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    Louisville Recognized as Bicycling-Friendly City
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    Louisville has made Bicycling Magazine’s biennial list of the 50 Best U.S. Cities for Biking again. In the magazine’s October issue, just out on newsstands, Louisville comes in at number 43.

    It’s not the first time this city has made the list, which is compiled from Census data, cycling-friendly infrastructure and budgets, commitment from local governments and future plans for cycling-related projects, data from private cycling organizations and information from local residents about their biking experiences.

    Bicycling’s Editor in Chief, Bill Strickland, is quoted at BicycleRetailer.com, “More and more, the leaders of the cities who appear on our list are understanding what Bicycling has long said: Bikes are accurate and sensitive indicators of an urban area’s vibrancy and livability.”

    A focus on growing civic projects including bike shares and bike lanes protected from traffic, along with a high percentage of cycling commuters, put New York City at number one on the newest list.

    So what’s going on around here that keeps Louisville in the top 50?

    Louisville Metro’s Healthy Hometown Movement, made up of committees of officials and citizens, organizes and sponsors regular events that feature cycling, like Let’s Bike to Work days. The Mayor’s Hike, Bike and Paddle gatherings, held frequently and often on holiday weekends, bring thousands of participants out to bike and otherwise exercise together in public spaces and temporarily protected roadways.

    Another series of Metro organized events, Cyclouvia, are similarly growing in popularity. The next Cyclouvia will close West Broadway between 9th and 26th Streets to vehicular traffic on Sunday, September 7, from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Residents are invited to bike, walk, skate and dance in the temporary “paved linear park,” and experience Louisville in a different, more healthful way.

    And the Louisville Loop which, when completed, will be a 100-mile long paved trail encircling the city, is now about 25 percent complete, according to Louisville Metro. The project is attracting locals and visitors for recreational biking, and will also open up more convenient and safe commuting opportunities across the city, and even into Indiana, once finished.

    Efforts this year to improve street cycling and add dedicated bike lanes to Louisville streets with a $600,000 Metro Council allocation are meeting a rockier reception. Some cyclists and motorists welcome the additions; others have complained that they are unnecessary, that they obstruct drivers, that they are marked in a confusing way, and that they are not maintained and kept clear of debris, which can make them unusable for cyclists, according to a recent Courier-Journal piece. Mayor Greg Fischer and staff have made adjustments as the additional street markings are made, and Fischer reportedly receives 10 times more positive comments than negative ones on the topic.

    Louisville resident and cycling commuter Joe Cuiccio would like to see lane improvements reach the areas where he regularly rides. “Overall, I’m not happy at all with my biking experience,” he says, as no bike lanes are present where he rides almost daily, on Bardstown Road, Hikes Lane and Taylorsville Road.

    Street cycling in Louisville is noticeably improved in general, says local resident and cycling enthusiast Cole Lone, who rides all over the area four to six days per week, schedule permitting. “It’s better than a few years ago, because we don’t have to share the road quite as often,” he says about increasing numbers of dedicated lanes and trails. But he and other cyclists also still put effort into choosing routes that travel through areas with lower speed limits to avoid trouble. He’s had close calls, and worries that distracted drivers, who are often texting, make any improvements less helpful.

    “Louisville is doing well compared to other smaller cities, for its size,” says Lone, who observes that it’s easier for a place like Portland, Maine, to be “bike-friendly.”

    For recreational bicycling, he and cycling friends regularly ride the Louisville Loop, off-road trails near Waverly Park, and parts of the RiverWalk, though he notes that large portions of that trail have been unusable for two to three years, due to mud that has yet to be cleaned up.

    Two unique private cycling-friendly projects will likely bring more attention and recognition to Louisville as a bicycling-friendly city: Louisville Mega Cavern is developing plans for an underground mountain bike park that could be open as soon as next year. The constant, comfortable temperature and vast available space make it ideal for the project, say the owners of the Mega Cavern. And Lone is developing his own plans for a local ski jump attraction for downhill trail bikers. The area he has chosen, he says, is perfect for dirt trails for both beginners and more advanced and daring riders.

    Looks like we should expect Louisville to rise in this ranking very soon.

    Photo: Shutterstock Copyright: lassedesignen

    Kachina Shaw's picture

    About Kachina Shaw

    A transplanted Hawkeye, I've now lived in Louisville longer than any other city. Can't live without: my husband and fur babies, coal-black coffee, peanut M&Ms, sunflowers, monthly vacations, books, walking paths, massage and a big purse.

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