Jessamine County bike commuter found guilty

JESSAMINE CO, Ky. (WKYT) - She rides her bike in traffic on some of central Kentucky's busiest roads. But after a Jessamine County woman was found guilty of putting herself and others in danger, she told WKYT's Garrett Wymer the verdict will not keep her bike off the road.

Police cited Cherokee Schill several times with careless driving and failing to keep to the right on the highway. A judge on Friday convicted Schill, sentencing her to pay a $50 fine for each of the six charges she faced, plus court costs.

Schill disagrees with the verdict.

"I think there was a miscarriage of justice here," she told reporters after the trial adjourned.

According to Kentucky state law, vehicles moving slowly have to stay as far to the right as possible on the highway. Prosecutor Eric Wright says the key word there is "highway." That includes the shoulder - the reason Schill broke the law by riding in traffic on U.S. Route 27, he said.

"If the shoulder is usable, and it's practicable for it to be used and it can be safely used, and you're moving more slowly than other traffic on the highway at the time, you are to get as far to the right as practicable," Wright said.

But Schill said riding on the shoulder would be even more dangerous, because she still would have to drive in traffic at times because of all the rumble strips, potholes and debris littering the shoulder.

Schill maintains she is "operating 110 percent within the law," and that the real violators are cars speeding past her bicycle and disregarding her right-of-way.

Even now that she has been convicted, Schill said she will not change how she rides. She plans to appeal the court's decision, she said.

ORIGINAL STORY:

A bike commuter in Jessamine County was found guilty on six charges after a Friday trial.

WKYT first told you about Cherokee Schill earlier this year.

The Nicholasville woman commutes daily from her home to her work in Lexington by bicycle. It's an 18 mile trip.

Schill is on trial on Friday in Jessamine District Court after being cited three times for careless driving. She says she is not breaking the law.

The judge is expected to make a decision on Friday evening. The defense attorney presented their case around 2:00 p.m.

One witness was Tom Armstrong, a cycling instructor from Louisville. He discussed the dangers of riding on the shoulder of the road. Prosecutors argue that the state law requires her to ride on the shoulder of the road because she's a slow moving vehicle.

Prosecutors say that Schill riding in the slow lane of US 27 presented a danger to herself and drivers. She was ticketed three times.

Schill took the stand around 4:00 p.m. on Friday. She began crying when she was asked about her daily commute. She says she didn't want to be in anyone's way, but that riding on the shoulder is too dangerous.

She also says Kentucky law classifies her bike as a vehicle giving her the same rights as anyone driving a car. Prosecutors said her riding on the road led to a backup of vehicles and was dangerous. They also said state law requires slow moving vehicles to move as far to the right as they can, so she should be riding on the shoulder.

The Judge ruled that the cyclist is guilty on six charges. There are three careless driving offenses and three other traffic offenses. There is a $50 fine for each and she will have one year to pay it off.

The Judge has encouraged her to be careful and not put herself in danger.



 
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