City of Aiken gets grant to fund bike infrastructure, holding public hearing

AIKEN, S.C. (WJBF) – Cyclists and motorists could soon be sharing more Aiken roads.

The city was awarded a Federal Transportation Alternative grant to fund bicycle infrastructure.

Members of the Aiken Bike Club feel the grant is a great opportunity, for city leaders, to make huge economic gains by making their town cyclist-friendly.

Tom Lex bikes nearly 12,000 miles a year and has peddled his way through all 50 states.

However, he says his hometown is not as up to par for bicyclists, as it could be.

“We really don’t have any current bike lanes,” the Chairman of the Aiken County Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee said. “What we are trying to do right now is to get share the road, called sharrows, on Hampton Ave., going from Vaucluse [Road] to York [Street] and then from York [Street] to Camellia [Street]. There’s room to put bike lanes.”

More of road-share signs and bike routes signage could start popping up in Aiken, if the planning commission approves a federal grant totaling $81,522 dollars for bike infrastructure.

In addition to the new signs, $20,381 dollars from Capital Project Sales Tax could go to installing bikes lanes on Hampton Ave. from Camellia St. to York St.

Lex says transforming Aiken into a bike-friendly city falls in line with other revitalization projects happening in the area.

“It really has an advantage to the city,” Lex told WJBF NewsChannel 6. “It has economic advantages, it has environmental advantages, it has health benefits too.”

“Biking is a very healthy thing and we could be promoting the progressive part of our community, to embrace things that promote health.” Phill Yarborough, a member of the Aiken Bike Club, told WJBF NewsChannel 6.

Yarborough says Aiken is a hub for international visitors.

So, just like the community embraces its horse heritage, cyclists say it should expand opportunities for people who chose to bike instead of drive and those who just bike for fun.

“So there’s a lot people who want to enjoy that sport,” said Yarborough. “I think Aiken has the opportunity to step-up, do the right thing and make it safe for those who want to participate.”

The Public Hearing for the bicycle infrastructure project is Tues., May 9, at 6 p.m. in the Aiken City Council Chambers.

Count on WJBF NewsChannel 6 to bring you the latest on this developing story. 

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