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City Seeking Input For Future Biking Infrastructure

Kentucky Street bike lane in Louisville, Ky., on Tuesday, August 5, 2014. Photo by Eleanor Hasken
Eleanor Hasken
Kentucky Street bike lane in Louisville, Ky., on Tuesday, August 5, 2014. Photo by Eleanor Hasken

The future of Louisville's bicycling infrastructure will be the topic of discussion at a pair of public meetings set for this week.

Louisville Metro planning officials and the group Bicycling For Louisville are hosting the events, each of which will have the same focus: to gauge what residents are looking for in the city's bicycle infrastructure, said Rolf Eisinger, Metro's bicycle and pedestrian coordinator.

Despite a recent surge in new bicycle infrastructure — such as bike lanes — across the city, Eisinger said gaps still exist in the network that can discourage people from taking to the roads on a bicycle.

The meetings and a correlated survey are a chance for residents to identify those gaps and provide suggestions for facilities that will encourage people to bike.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer's initial decision to allocate $300,000 for bicycle infrastructure in 2014 — and his subsequent allocation in the current year — have allowed city planners to tackle what Eisinger calls the "low-hanging fruit" of bike facilities, such as the bicycle lanes along First and Brook streets.

Planners are seeking to invest in paint for bike lanes and delineator posts to differentiate between vehicle travel lanes and bike lanes.

"Now, we're getting into more time-intensive projects with design, they're going to cost a little more, to really fill in those gaps and key connections that the network would really benefit from," Eisinger said.

If residents want more advanced bike infrastructure, Eisinger said they'll need to show support for it. About 3 percent of people who work downtown commute by bike, according to the Louisville Metro Transportation Survey, published in June 2014.

Advancing the city's cycling infrastructure will likely require some boosted funding levels, Eisinger said. If funding levels remain stagnant, he said future infrastructure may not spread over as many miles, but the quality of the facilities could likely be higher.

There is one caveat to growing the city's bike infrastructure with the funds allocated by Fischer, Eisinger added: City planners are using the money to focus solely on city-owned roadways. State-operated roadways — like Broadway in downtown — would require more intensive planning, as well as state approval, he said.

"There are several roads in our downtown area that are state-maintained, and we will be working with the state on better accommodating bicycling and pedestrian activity on those," he said.

The meetings are set for Wednesday at 5 p.m. and Thursday at 11:30 a.m. at the Urban Design Studio at 507 S. Third St. Residents who can't attend the meetings can take this survey on bicycle infrastructure.

Jacob Ryan is the managing editor of the Kentucky Center for Investigative reporting. He's an award-winning investigative reporter who joined LPM in 2014. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.

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