While there is little doubt that revenue generated by Kentucky’s new “Share the Road” license plate will benefit cyclists in all 120 counties, it is the fingerprints of natives of this corner of the commonwealth that can be found all over the state’s latest specialty license plate issued to benefit a specific cause or entity.

It is a certainty that the new plate would not exist without the efforts of Ashland native Alison Smith, who now lives in Lexington. Smith launched Kentucky’s “Share the Road” campaign two years ago as a tribute to her husband, an avid cyclist. In the fall of 2005, Smith and several other cycling and running enthusiasts — including Ashland attorney and former State Rep. Charles Holbrook — organized the 900 people necessary to apply for a specialty license plate in Kentucky. That being done, they needed a design for the plate.

Enter Erin Back, a Russell native who now lives in Lexington. A graphic designer, she volunteered her time to design the plate. Originally, Back included two cyclists on the plate, but when orders for the plate lagged below the number needed for the state to issue it, a runner was added. That did the trick by encouraging avid runners to join the cause. It was also fitting. After all, motorists need to learn to better share the road with runners and walkers as well as cyclists.

By promoting the plate by word-of-mouth, through local running and cycling clubs, at bike and running stores and on a Web site where vehicle owners could apply for and pay for the plate through Pay Pal, sales took off. Today, more than 5,000 Kentucky vehicles have the $25 “Share the Road” plates, which has generated nearly $3,000 in revenue for the Kentucky Bicycle and Bike Way Commission. That’s money that will help the KBBWC promote road safety involving cyclists, runners and pedestrians and work for the development of more bike paths in Kentucky, including the nationwide rails-to-trails effort.

Our own, completely unscientific observation as occasional cyclists, walkers and runners is that too many motorists do not respect the rights of those moving at a much slower rate than they are and do not always use the best judgment when approaching cyclists or runners. While we don’t promise to buy a “Share the Road” license plate we do share the goals of what those who purchase the plate hope to achieve.

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