University of Kentucky


Lexington, KY


Engineering, Landscape Architecture, Planning

The University of Kentucky’s (UK) 900-acre campus in Lexington features extensive bicycle infrastructure, programs and initiatives, which has earned the University a Gold-Level Bicycle Friendly University status from the League of American Bicyclists. With a desire to level-up, the University called on Gresham Smith to explore opportunities for improvements that will enable UK to become a Platinum-Level Bicycle Friendly University. During the multi-phase master planning process, Gresham Smith’s team assessed the University’s current network and offered a variety of design solutions that will enhance how students, faculty and staff move through campus. The team then engaged with the community and gathered feedback on which design solutions will make cruising through campus a natural choice. After an in-depth review of campus plans and a holistic engagement from the community, final master plan serves as a roadmap for prioritizing bicycle infrastructure and programming in UK’s capital improvement projects.

acre campus
final master plan

Understanding Current Conditions

The first phase of the project focused on assessing the University’s current network, which includes the Wildcat Wheels Bicycle Library facility and services, high-quality bike racks, fix-it stations, and an indoor bike room equipped with showers and lockers. In addition to their own site visits and bike rides through campus, the Gresham Smith team engaged with advisory committee members, students, faculty and staff to learn about their experiences with the facilities and how they decide to walk, bike, ride the bus or drive across campus.

interactive online map for feedback
A detailed view of the online, interactive wikimap where participants could drop pins on the map share their suggestions.

Making the Most of “Going Virtual”

With the advent of the COVID-19, community engagement efforts were moved fully virtual to ensure that students and employees still had robust opportunities to participate in the planning process. A variety of methods to receive input and participation from the UK community was implemented, including an interactive website, wikimap, a virtual bicycle tour, and targeted email and social media campaigns.

screenshot of virtual engagement presentation

Developing Design Options

UK’s campus is already bike-friendly, but Gresham Smith saw an opportunity to make it bicycle-first. After assessing the existing network and infrastructure, the project team offered a variety of context-sensitive design solutions to take the campus’ facilities to the next level, such as dedicated bike paths and lanes, shared-use trails, improved signals and signage and increased access to the City of Lexington’s bicycle network. After developing design alternatives, the team collected feedback from the campus community through online maps and surveys, and interactive workshops.

bikes on UK campus
biker near UK campus

One Final Vision

During the final phase of the project, Gresham Smith incorporated community feedback into the master plan, which serves as a roadmap for prioritizing bicycle infrastructure and programming in capital improvement projects. The Master Plan was unveiled at an in-person party on the University campus. The firm is also working with the University to achieve Platinum-level Bicycle Friendly University status from the League of American Bicyclists, attracting students and faculty worldwide to learn, research and collaborate together on UK’s beautiful, easy-to-navigate campus.

map of top 10 UK bike plan projects
Top twenty priority projects by owner

Priority Projects

To best address the needs of campus, the master list of projects was split by ownership into two categories with 10 top-level projects in each: UK-Specific projects to address improvements on University-owned assets, and UK-Community Partnership projects, that are proposed along right-of-way owned by the LFUCG or the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, to identify projects that require external partnerships to expand UK connectivity into the surrounding area off campus.

UK-Specific Projects:

  • Rose Street
  • Complex Drive
  • Sports Center Drive
  • Huguelet Drive
  • University Drive
  • Rose Street and Avenue of Champions Intersection\
  • University Drive and Hilltop Avenue Intersection
  • Columbia Avenue and Woodland Avenue Intersection
  • Woodland Avenue
  • Columbia Avenue

UK-Community Partnership Projects

  • Virginia Avenue, Huguelet Drive and S. Limestone Intersection
  • Rose Street
  • Virginia Avenue
  • Cooper Drive
  • Upper Street
  • Waller Drive
  • Rosemont Garden, Nicholasville Road and Hiltonia Park Intersection
  • Limestone
  • Nicholasville Road
  • Maxwell St.
updated cross section of Rose Street with wider sidewalks and buffered bike lanes
The updated north-facing Rose Street includes wider sidewalks and buffered bike lanes.

Rose Street Implementation

An example of a UK-Specific project that has already been implemented is Rose Street. A critical connection between the University and downtown Lexington, providing access to residences, businesses, and parks through the urban trail system via Town Branch Commons and the Legacy Trail, it is a low-volume, low-speed University-owned roadway. It previously had bike lanes that varied in width and were next to curb and gutter, which reduces the useful width of the bike lane and forces bicyclists to ride closer to traffic, as well as narrow drive lanes and sidewalks. The lack of warning to bicyclists and motorists at the intersection with Avenue of Champions also created unsafe conditions. The fast-tracked implementation plan included reducing the striped center median to provide space for wider sidewalks and bike lanes, with enhanced transitions for bicyclists at the intersection with Avenue of Champions.

completed Rose Street bicycle and pedestrian plaza
Completed Rose Street bicycle and pedestrian plaza