Until now, Louisville’s Urban Bike Network (UBN) meant more on paper than on pavement—but that’s changing fast. “The bike lanes in town didn’t make up a network until the past few years,” Chris Glasser, president of the nonprofit Bicycling for Louisville, told Broken Sidewalk. “Everything was very disconnected—a bike lane here, a bike lane there.”
A chart provided to Broken Sidewalk shows just how much the network has grown over the years, creating a network of bike lanes and Neighborways that makes meaningful connections for cycling safely around the city.
The pace began to pick up in 2013, when Bicycling for Louisville Board Member Dave Morse delivered a report to Mayor Greg Fischer making the case for investing in an urban bike network. “In June of that year, Fischer announced that his budget would include $300,000 for ’30 miles of bike lanes’,” Glasser said.
You can explore the growth of Louisville’s Urban Bike Network using the interactive map above.
Before 2013, the state was building the bike lanes piecemeal and not doing a great job of it. “Most of their facilities were pretty bad,” Glasser said. “Bike lanes that were very narrow, like on Poplar Level Road, or with no door zones next to parking zones, like on Market Street.”
Since 2013, the city began to take bike infrastructure seriously. “In the time since, we’ve averaged about 15–20 miles of bike infrastructure per year,” Glasser said. “Some of these miles are your classic bike lanes, some are what the city calls Neighborways, and which nationally are called ‘bike boulevards’ or ‘neighborhood greenways’.”
Glasser said the Neighborways program is ideal for flat, gridded streets like those commonly found in West Louisville. “We’ll have one on 23rd Street stretching from Northwestern Parkway in Portland all the way to Shively.”
Downtown, wider streets make bike lanes more appropriate. “In many cases, we can add a 7-foot bike lane without having to remove any driving lanes,” Glasser said. Such examples include facilities on Sixth Street, Seventh Street, Muhammad Ali Boulevard, and Chestnut Street. “This is great for biking but also great for traffic calming and pedestrian safety.”
Glasser applauded the progress the city has made with a shoestring budget. “It’s a testament to how really not a lot of money can have a big impact on the city,” Glasser said. “In total, we’ve spent less than $1,000,000 on these additions. That’s nothing.”
“Day-to-day, week-to-week, it feels like it’s coming pretty slow. It can be pretty frustrating, honestly,” Glasser said. “But after three years, it’s really gratifying looking at a map and seeing how much has changed.”