make these routes “Official Bike Routes” to be marketed to cyclists around the world.
Cycling has experienced tremendous growth as both hobby and sport in America. According to Bicycling Magazine, from 1872-2011 there were 62 protected lanes built in American cities. In 2011-2012 alone there were 40 protected lanes created. Federal funding for cycling projects increased from $22 million in 1992 to $1.5 billion in 2008.
Fields has also been working with Jenny Wiley State Resort Park to begin opening more trails to Mountain Biking at the park.
During the Thursday’s meeting, Fields was nominated to be the chairperson of a subcommittee on Bicycling/Pedestrian Issues. Members from the Big Sandy Region were selected from each county including: Beau Spurlock, Randy Risner, Robert Miller, Paul Baker, and Chris Smith.
Jason Blackburn with the Kentucky Transportation cabinet – District 10, said that incorporating bicycling/pedestrian signage was something that could be accomplished quickly. The incorporation of bike and pedestrian paths into Transportation Cabinet designs is something relatively new in Eastern Kentucky, but has been implemented in other parts of the state.
Blackburn presented an artist rendering of the proposed Mountain Parkway expansion in Salyersville, which included a multi-use bicycle/pedestrian pathway which Blackburn says tied into the Dawkins Trail, further down the road.
The BSADD has been a driving force in the region for Adventure Tourism, pushing projects such as the Dawkins Trail and the Big Sandy Water trail.
“We are getting pretty excited,” said Sandy Runyon, Executive Director of BSADD, “I think it’s a really good idea they do this. We see it as a quality of life issue.”
Prestonsburg has also entered into the beginning stages of several other health conscience projects including a proposed multi-million dollar community center with early discussions centering around a indoor fitness center, swimming pool, and basketball courts.
With increases in cycling visibility in road and mountain bike trails, Prestonsburg is primed to continue its growth into an Adventure Tourism Destination!