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Key West Challenged To Share The Road

Nancy Klingener
Riding bikes is popular in Key West — but it can also be dangerous. A new grant is aimed at helping island residents and tourists learn to share the road.";

Key West has one of the nation's highest rates of commuting by bicycle. But it also regularly leads the state in bicycle and pedestrian fatalities for small cities.

Now the island has embarked on a new effort to make cycling and walking safer, as well as encourage the use of public transit. Those efforts were bolstered Friday with the award of Bike Florida's first-ever Share The Road Challenge Grant.

"It's important for Key West to promote bicycling and walking, and to do so safely," said Chris Hamilton, the city's new bicycle-pedestrian coordinator, "because it's good for our prosperity."

Hamilton joined the city in January and launched Bike/Walk Key West. The new grant will help that effort, he said.

"We have no materials, and one of the things we want to do is educate people that live, work and visit here, how to share the road safely and that biking, walking and public transit are good options to get around," he said.

Hamilton said he plans to create a bike map for the island and an outreach program for the business community.

"As people who live, work and play here, we share our streets. It's a community asset," Hamilton said. "Whether you are on your feet, you're on a bike or you're behind the wheel, we just all have to learn to respect one another, follow the road rules and share the streets."

Nancy Klingener covers the Florida Keys for WLRN. Since moving to South Florida in 1989, she has worked for the Miami Herald, Solares Hill newspaper and the Monroe County Public Library.