Family Freedom Fun Ride

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What better way to celebrate July 4th than by exercising new freedoms? Thanks to the new bike lanes on Kentucky and Breckinridge, cycling the city is finally relaxing and fun. Bring your whole family out and show the media that we support bicycling for all!

This ride will be short. It’s 5.2 miles – 45 minutes at kid pace. It will mostly be on Kentucky and Breckinridge streets. In our judgement, it is safe for any supervised kid who can ride consistently in that lane and obey stop lights. 

The ride starts and ends at the playground in the southwest corner of Central Park. You can bring a picnic for after, or stop by Dizzy Whiz for ice cream.

 

This ride is brought to you by Bicycling for Louisville and Louisville Bicycle Club. Invite your friends using the Facebook event page.

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Why Breckinridge Matters

It was a dark night in autumn, and I was bicycling from a friend’s house to a dance across town. I was rolling predictably down Kentucky Street. Without warning, there was an astonishingly loud crack right behind me. Suddenly I was flying through the air. I landed in a heap, with car headlights shining over my body and the wreck of my bicycle. I was stunned, unable to determine what had happened.

I had been rear-ended by a motorist. She was a teenage girl. She had somehow overlooked my two obnoxiously bright tail lights and slammed into me. We called the police and we settled down for an hour to create the crash report. It was probably her first crash, and she was scared and traumatized. She had to call her parents and explain things to them. She was on the hook for my medical and mechanical bills. I think it’s safe to say it ruined her week.

For my part, I was incredibly lucky I wasn’t hurt more badly.

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Cut to the same street, this spring. I’m pedaling home and I sense a car coming up behind me too fast. I have nowhere to go, so I desperately speed up to buy time. At the last second, the motorist swerves to avoid me. Silhouetted against the street lights ahead, I see a cell-phone pressed to an ear inside a speeding car. That driver couldn’t handle both talking and driving. Now I’m getting angry, and I follow the car on an adrenaline-fueled chase through Germantown. The driver manages to give me the slip at first, but he’s delivering pizza and I get lucky and hunt him down. He’s a senior citizen driver working a tough job, and he apologizes profusely. I decide to cut him some slack and let the matter drop.

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Hit from behind crashes are usually rare on urban streets at night. But probably because of the high urban speed limit, they sure seem like a threat on Breckinridge and Kentucky. Drivers: you don’t want to hit a cyclist. You don’t want to have that blood on your hands.

Louisville recently removed one travel lane and added a nice bike lane. Now traffic moves at the speed of the most prudent driver. These reckless motorists who hit or almost hit me would have been reigned in by other motorists on the road. The road is slower and safer for everyone.

This change has not proven popular.

Look – I get it – there are currently vastly more motorists than bicyclists on this corridor, and some of them will face delay. However, that is not very important. The safety benefit of the new roadways will save a handful of human lives. That is vastly more important than a lot of people grumbling about little delays.

Bike Lane Tour of Chicago

I went up to Chicago and got a tour of their Urban Bike Network with their network engineer. Here are the lessons that apply to Louisville’s Urban Bike Network.

They are using green paint at conflict points. This is the reverse of New York’s system of using green on straightaways. Chicago’s approach is superior for two reasons: (1) green paint is expensive, it’s cheaper to do it at the rare places (2) Like a bicyclist, a motorist entering a conflict point has to go over a color transition on the pavement, potentially making them more careful.

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They are also using green paint really inconsistently and confusingly throughout their network. Perhaps we will also make this mistake.

Unbuffered bike lanes are clearly on the way out. I saw a few DZBLs, but they are already the minority compared to 7+ foot bike lanes. They are sanding out their 8′ parking / 5′ bike lane geometries and going with 7′ parking, 2′ buffer, 5′ bike lane.

They pay an enormous cost-per-mile. Their Breckinridge equivalent streets cost them $150,000/mile. Their neighborway equivalent cost them $70,000 for one or two miles. The latter is sharrows and a sign or two. Our cost-per-mile is way below this.

In their favor, their pavement markings and sharrows are crisp and flat, not the icky gooey three-dee glop we use. At a fraction of the price, I prefer our system.

They, too, have problems with disappearing paint.

They have bike stop light signalheads in appropriate places. I saw about three. They saw stop light compliance from cyclists go from 30% to 80% after installation. Unlike New York City, they did not overuse them.

Their mayor has pledged 100 miles of “separated bikeways”. As with us last year, that has created a tension between fulfilling the spirit of the goal (a intuitive low stress network) and fulfilling the letter of the goal (lane miles).

They are using bollards on about 20% of their arterials. The rest are paint buffers. It was unclear if they were counting paint buffered bike lanes towards their goal.

They aspire to replace their bollards with a different pavement material from the rest of the road within 1-2 years.

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This winter they lost 300 bollards to snow plows. When bike lanes went between parked cars and the curb, the bollards amdist the parking were particularly resilient. Bollards between bike and travel lanes did not fare as well. They shrugged off the damage as a cost of doing business. However, they are filthy rich compared to us.

They are just starting their neighborways. They’re still figuring out how to get nabes to accept closing blocks to thru traffic with bollards. Good luck with that!

They have a lot of traffic circle type things. They were bigger and older than what we are looking at here.
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The #1 thing I noticed: Their traffic calming was pervasive. On arterials and in neighborhoods, it was just impossible to speed. The only stressors I felt were in the eddies of automotive traffic in their innermost city. Where they had built facilities through that, they helped a lot, not the least because they made a bicycle the most consistently fast vehicle on the road.

Overall, I was impressed with their progress and agreed with most of their decisions. I was surprised by how much I liked their ultra-wide bike lanes. They made arterials more relaxing than I expected.

Kentucky Bike Law Reforms!

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet is reforming the regulations pertaining to bicycle traffic law, and it looks to be a pretty solid win for bicycle’s acceptance as a mainstream form of transportation. For example, we all know that bike lanes are often not the best place to ride, but feared legal repercussions for leaving them. Here’s the current Kentucky regulation governing that:

If a highway lane is marked for the exclusive use of bicycles, the operator of a bicycle shall use the lane whenever feasible;

There is no explict guidance as to what constitutes “feasible”, so the cyclist gets to argue with the police officer by the side of the road. Here’s the new improved language:

If a highway lane is marked for the exclusive use of bicycles, the operator of a bicycle shall use the lane unless;

1.Travelling at the legal speed;
2. Preparing for or executing a left turn;
3. Passing a slower moving vehicle;
4. Avoiding a hazard;
5. Avoiding the door zone of a parked vehicle; or
6. Approaching a driveway or intersection where vehicles are permitted to turn right from a lane to the left of the bicycle lane.

That is every situation I can conceive of. They even got driveways – which I don’t bother to integrate for, but presumably some people out there do. Pretty good!

Kentucky has a law that says the operators of slower moving vehicles shall keep as far to the right as practicable so as to facilitate overtaking traffic. I’m not sure if the KAR has the scope to modify that, but that doesn’t keep this reform from trying:

(3) A bicycle operated in a highway lane with other vehicle types shall keep to the right unless:

(a) Preparing for and executing a left turn;
(b) Passing a slower moving vehicle;
(c) The lane is too narrow to be considered a shared lane. A bicycle may be ridden far enough to the left to prevent overtaking vehicles from attempting to pass in the same lane;
(d) Approaching an intersection or driveway where right-turn movements are permitted. A bicycle may be ridden far enough to the left to avoid potential conflicts with right turning vehicles;
(e) It is necessary to avoid a hazard. A bicycle may be ridden far enough to the left to provide a reasonable safety space to the right;
(f) The bicycle is operating on a one (1) way street with two (2) or more marked traffic lanes. A bicyclist may ride as near as practicable to the left side of the roadway subject to the conditions in paragraphs (b) through (e) of this subsection;
(g) It is necessary for a cyclist to use a lane other than the right lane to continue his or her route; or
(h) The bicycle is operating at or near the legal speed.

I mean, the only thing I see missing here is the right to leave the bike lane while exceeding the legal speed limit, which is asking a lot of, y’know, the traffic law.🙂

KYTC is reportedly planning public meetings and public input to vet these changes. We’ll carry news on that when we have it. 

Here is the full proposal, sorry in advance for the format munging:

Transportation Cabinet     

Kentucky Bicycle and Bikeways Commission

Office of the Secretary

(Amendment)

601 KAR 14:020. Bicycle safety standards.

RELATES TO: KRS 189.030(1), 189.450 [KRS Chapter 189]

STATUTORY AUTHORITY: [KRS 174.125,] 189.287

NECESSITY, FUNCTION, AND CONFORMITY: KRS 189.287 requires the cabinet to promulgate administrative regulations to establish standards for bicycle safety and equipment. This administrative regulation establishes the equipment and safety requirements required in the operation of a bicycle [KRS Chapter 189 sets forth many bicycle safety standards that can be overridden by administrative regulations promulgated by the Transportation Cabinet. The Bicycle and Bikeways Commission authorized by KRS 174.125 has suggested that with the ever-growing use of bicycles in Kentucky additional or different standards are necessary for the safety of the traveling public. This administrative regulation sets forth the required bicycle safety standards].

Section 1. Definitions.(1) “Bicycle”:

(a) Means a device with an attached seat propelled solely by human power upon which a person may rides astride regardless of the number and size of the wheels in contact with the ground; and (b) Does not mean a:

1. Wheelchair designed for a person with a disability; or

2. Device designed solely for use as a play vehicle for a child.

(2) “Hazard” means a condition present on the roadway that constitutes a danger to a bicycle rider such as:

(a) A fixed or moving object;

(b) A parked or moving vehicle;

(c) A pedestrian;

(d) A surface irregularity; or

(e) An animal.

(3) “Shared lane” means a single lane of traffic less than fourteen (14) feet in width not including the gutter pan.

Section 2 [Section 1. Front] Lights and reflectors. (1) A bicycle operated on a highway during the hours or atmospheric conditions described in KRS 189.030(1) shall display at least [be equipped with] one (1) front light on either the bicycle or the bicyclist that is visible for 500 feet and capable of revealing [which clearly reveals] substantial objects at least fifty (50) feet in front of the bicycle [ahead and which is visible for 500 feet].

[Section 2. Rear Lights or Reflectors.](2) A bicycle[,] if [when] operated on a highway or highway shoulder[,] shall display on either the bicycle or the bicyclist[so that it is visible from the rear of the bicycle]:

(a) [(1)] One (1) red reflector or red light visible for at least 100 feet from the rear of the bicycle; and

(b) [(2)] One (1) red light or a flashing red light visible from the rear of the bicycle for at least 500 feet during the hours or atmospheric conditions described in KRS 189.030(1)[, one (1) red light or flashing red light visible for at least 500 feet].

Section 3 [Section 3]. Horn or Bell. (1) A bicycle may be equipped with a bell, horn, or other device capable of making an abrupt sound, but shall not be equipped with a siren or whistle.

(2) A[Every] person operating a bicycle shall shout or sound the bell, horn, or other sound device as necessary to warn pedestrians or other bicycles of the approach of the bicycle [whenever necessary as a warning of the approach of the bicycle to pedestrians or other bicycles, but shall not sound the horn or sound device unnecessarily.

(3) A bicycle shall not be equipped with a siren or whistle].

Section 4. Brakes. A bicycle shall not be operated on a highway or highway shoulder without a brake or brakes adequate to control the movement of,or [and] to stop the bicycle within fifteen (15) feet at a speed of ten (10) miles per hour on a dry, level, clean pavement

Section 5. Seat. (1)(a) A bicyclist[,] if [when] operating on a highway or highway shoulder[,] shall ride [on or] astride a seat attached to the bicycle [a permanently attached bicycle seat].

(b) A bicyclist operating on a highway or highway shoulder may transport a person in a seat or carrying device attached to the bicycle in a manner in which the seat or device is manufactured and designed to be used.

[Section 6. Passengers.] (2) A bicycle [, when being] operated on a highway or highway shoulder[,] shall not carry more than the number of persons for which the bicycle is [was] designed or [is] safely equipped.

Section 6. Transporting a package and attaching to a motor vehicle. (1) [Section 7. Packages.] A bicyclist[, when] operating on a highway or highway shoulder[,] shall not carry a package, bundle, or article that prevents the operator from keeping [at least] one (1) hand on the handle bars.

[Section 8. Prohibition Against Attaching to Vehicles.] (2) A bicyclist[, when] operating on a highway or highway shoulder[,] shall not attach either the bicycle or himself or herself to a motor vehicle [any other vehicle].

Section 7[Section 9]. Operation of Bicycles. (1) A bicycle shall be operated in the same manner as a motor vehicle, except that the [following] traffic conditions established in paragraphs (a) and (b) of this subsection shall apply.[:]

(a)[(1)] A bicycle may be operated on the shoulder of a highway unless prohibited by law or ordinance. Where bicycle travel on shoulders is permitted, it shall not be required.

(b)[(2)] If a highway lane is marked for the exclusive use of bicycles, the operator of a bicycle shall use the lane unless: [whenever feasible;]

1.Travelling at the legal speed;

2. Preparing for or executing a left turn;

3. Passing a slower moving vehicle;

4. Avoiding a hazard;

5. Avoiding the door zone of a parked vehicle; or

6. Approaching a driveway or intersection where vehicles are permitted to turn right from a lane to the left of the bicycle lane.

(2)[(3)] Not more than two (2) bicycles shall be operated abreast in a single highway lane unless part of the roadway is exclusively for bicycle use. Persons riding two (2) abreast shall not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic.

(3) A bicycle operated in a highway lane with other vehicle types shall keep to the right unless:

(a) Preparing for and executing a left turn;

(b) Passing a slower moving vehicle;

(c) The lane is too narrow to be considered a shared lane. A bicycle may be ridden far enough to the left to prevent overtaking vehicles from attempting to pass in the same lane;

(d) Approaching an intersection or driveway where right-turn movements are permitted. A bicycle may be ridden far enough to the left to avoid potential conflicts with right turning vehicles;

(e)It is necessary to avoid ahazard. A bicycle may be ridden far enough to the left to provide a reasonable safety space to the right;

(f) The bicycle is operating on a one (1) way street with two (2) or more marked traffic lanes. A bicyclist may ride as near as practicable to the left side of the roadway subject to the conditions in paragraphs (b) through (e) of this subsection;

(g) It is necessary for a cyclist to use a lane other than the right lane to continue his or her route; or

(h) The bicycle is operating at or near the legal speed.

(5)(a) A bicycle may be operated on a sidewalk or a crosswalk unless prohibited by law or ordinance.

(b) A bicyclist operating on a sidewalk or crosswalk shall have the rights and duties of a pedestrian in the same circumstances.

(c) A bicyclist using a sidewalk or crosswalk shall:

1. Slow to the speed of an ordinary walk where pedestrians are present or if approaching a crosswalk, driveway, or other crossing where a motor vehicle is present; and

2. Not suddenly leave the sidewalk or crosswalk and move into the path of another vehicle that is close enough to constitute an immediate hazard.

(d) A bicyclist operating on a highway or highway shoulder shall obey an official traffic control device applicable to a pedestrian unless otherwise directed by a police officer or other officially designated person.

(e ) A bicyclist operating on a highway or highway shoulder shall yield the right of way to a vehicle if crossing the road at a point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection.

(6) A bicyclist operating on a highway or highway shoulder may proceed against a red light if a traffic signal fails to detect the bicycle.

Section 8. Bicycle Parking. (1) Unless prohibited, a bicycle may be parked on a sidewalk if it does not impede the movement of pedestrians or traffic.

(2) A bicycle may be parked in the roadway at an angle to the curb or edge of the roadway at a location where bicycle parking is allowed.

(3) A bicycle shall not be parked or stopped as established for a vehicle in KRS 189.450(b) through (j).

(4) A bicycle may be parked on the roadway abreast of another bicycle or bicycles near the side of a roadway where parking of vehicles is allowed. 

Bike Improvement Meetings for Olmsted Parkways

Bike Lanes, chaining together access roads for bicycles, and bike paths are all in the mix for Southwestern, Algonquin, and Southern parkways, I’d wager. Come out and support better cycling facilities!

Via Metro Parks:

Louisville Metro Parks & Recreation will host a series of four public meetings to gather input on the Olmsted Parkways Shared Use Path, a bicycle/pedestrian improvement project. The focus of the meetings will be the proposed design for building a shared use path along the parkways, and the design for a road diet to allow for bicycle lanes along the parkways.

Meeting dates and locations:

  • 10/22 – 6pm-8pm – Southern Star Baptist, 2304 Algonquin Pkwy
  • 10/28 – 6pm-8pm – First Gethsemane Baptist, 1159 Algonquin Pkwy
  • 10/29 – 6pm-8pm – Shawnee Golf clubhouse, 460 Northwestern Pkwy
  • 11/4 – 6pm-8pm – Ashland Ave Firehouse, 501 Ashland Ave

The meeting begins with an open house at 6pm, with presentation of the plan at 7pm followed by a question and answer period.

FREE Bike Transportation Class

Our 45 minute introduction to bicycling for college students is now open to the public! Register now.

Wed 9/4/13 1:30-2:30pm, Downtown HSC Library Commons Auditorium 103. Register here.
Wed 9/4/13 3-4pm, Downtown HSC Library Commons Auditorium 103. Register here.
Fri 9/6/13 2-3pm, Strickler Hall Room 102. Register here.
Mon 9/9/13 5-6pm, Ekstrom Library Chao Auditorium. Register here.
Mon 9/9/13 6:30-7:30pm, Ekstrom Library Chao Auditorium. Register here.
Tues 9/10/13 4-5pm, Downtown HSC Library Commons Auditorium 103. Register here.
Tues 9/10/13 5:30-6:30pm, Downtown HSC Library Commons Auditorium 103. Register here.
Sat 9/14/13 11am-Noon, Strickler Hall Room 102. Register here.
Sat 9/14/13 12:30 -1:30pm, Strickler Hall Room 102. Register here.

Little Bike Marking at Stop Lights

We’ve been getting a lot of questions about what is this little bicycle marking is for. Why, it’s for getting you to ask questions, of course!

Do you see the vertical saw cut in the road that the marking goes over? That is a bundle of wires which will trigger the stoplight if you put a car over it. Your bike may also trigger it, if you manage to put your rims directly on it.  (and I mean directly!!) This only works on stop lights that function by detectors – which is most of them, excepting of course downtown, Old Louisville, and the West end.

But if you see the saw cuts in the road, you can be sure it’s a light you can try to trigger, regardless of whether this little bike marking is there or not. If you have your choice of 3 cuts, aim for the middle one, it’s twice as sensitive.

Now you know!

Advocacy Update

In 2012 Bicycling for Louisville published a secret report to Louisville Metro, advocating for building an “Urban Bicycle Network”.

This summer, Metro Louisville funded an Urban Bike Network.

This July, Bicycling for Louisville – particularly Chris Glasser – has been working with the city on a network of “low stress” bicycle boulevards.

Today, Bicycling for Louisville successfully advocated for improving the geometry of bike lanes on First & Brook. When completed next month, these will be the best bike lanes in the history of the region.

Maximize bicycle facilities – make them safe, comfortable, and useful to as many people as possible – join Bicycling for Louisville!