LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Louisville officials plan to spend $300,000 over the next year to make the city more bike-friendly after a number of fatal bike accidents over the last decade.
The Courier-Journal (http://cjky.it/18fCFMR) reports that the funds approved by the Metro Council will be used to create 28 miles of dedicated or shared bike lanes that will connect downtown to the University of Louisville, with links to surrounding neighborhoods.
The Urban Bike Network is part of Mayor Greg Fischer's vision to eventually link the 100-mile Louisville Loop project around Jefferson County to the city's urban core.
He envisions providing alternative transportation that connects residential neighborhoods, recreation areas and civic attractions with shopping, business and entertainment districts.
"Any city that is growing ... is a bicycle friendly city," Fischer said. "People want more options for getting around. ... We are going to keep pushing this."
Fischer said other cities are improving their bike accommodations and that Louisville should do the same to be competitive. For example, he said Indianapolis recently announced it would spend $100 million on bike lanes, greenways and sidewalks.
Louisville officials also acknowledge the city has had an unfriendly reputation with bicyclists.
Since 2002, Louisville has had 17 fatal bike accidents, and nine of the fatalities resulted from cars or trucks striking bike riders from behind, according to city records.
Andy Murphy, president of the Louisville Bicycle Club, said many bicyclists "are scared to death to be out there with the cars."
"Having the opportunity to put in bike lanes is a step forward," he said. "If we can make it to where people feel comfortable to get out, we can make a difference."
The push to create a bike-friendly environment actually began about eight years ago when former Mayor Jerry Abramson launched a bike summit that called for improved maintenance on roads and paths traveled by cyclists, new bike lanes and public education.
The initial effort created 18 miles of bike lanes in two years, and the new funding has kick-started a new round of routes, with crews already painting new lane markings and symbols on roadways.
"It creates a hot spot," said David Morse, president of Bicycling for Louisville, a group that has been advocating for an urban bike network. "It was a very smart and strategic decision by the city (to) double down there."
Information from: The Courier-Journal, http://www.courier-journal.com