Monday March 5, 2007
Bike lanes, road improvements and ‘bike station’ in the works
Mayor asked to keynote Washington DC bicycle conference
In the two years since the Louisville Bicycle Summit and the creation of the Mayor’s Bicycle Task Force, the city has six times more dedicated bike lanes on Louisville roadways and has begun construction on several improvement projects for key intersections, roadways and trails.
There’s more to come, according to Mayor Jerry Abramson, who recently met with the task force to review its two-year report and will outline Louisville’s progress as a keynote speaker at the National Bike Summit in Washington, DC on March 14.
The city’s bicycle priorities for the coming year include creating up to 20 more miles of bike lanes across Louisville, beginning a project to improve bicycle and vehicle traffic flow on River Road, and securing funding to build a downtown “Bike Station.” The station would be an indoor facility where bicycle commuters and downtown visitors could securely park their bikes, shower, and change clothes before walking or riding the bus to their destination.
“We’re ahead of pace in meeting our goals to become as bicycle-friendly we can be,” Abramson said, “and we’re going to maintain an aggressive timetable for these projects, because we know that cycling is important both as a means of transportation and recreation.”
River Road a ‘top priority’ for improvements
Improvements are slated for River Road east of Zorn Avenue to U.S. Hwy. 42, a corridor the Bicycle Task Force has identified as a top priority. The corridor is Louisville’s only state-designated scenic byway and will be a key portion of the 100-mile loop trail under the mayor’s City of Parks plan.
The city has secured $1 million in grants for the project and later this year will begin to design improvements along the seven-mile stretch. Improvements could include a combination of on-road bike lanes and off-road paved paths. It is estimated to be a $5 million to $7 million project completed over the next five years.
The National Scenic Byway Program awarded the most recent grant, $350,000, for the city to collaborate with River Fields to incorporate a corridor-management plan to protect River Road’s scenic, historical, and cultural qualities.
Other improvement projects underway and expected to be completed in the next year include:
- $2.5 million to connect segments of the Levee Trail, an on- and off-road path along the river’s edge from the Farnsley-Moreman Landing to Chickasaw Park. When complete, the 14.5-mile Levee Trail will connect with the 6.5-mile RiverWalk and the 3-mile Upper River Road path to comprise one-quarter of the planned 100-mile City of Parks loop trail;
- $784,000 in intersection improvements at Lexington Rd. and Grinstead Ave; and
- $366,000 to construct the Seneca Loop, new bike paths and lanes on Cannons Ln., Dutchmans Ln. and Taylorsville Rd.
More bike lanes
In addition to bike lanes on city streets, Metro Government partners with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet to add bike lanes, where possible, as part of state road repaving projects. At the time of the Bicycle Summit in February 2005, less than 1.5 miles of Louisville streets had bike lanes. Today, that number has increased six-fold to more than 10 miles.
In addition to the Seneca Loop and Levee Trail projects and yet-to-be-announced state and local repaving projects, bike lanes will be extended this year on Main Street, from Jackson St. to Baxter Ave., extending the Main Street lanes installed last year.
When portions of roads along priority bike routes are not wide enough for a dedicated bike lane, the city will be adding “shared-lane” markings and signage to indicate the continuation of a bike route and to remind motorists that cyclists may be present in the same lane.
Accomplishments and priorities
The Mayor’s Bicycle Task Force reported its other accomplishments and priorities, including:
- Accelerating “Bike Friendly” goals. Last year, the League of American Bicyclists awarded Louisville its bronze-level Bicycle Friendly Community designation, two years ahead of the city’s goal. The Mayor’s Bicycle Task Force now has accelerated its goal to achieve the silver-level designation by next year rather than 2010 as originally projected.
- Expanding free bike-rack program for businesses. Last year, the city provided bike racks to 25 businesses. A University of Louisville artist creates the unique, loop-shaped bike racks, and businesses only pay $100 to cover the installation. Businesses interested in a signature bike rack should contact Bike Louisville at 574-0104 or visit www.LouisvilleKy.gov/BikeLouisville.
- Expanding adult and youth bicycling education. The city contracts with the Louisville Bicycle Club and Bicycling for Louisville to provide free education programs teaching the fundamentals of safe cycling. Attendance has more than tripled in two years from 85 people in 2005 to 295 people last year.
- Continuing “Hike and Bike” events. The Mayor’s Healthy Hometown Hike & Bike events on Memorial Day and Labor Day have consistently grown in attendance. Four events have been held with the most recent, last September, drawing approximately 2,000 people. Events are set for May 28 and September 3 this year.
For bicycling routes, project details, and other information on Louisville’s bicycling initiatives, visit LouisvilleKy.gov and enter keyword “Bike.”