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Where Are Louisville's Most Dangerous Railroad Crossings For Bikes? Survey Seeks Answers.


Louisville cycling advocates are working to identify railroad crossings in the city that are dangerous to cross on a bicycle.

Chris Glasser, president of Bicycling For Louisville, developed a basic survey that asks residents which railroad crossings are the most troubling for cyclists to cross, and which crossings are considered "model" crossings.

The survey is available here. Responses will be accepted for the next couple of weeks.

To date, Glasser said more than 100 people have provided feedback.

Here is a map showing which crossings in Jefferson County respondents consider to be the most dangerous. (Map provided by Bicycling For Louisville.)

[googlemaps https://www.google.com/maps/d/embed?mid=zUlYHMn9F7BY.kytR6ta4b1-M&w=640&h=480]
Glasser said the crossing at River Road near Edith Avenue is overwhelmingly considered the most dangerous in the city. Nearly 60 percent of responses so far mention that crossing, Glasser said.

Other notable crossings considered dangerous by respondents include a crossing of Algonquin Parkway near Gibson Lane and St. Matthews Avenue near Westport Road.

The crossing at Frankfort Avenue near New Main Street is "by far the most commonly cited as the one with the best infrastructure in place to make for a safe crossing" in the feedback provided so far, Glasser said. But other residents also wrote that they consider the same crossing to be dangerous for cyclists.

He said the paving, bike lanes and directional arrows at the Frankfort Avenue crossing make it a model crossing, despite it not being a perpendicular crossing angle.

The Federal Highway Administration recommends a 90-degree crossing angle as "ideal."

"The more the crossing deviates from the ideal 90-degree crossing, the greater the potential for a cycle wheel to be trapped" in the the gap between the rail and the pavement, the FHWA states in its Railroad-Highway Grade Crossing handbook.

The premise of the survey goes beyond simply identifying potentially dangerous railroad crossings, Glasser said.

"We want to, first, make public works aware of these problems," Glasser said.

Beyond that, Glasser said he hopes to work with city and state officials, as well as the railroad companies, to build a partnership that works to effectively improves crossings across the city.

Louisville boasts 198 grade-level railroad crossings, according to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. A grade-level crossing is one which vehicles, bikes and pedestrians must traverse to cross, rather than an underpass or bridge.

State and local crews are responsible for pavement on the outer sides of railroad crossings, said Andrea Clifford, a spokeswoman for the state's transportation cabinet 5th District, which includes Louisville.

Between the rails, she said, is left up to the railroad companies.

"The crossing, itself, is maintained by the railroad company," she said.

Crossing approaches, which are under the purview of state and local paving authorities, are commonly resurfaced when they fall along a route scheduled for fresh pavement.

Only if an approach shows "severe deterioration" would crews perform a specific repair without resurfacing the entire route, Clifford said.

Jacob Ryan joined LPM in 2014. Ryan is originally from Eddyville, Kentucky. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.