Blocked sidewalk on Bardstown Road (Image via CART)
Blocked sidewalk on Bardstown Road (Image via CART)
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Sidewalks are too often neglected by construction sites around the city. It’s easy to block a sidewalk and assume pedestrians—like water—will find a way around. Examples abound all over the city, but CART recently picked up on a sidewalk that has apparently been blocked on heavily traveled Bardstown Road and plans a rally Monday afternoon to draw attention to pedestrian rights.

They also put together a couple videos to demonstrate the dangers of this particular crossing and how traffic could handle a quick solution. Here’s what CART has to say about the issue:

The city has issued a permit shutting down walking on one side of Bardstown Road for almost a month. Crossing to the other side of the road is highly impractical—Bardstown is a busy 4 lane arterial. They can require the construction of a plywood tunnel, but they have not. They can annex the adjacent flex lane for people on foot, but they have not. There’s a whole library of tools they could employ, but they have not.

At some level the city knows these closures result in people taking risks. But even more insidious is the destruction of walking as a viable means of transportation. When you stand in front of this closed sidewalk, no number of walkability plans will convince you that walking is valued in Louisville. Perhaps that’s why “Maintain pedestrian-ways during construction and special events” was listed as a major short-term objective (4.3) of the Louisville Community Walkability Plan of 2008. Clearly we haven’t gotten that done.

It’s clear CART is tired of pedestrians taking a back seat, and rightfully so. The Sidewalk Defense Rally will be held today (Monday) from 4:00 to 6:00pm at 1401 Bardstown Road. (There may or may not be a large chicken involved?) CART says their main goal is to help pedestrians navigate the dangerous sidewalk during rush hour and advance pedestrian rights in a non-confrontational manner. You can RSVP on this Facebook page or just show up.

Construction sidewalk in Manhattan
Construction sidewalk in Manhattan. (Branden Klayko / Broken Sidewalk)

As CART points out, there are easy solutions to the construction sidewalk challenge. In New York, construction sites are so common and so many people need to get around that pedestrian safety is usually already taken care of. Depending on the size of the street, wooden barricades anchored by massive timbers will define the temporary sidewalk in the road. A busier street might require the full use of concrete Jersey barriers.

It’s such a simple problem to fix and a solution could be implemented very quickly. Hopefully no one will be injured or killed before action is taken. It’s important to remember that we have a long way to go in terms of walkability after being named the 7th Most Dangerous City for Pedestrians by the Dangerous by Design report.

Closed sidewalks at the arena site
Closed sidewalks at the arena site. (Branden Klayko / Broken Sidewalk)
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Branden Klayko

Founder and Editor at Broken Sidewalk
Branden founded Broken Sidewalk in 2008 while practicing architecture in Louisville. He continued the site for seven years while living in New York City, returning to Louisville in 2016. Branden is a graduate of the College of Architecture at Washington University in St. Louis, and has covered architecture, design, and urbanism for The Architect's Newspaper, Designers & Books, Inhabitat, and the American Institute of Architects.
Branden Klayko

10 COMMENTS

  1. So can you find out, specifically, who is responsible for setting these requirements such as the plywood tunnel, or using the flex lanes? Let’s not just be upset at the city, let’s call out individuals and have the Sidewalk Defense Rally in front of the city officials office. You’ve got to get the attention of not cares and cares alone, but can actually do something about it.

  2. What is really frustrating is that able-bodied people are put in danger with these closed sidewalks such as the one on Bardstown Rd. But what about the little old lady in the wheelchair? At least I can step down from the curb and into traffic. She can’t very well wheel herself down the curb, into traffic, and back up the curb.

    I think that CART should find someone in a wheelchair or has another mobility impairment and sue the city. Protests are great, but if the city is forced to pay out a million or two dollars, you’d better believe they would change things over night.

  3. Is the city REQUIRED to provide a sidewalk in the first place? Just because it’s there is it being taken for granted? Just because Mcdonalds has free WiFi, and they start charging for it again down the road, do we sue them because I couldn’t pay my bills while dining in?

  4. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, yes, cities are required to provide access for mobility and visually impaired people. That doesn’t necessarily mean sidewalks but there must be obstruction-free, safe right of ways for disabled people to get around. Instead of sidewalks they could offer TARC3 service around the places where the sidewalk is blocked and in fact the city does offer TARC3 service to places where there are no sidewalks.

    On December 22, 2009 Berkeley California was hit with a $1.1 BILLION (yes, with a B) fine for not providing access to the city for disabled people. Most of that fine will go to improving 2500 miles of sidewalk so it’s not going into someone’s pocket.

  5. Whether a sidewalk is *Required* should not really be the issue. It’s one of the most heavily walked streets in the city and I’m sure the city wants that to continue! Even foster similar activity in as many other places as possible!

    Similarly, I wasn’t commenting about whether these developers were allowed to block the sidewalk, but that doing so runs counter to the goals of their project – unless, that is, ‘green’ is more marketing than principle.

  6. “obstruction-free, safe right of ways for disabled people to get around”

    There isn’t a sidewalk on 6 mile lane between Hurstbourne and Breckenridge. Therefore, there is no safe passage for a person outside of a vehicle. Is there a law somewhere that says the section of bardstown should be fixed?

  7. Aaron… when you quoted me, you left off a few words:

    “[They] offer TARC3 service to places where there are no sidewalks.”

    If you are handicap and need to get to that portion of Six Mile, you can either take a regular TARC or a TARC3 when it’s not possible to use the regular TARC in those areas. Anyway, read KRS 66.660 (http://www.lrc.ky.gov/KRS/066-00/660.PDF)

    “(1) The legislative body of any city, county or urban-county government shall provide for and regulate crosswalks, curbs, and gutters; provided, that after June 17, 1978, all new curbs, and all existing curbs which are a part of any reconstruction, within any block which is contiguous to any highway and in which fifty percent (50%) of the territory is devoted to or zoned for business, commercial, residential or industrial use, shall comply with the provisions of subsection (2).
    “(2) In order to enable persons using wheelchairs to travel freely and without assistance, at each crosswalk a ramp with nonslip surface shall be built into the curb so that the sidewalk and street blend to a common level. Such ramp shall not be less than thirty-two (32) inches wide and shall not have a slope greater than one (1) inch rise per twelve (12) inches length, where practicable. In all ramps there shall be a gradual rounding at the bottom of the slope.”

    So, yes, I think the law says the city must make sure that the portion of Bardstown Rd in question is passable and things need to be wheelchair accessible.

    As for the goals of the project, it’s cheaper and easier to just shut down the sidewalk rather than try to provide passage. Until it because cost prohibitive or difficult, they are going to do it over and over again.

  8. That’s really good information. Thanks for providing it. I wasn’t aware of that, and it sounds pretty fair. It is unfortunate about what’s happening at those places, they are annoying even for the able bodied.

    I was really only being devils advocate for the sake of the articles effectiveness. If the author has a desire for people to band together and try and get something done about it, provide the information needed to do so.

    /rant. Trying to be constructive and helpful.

  9. In a city hellbent on the creation ‘biking lanes’ in a part of town that almost requires walking???

  10. @Aaron Anderson

    “If the author has a desire for people to band together and try and get something done about it, provide the information needed to do so.”

    You get what you pay for…

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