Tips to begin biking, cycling safely in Lexington, Kentucky

Have you ever found yourself stuck in a Lexington traffic jam, only to see a fit-looking cyclist zip through the congestion carefree?

If you’ve longed to join Lexington’s community of cyclists, but have felt daunted by sinking hundreds of dollars into a bicycle purchase, we’ve got you covered.

We asked James Gonyer and Adam Drye, the co-owners of Broomwagon Bikes + Cafe in Lexington, for their advice.

Below are answers to some top local cycling questions, as well as some tips to connect with bicycling groups and some spots to try out.

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Broomwagon is located at 800 North Limestone in Lexington, Ky., Thursday, June 25, 2020. Broomwagon offers a selection of vegan and vegetarian meals, coffee, beer and has a full service bike shop. Alex Slitz aslitz@herald-leader.com

What advice do you have for buying a bike?

“The question ‘What type of riding do you see yourself doing’ is the thing to meditate on,” Drye wrote in an email.

“More specifically: ‘Where are you going to be riding?’ ‘What type of terrain? ie, Smooth pavement? Hills?’ ‘How often are you going to be riding?’ ‘Do you need to carry cargo?’ ‘Are you more concerned with comfort, efficiency, or speed?’ and, of course, ‘What can you afford to spend?’ … Some people have half a dozen bikes that are dedicated to each type of riding they do and each bike might be for a different answer to those questions.

“The important thing is not letting external ideas tell you what bike is right for you, your own personality, lifestyle and budget should decide the right bike for you…

“Lastly, there are an infinite array of options online and at department stores offering deceptively cheap options, and if you know what is right for you that’s cool, whatever gets you riding. But I strongly recommend going to your local bike shop and taking as many test-rides as you can while talking to a human being that has made bikes their living. The right bike will just feel right. … Have a conversation with a professional before spending more money than you can afford to throw away.”

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Riders run come up over Crumbaugh road as about 2000 riders cycled the roads of Central Kentucky as the Bluegrass Cycling Club held the 34th Annual Horsey Hundred photographed on Sunday May 29, 2011 in Georgetown, Ky. Photo by Mark Cornelison | Staff Mark Cornelison Staff file photo

What tips do you have for riding safely in and around Lexington, especially in traffic?

According to Drye, the most important thing to keep in mind is to “assume you’re invisible until you have made eye-contact with the drivers!”

“The best skill to practice is to be able to ride in a straight line while looking behind you to make eye contact with a driver,” he advised.

Drye supplied these other safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Don’t assume drivers know the 3-foot passing law or that they check their rear-view mirrors before turning.
  • “Right hooks” at intersections are the most frequent vehicle vs. bike collision spots. Avoid them by taking the lane at intersections.
  • Wear a helmet, keep your tires inflated and inspect your bike regularly.
  • Plan your route. Don’t rely on your GPS app. Be prepared to improvise your route if you need to.
  • Familiarize yourself with the city’s official bike map, which can be found at imaginelexington.com/bike-lexington-map.

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James Gonyer is one of the bike mechanics on hand at Broomwagon on N.Limestone that will be a Beer/Coffee/Bike shop photographed on Tuesday July 21, 2015 in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Mark Cornelison | Staff Herald-Leader

How can new cyclists find groups to ride with?

“The Bluegrass Cycling Club organizes daily group road rides and the Kentucky Mountain Biking Association helps maintain the mountain bike trails and organizes routine social events and trail work days,” Drye said in his email.

“Also there’s Social Cycling Lexington which organizes relaxed, family-friendly urban social rides downtown to help new riders meet other riders and there are other informal groups for almost every discipline of riding, from bike polo, bike packing, gravel riding, urban canine bikejoring and a #bikelife BMX Wheelie crew.

“A lot of those groups are only organized as Facebook groups, but our mission as a business is to serve as a hub for folks in those cycling communities to connect with others [in real life], So we encourage new and aspiring riders to come down and just talk to us so we can connect them with like-minded communities,” he said.

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Stella Kapoor of Lexington rides her bicycle along the Legacy Trail near sunset in Lexington, Ky., on Monday, May 30, 2022. Ryan C. Hermens rhermens@herald-leader.com

Bike paths and trails to check out near Lexington, KY

The Legacy Trail comes highly recommended. This 12-mile trail begins at the Isaac Murphy Memorial Garden and runs north to the Kentucky Horse Park.

Biking bourbon lovers can also try cycling the Kentucky Bourbon Trail if they’re looking for more of a challenge.

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The Dawkins Line Rail Trail passes through Magoffin County, Ky. The 36-mile trail is the largest rail-to-trail in the state. Monday, May 30, 2022 Ryan C. Hermens rhermens@herald-leader.com

The Dawkins Line Rail Trail in eastern Kentucky is another great option with 35 miles that can be biked.

More information is available at visitlex.com/guides/post/biking/, and there’s also an interactive map of routes developed by local cyclists.

Do you have a question about recreation for our service journalism team? We’d like to hear from you. Fill out the form below of email ask@herald-leader.com.

Aaron Mudd is a service journalism reporter with the Lexington Herald-Leader. He previously worked for the Bowling Green Daily News covering K-12 and higher education. Aaron has roots in Fayette, Marion and Warren Counties.

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