HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Bicycle riders in one part of our region are rejoicing.
The city of Huntington striped its first bike lanes Wednesday, providing a protected lane through part of downtown for bicyclists to ride without fear.
These bike paths were years in the making. It all started with the question of how to better link Marshall University and the students there with the downtown business district. The resounding response -- bike lanes.
Eliza Bennett-Hattan and Cameron Knight could be considered bicycle enthusiasts.
“I bike everyday and mostly commute everywhere by bike,” Knight said.
But, when it comes to riding around Huntington, Hattan says she's definitely experienced some challenges.
“I think the toughest thing is I don't ride in the street as much because I'm afraid of the cars, and I don't ride on the sidewalks because they're so bumpy,” Hattan said.
That's why the sounds of striping Huntington's first bicycle lanes could be music to a lot of folks’ ears. The first lanes are going in along 4th Avenue between Marshall University through most of downtown.
“With all of the negative press we've had concerning obesity, this will go a long way,” said Charles Holley, director of Planning and Development in Huntington.
He says these new bike lanes are just the beginning of many more that will tie into the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health (PATH) that's connecting the city.
“The entire area is 62 miles connecting the entire city limits of Huntington, so you should literally be able to come out of the house and ride to the path,” Holley said.
Jeff Joy is easily the most well-known cyclist in town. As the owner of Jeff's Bike Shop, he’s also helped spearhead and support a growing love of cycling through events and awareness. He's encouraged by these first bike lanes.
“It gives an awareness to drivers and motorists that there's other people out on the road and makes cyclists feel safer,” said Jeff.
As the first to ride the new lanes, Hattan and Knight couldn't agree more.
“I'm really excited about it," Hattan said. "It makes me feel like there's more support for biking, and maybe more people will bike and less people will drive cars."
The new bike paths on 4th Avenue will mean eliminating one lane of traffic, but a traffic study along the route indicates that change will not interrupt traffic flow.
A lane was already eliminated about a year ago from the part of 4th Avenue in front of the Keith Albee Theater as a test, and things have flowed smoothly.