Keith Martin sees a problem in Liberty County.
The avid cyclist and fitness enthusiast loves riding his bike throughout the area, but he would like to see more bike lanes installed so he and his fellow riders can enjoy more safely the county’s natural beauty.
That’s why he’s petitioning the Georgia Department of Transportation to add bike lanes to the design plans for Airport Road, which is being prepared for widening.
Martin said he spoke with GDOT personnel who are working on the project. He said they told him that they still are in the tree-clearing process, and that he still may have a window of time to get the plans amended to include a bike lane — but he would need to act fast.
Martin also said he talked to Hinesville Mayor Jim Thomas, who told him his best course of action would be to get a petition together to send to GDOT. He said he would need a minimum of 100 signatures, but the more, the better.
Martin’s vision for better bike-ways in Liberty County is not limited to Airport Road and 15th Street, though. He spoke of other areas that are ripe for bike lanes, including Veteran’s Parkway, Oglethorpe Highway and James Brown Park.
“That could be for families … right now, you can’t bike on the running trail,” he said of the park. “If we had a trail out there for bikes to ride, then people would bring their bikes and their kids out there.”
Martin sees great potential for the growing bicycle community in Liberty. He started a Facebook page, PedalLiberty4Life, which he hopes will become a forum for local cyclers.
Aside from the obvious health benefits, Martin said his cycling habit enables him to spend more quality time with his family. He said he and his son, a student at Bradwell Institute, bike together every morning from their home off of Palm Drive.
Martin said it takes him and his son about 12 minutes to get from their residence to Bradwell — a trip that would easily take 45 minutes to an hour if his son rode the school bus, he said. After seeing his son off to school, Martin then continues down Highway 84 to his job at CenturyLink.
Thomas said he supports the idea and would like to see bike paths included in the city’s plans.
“If we can get enough support with city council, we would include these bike paths in the already-prioritized list of projects we’ve got to do in the city,” he said, noting that sidewalks suitable for bicycles already have been installed in some city areas.
“When we built the sidewalks on Memorial Drive, they’re wide enough so that people who ride bikes can ride on those sidewalks,” Thomas continued. “And we hope to expand that further into the city as we go along.”
The mayor is not the only voice of support from the community. County engineer Trent Long said he fully backs the idea and will do whatever he can to help potential bike-path projects come to fruition.
“I’ve never really sat down to study what areas would be great for biking, but I’m all in favor of having bike trails or different things that are designated paths so people can get out and enjoy our area,” he said. “We just need to put them in areas that are smart, and areas that are attractive for people to come to and ride.”
Martin also views bicycling as a way to increase community connectivity and spark relationships.
“If they put a bike path all the way down (15th Street), then soldiers could ride their bikes to Fort Stewart that way, and families in those neighborhoods could ride up into town,” he said. “It would just connect Hinesville all the way around, for runners and bikers on every corner of what we call our community and town here, which includes Walthourville, Allenhurst and the edge of Fort Stewart.”
Those interested in signing the petition to have a bike lane installed on Airport Road can call Martin at 912-271-5417.