On Waterfront Park and Why Charging for Parking is Okay

News broke tonight, after weeks of speculation, that the Board of the Waterfront Development Corporation (WDC) approved a plan to charge $3 for parking at Waterfront Park five days per week (Wednesday – Sunday).

Despite the 6-3 vote by the board, it seems nearly everyone in the public sphere opposes this change — Mayor Fischer, Metro Council (Bill Hollander and Barbara Sexton-Smith, in particular), and “hundreds” of Louisvillians, according to an Insider Louisville article leading up to the vote.

Fischer wrote a letter to the WDC Board Tuesday saying, “This park is our community living room, a gathering place for all Louisvillians. I do not support creating an unnecessary impediment to access.” Hollander, probably the most outspoken critic of the plan, tweeted, “[Waterfront Park] should be accessible to everyone, every day – not just Monday & Tuesday.”

In the hours since the news has come out, both Hollander and Sexton-Smith have issued statements of disapproval. Sexton-Smith wrote: “This is disgraceful. … This decision will promote segregation at a time when we must all do everything we can to bring everyone together. … We must not balance the budget on the backs of those who can least afford it. … Keep Our Waterfront Park Free!”

Social media comments echoed/furthered these sentiments. One user referred to the plan as a “money grab,” another said the park’s board should be disbanded, and another suggested legal action against the park.

Considering all this — the nearly universal, bipartisan, community-wide opposition to this plan — we’d like to weigh in with an unpopular, contrary opinion. Here goes:

It’s okay to ask people to pay to park their cars, even at parks. Continue reading “On Waterfront Park and Why Charging for Parking is Okay”

On Branden Klayko and His Website Broken Sidewalk, Which was Unlike Anything Else

First off, the site was terrific, one of a kind — certainly within Louisville, but also nationally.

Broken Sidewalk was always a smart read, but in a way that was accessible. Branden’s writing was thorough, intelligent, fair, confident. It was occasionally light-hearted (as in this 2010 story about Slugger Field’s history as a potato shipping ground), always well-researched. It oozed cautious optimism, maybe a little wariness.

We were lucky to have it as part of our city and community conversation. National blogs would regularly pick up Branden’s writings. When Bicycling magazine rated Louisville a Top 50 bike-friendly city in the US in 2016, it listed Broken Sidewalk as a reason and summed up the genius of BS in three tidy sentences:

Louisville’s Broken Sidewalk blog is perhaps the nation’s best local outlet chronicling a city’s urban transformation. The site’s clean design and enlightening content regularly features posts from some of the country’s top thinkers on utilitarian cycling. Every city that wants to improve biking needs an online publication this good.

Branden’s editorial decisions were the most interesting part of the site. Things you wouldn’t see covered anywhere else, he would discuss in detail. When the city’s bike/ped department started its “Look Alive Louisville” campaign, for example, he wrote a multi-part series on pedestrian safety in the city. When LMPD started handing out warning tickets to children jaywalking and teaching them to “walk defensively”, Branden published this article that laid out a list of reasons why this was an incredibly bad idea: Continue reading “On Branden Klayko and His Website Broken Sidewalk, Which was Unlike Anything Else”

#AdvocacyIdea: A Walkable Winter

Exciting news for the Portland and Russell neighborhoods, courtesy of Louisville Metro Public Works:

Public Works’ description of roadwork planned for W Market St later this summer

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 would love to work with Louisville Grows and/or Louisville MSD, as well as Metro Council and Louisville Metro Public Works to see this corridor enhanced.

Winter Ave at Rubel Ave

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.

One-way street pairs that are maintained by Metro Government

Neighborway Project Continues Progress in Urban Neighborhoods

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.)

Edward St in the Highlands

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.

W Kentucky St in the California neighborhood

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.