The mission of Louisville, Ky.’s Department of Public Works (Louisville Metro) is to maintain the city’s infrastructure, support initiatives that foster a healthy environment, and improve public services to ensure a higher quality of life for the community. As densities in the city’s urban core continue to rise and more of the populace seek alternative means of transportation, Louisville Metro has recognized the need to connect and expand its current network of bicycle lanes into a cohesive, safe and accessible Urban Bike Network (UBN). The City asked Gresham Smith to help plan and design the UBN’s routes and bike facilities.
With a bike-share program planned for key locations around downtown in 2017, the design for the UBN focused on connecting Louisville’s central business district to nearby neighborhoods and points of interest. The 6th Street corridor is the first major north-south passageway built to the new local bike lane standard developed by the Gresham Smith team. The corridor links downtown to major east-west connections on Kentucky Street and Breckenridge Street that lead to high-density residential neighborhoods like Old Louisville, Smoketown and the Highlands.
An Expedited Work Flow
Plans for the Louisville UBN include routes covering a total of 80-plus miles around the city. We were tasked with selecting and designing routes, collecting relevant transportation data, and managing input from the general public as well as stakeholders such as Louisville Metro, Transit Authority of River City, bicycling advocates Bicycling for Louisville and Louisville Bicycling Club, and the Louisville Downtown Partnership. To expedite delivery and execution on designs, we formulated a streamlined approval process to allow relevant parties to weigh in at different points based on the project’s complexity. Thanks to the improved work flow, we we were able to create constructible plans for a project in about a week.
Setting a New Standard
The 6th Street corridor, which runs nearly 1.5 miles, varies in width, number of lanes and parking arrangements, as the corridor transitions from the city’s commercial center to more residential neighborhoods toward the south. The design team used green paint to highlight zones of potential conflict between cyclists and drivers, and to mark transitions as the street width and number of lanes change. The green paint is part of the new local bike lane standard developed by Gresham Smith with input from the National Association of City Transportation Officials and sister cities around the region.
Investing in the Future
More bicyclists traveling around Louisville equals less fuel consumption and resulting pollution, and increased bike ridership encourages an active, healthier community. Beyond the environmental benefits, the UBN will also have a positive impact on the local economy.
For the Love of a City
The 6th Street corridor of the Louisville UBN demonstrates the future of transportation infrastructure, and Gresham Smith has established itself as a leader in the efficient planning, effective design and swift implementation of a successful network. Our staff not only spearheaded the network’s creation, but also use it on a daily basis. As avid bike commuters, our Louisville employees helped Metro write their application for Bicycle Friendly Community, and then submitted one of our own for Bicycle Friendly Business.
Bike lanes and facilities in the 6th Street corridor were completed in the fall of 2015. Based on a citywide survey, public response to the developing UBN has been positive and affirms that Gresham Smith’s choices are producing safe and useful facilities that will lead to more riders. In addition to the 6th Street corridor, seven other routes to the UBN have also been completed and 10 more are underway.
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Mike Sewell, P.E., LCI
Office Transportation Leader