How Many People Are Using Louisville’s Newest Bike Lanes?

Louisville has a preliminary count on the number of commuters who use one of the city’s newest bike lanes on any given weekday.

Fifty-three cyclists used the Kentucky Street bike lane during last Tuesday’s evening rush hour—between 4 and 6 p.m. Metro Public Works spokesman Harold Adams said he expected that number to grow as more commuters take advantage of the bike lanes to get downtown.

The city installed full-lane bike lanes on both Kentucky and Breckinridge streets this spring, linking the Highlands, Germantown and Smoketown with Old Louisville and downtown. Some of the city’s other bike lanes require cars and bicycles to share a lane, or offer a narrow lane next to traffic. But the Kentucky and Breckenridge lanes give cyclists a full lane, buffered from traffic on both sides.

Metro Government spent about $300,000 on bike lanes last year, and Mayor Greg Fischer has included $300,000 for bike lanes in this fiscal year’s budget.

“Last year, we increased the road paving budget to more than $6 million,” Fischer said in his budget address in May. “I’m pleased that we are able to continue at that level this year, making our roads smoother and safer while including $300,000 for new bike lanes and $250,000 for bike share stations.

“Providing cycling options is part of being a healthy and clean city. I hope one day there will be many parts of the city where you can live without needing an automobile for daily transport.”

But according to the Courier-Journal, several Metro Council members have objected to the spending. From a June 21, 2014 story:

By Aug. 31, council members want to see a plan for measuring bicycle use on any streets where car lanes have been converted to bike lanes and a study of bike traffic on the new dedicated bike lanes on Kentucky and Breckinridge streets between the Highlands and Old Louisville.

They also want to see a master plan for bike lanes or other bike facilities throughout the city and have asked the Fischer administration to hold more public meetings on its bike plans. They also asked for information on a potential ordinance that would tax bicyclists by assessing licensing fees, according to the budget language.

“We don’t have any interest in stopping bike lanes,” said Metro Council President Jim King, D-10th District. He said the city can complete any unfinished bike facility contracts, but council members need more information before they allow new spending.

Adams said his department was preparing to present data to Metro Council on bike lane use soon, though no date has been set.

Erica Peterson

Erica Peterson reports on energy and the environment for WFPL.

@ericampeterson

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