CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Biking advocates took to the streets of Charleston on Sunday to raise awareness for everyone who shares West Virginia's country roads.
West Virginia Connecting Communities and the Mountain State Wheelers Bicycle Club held a Legislative Bike Ride Sunday afternoon. The event, geared toward promoting alternative modes of transportation and encouraging more safety laws for cyclists and pedestrians, began at the state Capitol Complex and included citizens, club members and a few state legislators.
Kasey Russell, a member of the Charleston City Council and WVCC, said the initiative is designed to highlight the advantages of biking and promote clearer legislation surrounding road safety for cyclists.
"Across the country, cycling and walking issues often have a lot of attention and resources put to them, and communities really look to make themselves biking friendly and walking friendly," Russell said. "In West Virginia, we're a little behind the times, it seems. We have an overweight population, and we aren't doing things in a biking friendly, walking friendly way all the time, so we hope to introduce some new bills to help change that."
WVCC's legislative goals include adding a passing rule to state code, which would require motorists to pass cyclists at a reduced speed and no closer than 4 feet from a cyclist. Russell said they also hope to strike the "ride to the right" language from state code to avoid confusion for cyclists and motorists and improve safety.
"We want to focus on safety, so that cars will have to give space -- perhaps even a whole lane -- to pass a cyclist. It's not necessarily just safety; it's also awareness," she said. "We want to avoid cyclists and pedestrians being hit."
An elderly woman was killed while crossing the street in front of the Capitol Complex on Thursday. Russell said WVCC, which is about a year old, was created to advocate for cyclist and pedestrian safety in order to avoid similar accidents in the future.
Charleston plans to create bicycle lanes along stretches of Kanawha Boulevard -- something Russell hopes might be replicated in other parts of the city.