Joined: 09 Sep 2005
|Posted: Mon Mar 13, 2006 10:17 pm Post subject: 3.5 mi for bike improvements in L'ville, C-J article
|$3.5million to smooth way for bicyclists Improvements, new trails ahead
Ask any cyclist -- Louisville has never been a friendly town to those traveling on two wheels.
Busy intersections, careless motorists and an absence of bike lanes can turn cycling into a contact sport.
"There are many different ways you could get hit," said recreational biker Harvey Diamond, who says intersections such as Lexington Road and Grinstead Drive are particularly precarious because "there is really no rhyme or reason" to how they function.
In an effort to make the community more biker-friendly, Louisville metro government is spending nearly $3.5 million this year on cycling projects, including bike trails.
That's far more than Mayor Jerry Abramson's administration has ever spent on cycling initiatives in one year, and it fits hand in glove with his push to help transform Louisville from fat city to fit city.
"These projects will benefit our residents who look for engaging outdoor activities, and they will result in a healthier city," Abramson said.
The 2006 projects -- all of which were recommended at a city Bicycle Summit last year -- include new bike lanes circling much of Bowman Field, an eight-mile extension of the bike trail in southwest Louisville and changes for the Lexington/Grinstead intersection, where a cyclist was killed in 2003.
The federal government will pick up 80 percent of the $3.5 million, with metro Louisville paying the rest.
The city has long-term plans for a 100-mile greenway with bike and walking paths around Jefferson County's edges, as part of the City of Parks program. And a $400,000 study is under way to explore a trail and bikeway system to connect the Olmsted parks, Metro Parks Director Mike Heitz said.
Local cyclists such as Bob Beaven of Louisville and Gina Peoples of New Albany, Ind., say the planned improvements are important.
Peoples said she frequently crosses the Clark Memorial Bridge to use Louisville's RiverWalk, riding down to Portland and back.
Beaven, who tries to ride several times a week and almost always uses the bikeways, said he was hit by a car several years ago while riding on a street. More paths will help avoid motorists that he says "aren't really watchful for bikers."
The projects approved for 2006 include:
$2.4 million to build eight miles of bike path connecting the Levee Trail from near Greenwood Road to the RiverWalk in Shawnee Park. The project will begin this spring and be completed around year's end, said Mohammad Nouri, the metro assistant director of transportation services.
Renee Butterworth, who works at Riverside, the Farnsley-Moremen Landing, said she walks the existing southern end of the Levee Trail at least twice a week. "It's relaxing and quiet," she said. "You see lots of families, moms and dads with their kids on bikes."
$750,000 to improve the Lexington/Grinstead intersection to help bikers cross between Cherokee Park and the Beargrass Creek trail.
The plan calls for slightly narrowing the traffic lanes and extending the curbs to create "bike zones" where cyclists can safely wait to cross. New bike lanes along both sides of Lexington from Grinstead to near the entrance to Cherokee Park will be marked, and intersection crosswalks will be redesigned.
The work is expected to start this summer and be completed by late fall, Nouri said.
$250,000 for new bike lanes on Cannons Lane, Dutchmans Lane and Taylorsville Road near Bowman Field. The work should begin this summer and be completed by late fall.
A. B. Sandefur, a 71-year-old member of the Louisville Bicycle Club who rode 6,400 miles last year, said the club uses Cannons Lane to introduce new riders to traffic. Yet, "using Cannons can be a little shaky, especially with so many cars coming off I-64," he said.
$25,000 to add bike lanes on Main Street between Story Avenue and Second Street, and on Market Street between Ninth and 22nd streets and between First Street and the Home of the Innocents. The work should start in May and be done by late June.
Abramson said he also is working with Southern Indiana officials on a plan for a nine-mile biking and walking loop that would use both the Big Four and the K&I bridges.
Waterfront Park already has a walking/biking promenade along the river that gets ample use. Waterfront agency president David Karem said such paths "are a major amenity that people really want and expect, whether for physical fitness or just for pleasure."
By Sheldon S. Shafer, he can be reached at (502) 582-7089.
Posted by Dixie Moore, Secretary KRTC