More two-wheeled travelers may soon be coming to Warren County and southcentral Kentucky.
A plan to bring the proposed U.S. Bicycle Route 23 through Warren County and other parts of the region is picking up momentum. A resolution approving some rural Warren County roads as part of the route was passed by Warren County Fiscal Court at its March 23 meeting, and leaders of the local Cave Country Trails group are working to get similar approvals from other counties.
The Adventure Cycling Association has approved a bicycle route corridor through Kentucky from the LaRue County intersection with the existing Transamerica Trail (U.S. Bicycle Route 76) southward to connect with the existing Route 23 in Tennessee, which was approved in 2013.
“You have a bike route in Tennessee that’s heavily used by locals and tourists,” explained Eddie Bruner, president of Cave Country Trails. “Route 76 coming through Kentucky is used by Ride Across America. This (Route 23) would connect those two.”
The route approved by fiscal court will wind along rural roads from Smiths Grove south to Alvaton, Plano and Woodburn, using a path that many local cyclists already travel. It will utilize such roads as Ky. 240, Ky. 622 and Ky. 961 as it heads into Simpson County.
Helen Siewers, project director for Cave Country Trails, said approving the route simply means some additional signs along those roads that will make them part of a formal route for cyclists.
“The signs will help cyclists and also help motorists be aware that it is a bicycle route,” Siewers said.
Bruner said the Cave Country Trails group is working to get approval for the route from Simpson, LaRue, Barren, Edmonson and Hart counties as well.
“More groups like ours are pushing for this,” said Bruner, who said the Route 23 effort can help make Kentucky more bicycle-friendly and potentially increase tourism. “The cost should be minimal to taxpayers.”
Bruner said Kentucky typically is among the worst bicycle-friendly states in rankings compiled by the National League of Cyclists. He said legislation passed by the Kentucky General Assembly this year requiring motorists to give at least 3 feet of clearance when overtaking a cyclist or other slow-moving vehicle is a step in the right direction.
“We’re seeking some grant funding for the signage,” Bruner said. “It will cost hundreds of dollars to put the signs up. We’re trying to keep the cost off the counties as much as possible.”
Because of the minimal cost, Bruner expects Route 23 to pick up support quickly.
“It’s a neat, low-cost idea,” he said. “If we get all the counties on board, we can get it done within a year.”