We’d love to see something similar on the Oak/Winter corridor that connects the Highlands to Germantown. This area could be incredibly walkable, considering the residential density and proximity to the Baxter/Bardstown commercial corridor. Unfortunately, due to the narrow sidewalks, parking restrictions induce speeding, and lack of tree canopy, this short stretch shuns would-be pedestrians. Tree-lined sidewalks buffered by a row of parked cars are great for walkability along busy streets — just check out what they’ve done for Cherokee Rd.
We’d also love to see this kind of investment (say, $800k/year) for two-way street conversions. Our downtown and urban neighborhoods are beleaguered by an antiquated one-way street network. With modest, dedicated funding for this problem, we could have the one-way network flipped in a decade.
This spring in the urban neighborhoods across Louisville, roads are being painted with sharrows. This work is part of the continued and steady progress of a project to build a city-wide network of “neighborways” (see this 2014 report from Broken Sidewalk).
B4L first proposed building the neighborway network back in summer 2013 — which, in terms of the city’s bike infrastructure, was a lifetime ago. At that time, none of the First, Brook, Sixth, Seventh, Breckinridge, Kentucky, Floyd, Ali, or Chestnut street bike lanes existed.
With limited funds available then, B4L worked with Metro Advanced Planning to conceive a neighborway network that could be painted with sharrows using money from a federal CMAQ grant. In the years since, about 50 miles of roadway have been painted as part of the neighborways project, with still more coming later this summer. (You can chart their progress here.)
The sharrows mark these roads as neighborways; however, sharrows do not make a road a neighborway. Ideally, neighborways (aka “bike boulevards”, aka “neighborhood greenways”) are low stress bike routes that are inviting for anybody on a bike. (Jefferson Street downtown, for instance, has sharrows but isn’t a neighborway, due to both traffic volume and speed.)
In a best case scenario, neighborways are roads with low traffic volumes (fewer than 2,000 cars per day) and slow traffic speeds (25mph or less), while also being direct, intuitive routes for riders. Tactics for enhancing neighborways include traffic calming and volume management.
Unfortunately, because Louisville’s street grid is so reliant on arteries (Bardstown Rd, Dixie Highway, etc), there are very few low stress streets that are also direct paths to where people are going. The result is a neighborway network that can feel indirect and roundabout at times– lots of turns, lots of jogs onto and across busy streets. Not ideal.
Still, the neighborways are functional — if you’re looking for a calm ride home, they’re reliable and safe even if they take you a little out of your way. And because they’re well-marked, they’re fairly easy to follow.
We’re curious what you, the folks out riding the streets, think. Do you use the neighborways? Do you find them intuitive? Have you even noticed the sharrows? Let us know in the comments.
This project’s final public meeting is tonight at 6:00pm at Girl Scouts of Kentuckiana (2115 Lexington Rd). Last week, we shared a project plan from the LouisvilleKy.gov website with three striping options for the corridor. Unfortunately, in the time since, our preferred treatment (5-foot bike lanes, 3-foot buffers) has been removed as an option. The only option currently being presented is for 4-foot bike lanes and 2-foot buffers.
Our take: meh. Not bad, but not great. Considering the goals of the project and the city’s stated interest in “complete streets”, it’s somewhat surprising that they’re moving forward with a project for 12-foot driving lanes (which will encourage speeding) and narrow, curb-side bike lanes (which will be inviting only to more experienced cyclists and which will almost definitely get filled with debris).
We encourage you to come out tonight to see Metro’s full proposal, hear their reasoning, and (of course) express your thoughts!
While we’re stoked to see so many bike projects coming onto the road this spring, the curb-side bike lanes continue to be a problem.
(1) Because street sweeping is so irregular, they often fill with debris.
(2) Because parking enforcement is bad, cars are often parked in them.
We’re seeing these problems especially near UofL (Hill Street, 4th Street, Cardinal Boulevard) and encourage you to (politely!) contact the city’s Bike Louisville department to ask for a more regular lane sweeping schedule (say, once a month? every other week?) and for better enforcement of illegal parking in bike lanes.