Backlash Ensues after Kentucky State Fair Bike Ban

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Kentucky Fair & Exposition Center. (Map via Lojic)
Kentucky Fair & Exposition Center. (Map via Lojic)

An internal memo from the Kentucky State Fair surfaced a few days ago (when a cyclist was turned away from the fair) revealing the fair’s regressive transportation policy banning bikes from the Kentucky Fair & Exposition Center. According to the note from Jerry Frantz, executive director at the Kentucky State Fair Board, cyclists are required to leave their bikes  at the periphery gates and walk through a vast sea of parking and cars before finally reaching the fair. The memo has rightly hit a nerve among Louisville’s cycling community and a Boycott the Kentucky State Fair page has been established on Facebook.

Leaked internal memo fron the KY State Fair bans bikes. (Via Twitter)
Leaked internal memo from the KY State Fair bans bikes. (Via Twitter)

Most in Louisville haven’t forgotten the notorious clogging of the fairgrounds, its sprawling surface parking lots, and the ring road from previous big events, but it looks like the Fair Board is either greedily looking to collect more $8 parking fees or wants to induce auto congestion like this:

Here’s the wording from the internal memo:

…bicycles are not to be admitted to the grounds but should be chained to the side fences or left at the gate (but not where they might obstruct pedestrians or vehicular traffic). All bicycle owners are to be told that in no way will the Fairgrounds or the Gate personnel be responsible for their bicycles.

The Kentucky State Fair is playing this up as a safety issue, because you know, bikes are dangerous. Kirk Kandle spoke with the fair officials who put one of the most anti-bike displays I have seen in a while. While he couldn’t reach Frantz, he got a hold of two spokespeople. Kirk first talked with Ellen Anderson, who passed the buck to Amanda Storment (emphasis added):

“I do know it’s a safety issue because people are walking around and you can’t have bicycles interfering with traffic.”…

When Amanda Storment, Vice President of Media and Public Relations, got back to me, she stressed that the bike ban is “strictly a safety issue.” She said bikes would create a hazard for motorists and pedestrians

I asked Storment how bikes could be as dangerous as cars, trucks or motorcycles. She said, “Look, we’re putting on a fair here. People are moving all over 500 acres. We know that if we let bikes on the property someone is going to get hurt.

Kandle received the official policy from the fair, which contained this snipped: “It is difficult to ride through crowds of people, and especially hazardous for bicyclists to ride through parking lots where they are difficult to see from vehicles.”

Whas11 stopped by to talk with cyclists and to take a look at where the Fair Board would like cyclists to lock up (watch the video below):

David Morse, one of the organizers of the fair boycott has a simple request:

The organizers of “Boycott Kentucky State Fair” are asking for the State Fair to do bike parking the way every other facility does bike parking. Make bicycling to the state fair routine, not a hassle. Put a few short-term bike parking spots at most of the building entrances. In other words, comply with the Louisville Metro Land Development Code which states bicycle racks shall be “at least as close to the primary entrance as is the nearest non-handicapped automobile parking space”.

Let bicyclists pedal up like at any other place in Louisville, dismount, lock, and go enjoy themselves.

James Bruggers pointed out that state fairs in Wisconsin, Indiana, Minnesota, and Nebraska all encourage biking and offer free parking for cyclists. Additionally, on the fair’s web site doesn’t offer directions to the venue for bike or transit at all. You can leave a complaint at the Kentucky State Fair’s web site. This is embarrassing, Kentucky.

Branden Klayko

Founder and Editor at Broken Sidewalk
Branden is a writer and architectural designer living in Brooklyn. After graduating from the College of Architecture at Washington University in St. Louis, Branden practiced architecture in Louisville where he worked on several large LEED Certified buildings. Branden is the senior web editor at The Architect’s Newspaper, where he covers architecture, design, and urbanism. He has also written about design for Designers & Books, sustainability for Inhabitat, and architecture for the American Institute of Architects. He founded Broken Sidewalk in 2007, an online collaborative promoting architecture and urbanism in Louisville, Kentucky and the Midwest.

4 COMMENTS

  1. This is indeed very embarrassing to the state. Plain and simple… those in charge are too lazy to come up with a plan for bikes, so what’s the solution? Ban them. Cars, trucks, RVs, and horse trailers are not dangerous, but bikes are? This should not be happening in Louisville.

  2. The KSFB has had a year to reconsider this bike ban. Some reasonable bike advocates have engaged the Fair Board in recent discussions, but the Board doesn’t connect the dots. Too bad. In the words of Sam Cooke, “It’s been a long, long time coming, but I know a change is gonna come.”

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