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Here are three transportation-related links for you:

  1. The new candidate for mayor in New Albany supports scaling down the Ohio River Bridges Project. Specifically, Irv Stumler says the downtown bridge could be put off.
  2. The proposed changes for the project may open the door for more delays.
  3. Public Radio’s Changing Gears project looks at how manufacturing belt cities can prosper by removing urban interstates.

The water taxi that has taken Hoosiers (and people who are bad at parking) across the river to events at the KFC Yum Center will stop running after Friday.

Friday is Park(ing) day, when people turn parking spaces into miniature parks, often feeding parking meters to maintain a grassy urban space.

One such park on Third Street was closed down.

According to Metro Louisville Public Works, a permit for the Park(ing) Day project would require the approval of Fire, EMS, PARC, and Public Works with a traffic engineer signing off on a traffic plan.  A three foot buffer would be required with barriers or reflective cones of some sort.  The agency says they are foremost concerned with safety and the permitting process is designed to promote that.

Public Works director Ted Pullen wasn’t immediately available for comment but a spokesperson in his office says, “All it takes is one person texting and driving to kill someone at the event.”

While the safety precautions designed into the permitting process are supposed to keep people safe, Public Works admits that it doesn’t always work citing an example of a biking event a couple years ago that was permitted with heavy traffic regulation.  Then, a drunk driver still managed to plow through and kill a cyclist despite the safety precautions.  It just goes to show that – permit of not – cars and drivers jeopardize the safety of people.

For the two hours or so that the park managed to occupy the Third Street parking spot, no traffic events went down.  Rather, passers by are reported to have expressed genuine interest and excitement at the prospect of a mini-park-for-a-day.  Some even had time to sit for a while and at least one game of chess took place.

This example really gets at the heart of the discussion that needs to be taking place: who are our public spaces really for?  Such demonstrations serve as an opportunity to market Louisville as a city that promotes out-of-the-box thinking to a broader global community.  Louisville must begin thinking actively and creatively about how quality green space affects our built environment.

While there are dangers in standing in a parking space along a street, this last question is of particular interest. “Who are our public spaces really for?” New York Times Ethicist Randy Cohen seems to have a problem with driving habits and parking spaces, and in this video, he calls certain vehicle choices unethical.

One point he brings up is: Why can people who own cars use street space and garage space to store them? Their cars are personal property, and cities provide car-owning citizens (and visitors) with places to store this property. Cohen wonders if he could put a trunk of his belongings on the street and pay the meter to store it. Would the Park(ing) day park be shut down if no one sat in it? What if they just set up a birdbath and astroturf?

Of course, someone could argue that while car ownership is not possible for everyone, and it is ultimately optional (though this is an easier option in many places), cars are still tools for transportation. People-movers bring customers to businesses, etc. However, they also cause pollution and are dangerous.

What are your thoughts? What’s the trade-off? Do cities do too much for car-owning citizens and not enough for everyone else, or should car owners be allowed certain concessions?

Hundreds of new bike parking spots will be added to downtown parking garages, all within walking distance of the KFC Yum Center (the new arena).

Broken Sidewalk has a map and more information:

Dirk Gowin, Transportation Planning Administrator with Bike Louisville, says the city plans to add a total of 262 new bike parking spaces within a ten minute walk of the arena and 46 more within a 15-minute walk. These 308 new spaces will bring the total number of bike parking spots within a 15-minute walk of the arena to 630.


Originally, the plan was to have all the bike racks in place for the opening of the arena, but a small hitch came up: PARC was concerned about the color of the bike racks. Yep, that’s right… the color. Originally, the city purchased three green staple racks to be installed in the garages, but PARC was worried the green would clash with the blue it uses for garage signs. Because, you know, it would have thrown off the entire feng shui of the parking garage aesthetic.

Don’t worry, the denied green racks won’t go to waste. One has already been installed at the Bluegrass Brewing Company on Theater Square to help out with planned BBC Bike Nights. (Any suggestions where two other 5-staple racks might be useful Downtown?)

By locating these bike racks in parking garages, Bike Louisville hopes to increase the security and convenience of bike parking. Besides being sheltered from the weather, the bike racks will be located within view of the parking attendant, so there will be bike rack supervision most times (depending on the garage).

Louisville isn’t the only city facing tolls. And Louisville’s anti-toll activists may not be the most active out there. CN2 has a rundown of which other cities where tolls are being discussed.

But opposition to the Ohio River Bridges Project isn’t just about tolls…there’s the downtown interstate (and larger interchange) side as well. What are other cities doing about urban interstates? Well, New Orleans could be getting rid of one.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu said last week that he’s open to consider a proposal to remove a two-mile elevated stretch of I-10 from the city. I-10 is accused of (in Robert Moses-style) splitting a minority neighborhood.

Construction in the 1960s of the elevated interstate, particularly the stretch that towers over North Claiborne Avenue, has been blamed for cleaving a wide swath of once-thriving residential and commercial communities and forcing scores of businesses owned by African-American entrepreneurs to shut down.

Amid looming maintenance expenses and a new national focus on urban renewal, experts have suggested removing the Claiborne Expressway from the Pontchartrain Expressway to Elysian Fields Avenue. Traffic would be diverted on surface streets or along Interstate 610.

The proposal is part of New Orleans’ new master plan, a dense document designed to spell out planning priorities for the next two decades. The City Council is expected to consider the final version next month.

The elevated stretch of I-10 “gave people more impetus to bypass the city than to stay in it,” Landrieu said. Tearing it down, he said, could attract new residents and businesses, a goal most mayors try to achieve by building new infrastructure.

Soon, TARC will have 21 hybrid buses on the streets.

Nine new hybrids will be unveiled this week. TARC has recently reduced service due to revenue shortfalls, but as LEO points out, most of the new buses are federally-funded, and all of them will save  money.

The funding for seven of the new buses were funded through stimulus dollars and two from a variety of federal and state sources. The hybrids are silver with a new butterfly design that compliments the metallic silver with red, white and blue decal design that was introduced last year.

The new fleet will be unveiled July 9, at the pavilion in Shawnee Park by Mayor Jerry Abramson, who will be joined by U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-KY, Kentucky Transportation Service Delivery Director Vickie Bourne and TARC executive director Barry Barker.

The buses cost $558,000 apiece and are better for the environment, more fuel efficient, easier to maintain and smoother to ride than TARC older diesel-fueled buses. TARC officials say the new buses bring many benefits including:

Improving air quality and emissions reduced

Oxides of Nitrogen (NOx) – 61% less

Particulate Matter (PM) – 93% less

Carbon Monoxide (CO) – 90% less

Hydrocarbons (HC) – 21% less

Reducing energy consumption

Better fuel economy with an annual savings of 3,000 gallons per bus

High Mechanical performance

Fewer brake repairs necessary

Sixteen times fewer transmission fluid changes required

No major mechanical errors

Printed maps of Louisville bike routes are complete and can be picked up at these locations. Has anyone seen one of the maps? Are they accurate? After all, there can be dangers in trusting instructions too much.

With travel season picking up, the Daily Beast has put together a list of the nation’s deadliest highways. Interstate 65 in Kentucky holds the 37 spot, less deadly than New York’s 1-95, but slightly more dangerous than I-19 in Arizona.

#37, I-65

In-state miles: 137.32
Fatal accidents: 111
Fatal accidents per mile: .81
Total fatalities: 135

It seems like someone could run a pretty active blog by only posting national publications’ lists that include Kentucky or Louisville. Since there isn’t such a blog (yet), I’ll post this older link about Louisville being ranked the 5th most sluggish city in the country.

What other lists would you like to (or not like to) see Kentucky or Louisville make?

Is your neighborhood livable? The U.S. Department of Transportation says it wants to create livable communities, but doesn’t exactly define the phrase. Though in a USDOT report, livable is probably a technical term, with a different definition than laypeople might assume. The Infrastructurist is on the case, though, and has this:

Always ready to shed light on vague transportation language, Secretary Ray LaHood came forward to clarify the term as follows: “Livability,” he said, “means being able to take your kids to school, go to work, see a doctor, drop by the grocery or post office, go out to dinner and a movie, and play with your kids in a park, all without having to get in your car.”

So what we’re talking about here is car-less (or “extreme car-light”) living in dense urban neighborhoods. Which, given the gradual movement towards urban environments, isn’t a pipe dream. But it does present a pretty drastic change to millions of Americans who have come to associate “freedom” and a high quality of life with suburban communities, cul-de-sacs, and above all, cars. As for how the administration plans to achieve this urban-based vision of “livability,” the Plan states the DOT will:

• Establish an office within the Office of the Secretary to promote coordination of livability and sustainability in Federal infrastructure policy;
• Give communities the tools and technical assistance they need so that they can develop the capacity to assess their transportation systems, plan for needed improvements, and integrate transportation and other community needs;
• Work through the Partnership for Sustainable Communities to develop broad, universal performance measures that can be used to track livability across the Nation as well as performance measures that capture local circumstances; and
• Advocate for more robust State and local planning efforts, create incentives for investments that demonstrate the greatest enhancement of community livability based on performance measures, and focus transportation spending in a way that supports and capitalizes on other infrastructure investment, both public and private.

All of which seems like a fancy way of saying, “We need more public transportation, but we’re not entirely sure how to build it.”

Is your community livable? Do you want it to be?

In case you missed it, the TARC trolleys will be free this summer. Fares were first imposed on the trolleys in 2004, and TARC executive director Barry Barker says ridership dropped as a result.

Various downtown businesses and development organizations have come together to sponsor the trolleys through the summer, in a deal Barker says is mutually beneficial. The goal, he says, is to shrink downtown; to make it easier for pedestrians to go from the Brown to the Belvedere to the Slugger Museum to Slugger Field. Barker hopes the trolleys will tie together businesses along the routes, and the businesses putting up the money to sponsor the trolleys probably share that hope.

If the plan works in the short term, Barker says TARC and the other partners in the pilot program will try to secure more sponsorships to keep the trolleys free.

But what about the buses? I asked Barker last week whether sponsorships could be the key to TARC’s future. The cash-strapped authority has little option but to reduce service when budgets get tight, and Barker seems eager to find a solution. He told me small governments across the country have to find new ways to fund public transportation–fares and occupational taxes aren’t cutting it. He said he would be happy to have a conversation with anyone who would like to sponsor TARC, but right now, sponsorships will only cover the trolleys.

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