Yesterday’s pedestrian safety rally dubbed Operation Sidewalk Defense on Bardstown Road at the site of of the recently demolished car wash has been declared a success. Sponsored by CART (Coalition for the Advancement of Regional Transportation), the rally reportedly saved countless lives as supporters helped pedestrians navigate around an unruly construction fence.
CART employed bright neon-colored signs with slogans such as “Pedestrians are sexy” and “Your feet are neat” to get their message across and even had their trusty chicken on hand to ensure all motorists were aware of the danger. Apparently, up to ten pedestrians were forced onto the street at a time during the rally and the police showed up to order the pedestrians out of the street. I’ll have more details later. Check out a few more photos of the rally on flickr.
At issue are sidewalk closures common in construction zones. Safe pedestrian lanes aren’t always required under these permits resulting in scenarios like the one on Bardstown Road. Property owners are only required to fulfill the requirements set forth in the permit, so they have technically done nothing wrong, but if the city would stipulate that safe passage on foot is required, everyone would be a little safer.
David Morse, president of CART, says that henceforth, an ultimatum has been issued to the city:
The new system for sidewalk closures: if the city issues a dumb sidewalk closing permit, they’ll be hearing from citizens. We’ve given them a pass, but not anymore. Walking is not optional. Walking is the fundamental human transportation, and freedom to walk is a civil right. A city that lightly dismisses walking has lost sight of its first asset—closely packed people. A city that regulates sidewalk closings and messes up this badly has shown that it has a flaw in its system.
He also points out that Louisville has recently established a plan to improve such issues in the Louisville Community Walkability Plan adopted in 2008, but there are obviously many challenges ahead. I’m glad these issues of pedestrian safety are being pushed to the fore especially in light of Louisville’s dismal national rating for pedestrian safety.