By Christina Calloway
PNT senior writer
Eastern New Mexico University librarian Heather Christensen says she rides her bike to and from work every day from her home about four miles outside of the city limits.
Christensen's fellow librarian Gene Bundy has been struck three times by a vehicle while riding his bicycle in Portales which has pushed him to bring awareness of about bicyclists and their safety.
Bundy, Christensen and other bicyclists are now asking city officials to consider adding more bicycle lanes and routes throughout the city for the safety of the bicycling public.
At a meeting held a few years ago regarding the current U.S. 70 construction project, the Eastern New Mexico University librarian had voiced his concerns for bicycle safety, suggesting they add a bicycle lane on the highway.
The idea was rejected due to inadequate space on the highway, according to New Mexico Department of Transportation U.S. 70 project manager Pat Garcia.
"It would be really nice if they gave us bike lanes through the town," Bundy said. "I know ENMU students that ride bikes to Wal-Mart and it's dangerous."
Bundy and city officials have made note that there is bike route that begins on University to Third Street available to bicyclists, but Bundy said that one route is not enough.
"It's not too bad if you don't mind going through dips and hitting a stop sign every block once you get to Avenue C," Bundy said sarcastically.
Christensen too hopes that city officials will reach some sort of solution to their bicycling problems.
"I hope they put in real bike lanes for bicycles, not just the shoulders of the road," Christensen said.
City manager Tom Howell said there have been few complaints about bicycling issues in the past but says he doesn't mind looking at solution for bicyclists.
"I guess we could look at it again but there has to be more of demand for (bike lanes)," Howell said.
Garcia said the original bike lane sought out on U.S. 70 was not feasible because of the parking situation and existing width of the highway. Safety is also a factor according to Garcia.
Local musician Andy Mason says he doesn't believe bicyclists are considered before construction takes place.
Mason would love if more bicycle lanes were added but he says it's wishful thinking.
"There's not really a lot (city officials) can do," said Mason, who rides at least 10 to 15 miles a day. "I don't expect that there will ever be actual bike lanes so I'd just like to remind the people that that are people on bikes."
Mason also noted that loose dogs that chase after him while riding has been a big safety issue for him and other riders.