Hello, 2018! As we move into the new year, we wanted to look back on the past year and share with you some of our biggest advocacy victories.
Without a doubt, the most substantial projects we had a hand in this year were three road diets:
In each case, a four lane road was trimmed to three, adding a middle turning lane and buffered bike lanes on the sides. Road diets are great for traffic calming and for improving safety for all road users — drivers, bikers, and pedestrians — and each of these projects is a nice step forward in the city’s efforts to implement better “complete street” road design.
Despite the similarities in the projects, our advocacy efforts for each were very different. We began pushing for the Lexington Rd project in 2013, along with a number of other groups, and nearly four years later (after countless public meetings, delays, and internal debates within Metro), the project finally hit the road this fall.
Compare that to the Hill St project near UofL. We presented the idea to Public Works this past February, public meetings were held in March, and by April it was on the road. (Unbelievable!)
The effort behind the Jefferson project lies somewhere in between. We proposed the redesign in 2015 and watched as it steadily, over the next 18 months, made its way through the design phase, public meetings, and then finally to the top of a list of projects for the city to implement.
It’s great to see each of these projects hit the road now — whether they took months or years to find their way there. Big shouts and thank you’s to Metro Public Works (particularly Rolf Eisinger at Bike Louisville) for the project management, to the teams at Gresham, Smith & Partners and Qk4 for their design work, and to Mayor Greg Fischer for the budgetary funding. They’re the folks who made these projects possible.
This year, the city made its strongest progress yet on its “neighborway” program — an interconnected network of low-volume, low-speed streets that are naturally friendly for bikers. We first proposed the neighborway network — which is modeled after the bike boulevards in Portland, Oregon — in 2013 and have been happy to see its steady growth over the last four years.
While adding “sharrows” to a roadway and declaring it a “neighborway” is a modest step, looking forward, we hope to see these and other neighborways augmented with more traffic calming and volume management, to make them even safer for bikers. (Check out the NACTO guide for bike boulevards for some great ideas on what this could look like.)
We took some L’s this year as well, for sure. Probably too many to list.
Most disappointing, though, comes from the same Lexington Rd road diet we mentioned above. When we first started our advocacy efforts, we proposed a two-way protected bike lane (aka a cycletrack), and after the initial public meetings, this was listed as the preferred option in the project proposal.
With modest traffic counts and essentially no turning movement in either direction along this corridor, as well as prime access to Cherokee Park one one end and to Clifton and the Highlands on the other, the city had an opportunity to create a truly world-class bike facility that could serve cyclists age 8 to 80. Similar designs to what we advocated for have gone in across the country, as protected bike lanes become the norm and officials recognize, in order for biking to take off, it needs to feel as safe and simple as walking on the sidewalk. In short, facilities must appeal to all age groups and experience levels, not just the grizzled commuter vets and the Lycra crowd.
Examples abound of how top-notch facilities attract riders — and not just in the New York City’s and Portland’s of the world. One need only look at the success of the Parklands or the Big Four Bridge to see the way world-class bike/ped facilities can attract both ridership and economic development — to say nothing of promoting healthy lifestyles.
With that in mind, in the days ahead, we’ll be putting out a wish list for 2018 (and the years ahead) — starting small and working up. We hope you’ll check back in.