This post was originally created as a discussion on our new Bicycles of the Barrens Facebook page at this link. It is reposted here for those who do not yet use Facebook.
Anyone who has occasion to drive around the south side of Glasgow on a school day between 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. knows it is time to start the discussion that we created the Bicycles of the Barrens group to conduct. It is time to discuss the need for a master cycling/jogging/walking route plan and the need to secure a commitment from local governments for annual funding for the plan. Nearly every day when the schools are in session, the southern end of the 31E Bypass is just as gridlocked as a southern California freeway. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of vehicles destined to and from WKU Glasgow, the Barren County HS/Trojan Academy Campus, South Green Elementary, Red Cross Elementary, Christian Academy, and Glasgow Montessori all seem to be delivering one child at a time. As a result, traffic is totally locked up between the many traffic signals that exist within a half mile radius of South Gate Shopping Center. This is a wasteful, dangerous, exasperating mess and it repeats itself again later in the afternoon when schools release students and every day when school is in session.
If we had a simple network of cycling/jogging lanes that connect the schools, parks, and residential areas, as well as connecting to the new Veterans Outer Loop, we might have the foundation of a solution. Parking in outlying areas along the cycling lanes might encourage students to drive in with bicycles on racks, park in the outlying lots, and ride in to schools and work. The schools might provide incentives for students arriving and departing on bicycles or on foot. Maybe, just maybe, some of the students who are determined to live a sustainable lifestyle might begin to arrive on bicycles and maybe the idea might catch on. Stranger things have happened, right?
If you look at a map of Glasgow, it is notable that the new Outer Loop will intersect all routes into Glasgow from the westernmost to the easternmost extremes of the city. Beginning in front of South Green Elementary, South Fork Creek similarly runs all the way to an intersection with the new Outer Loop to the east. If we built a multi-use pathway along that scenic creek from South Green to the Outer Loop. Then if we got the Transportation Cabinet to use the broad shoulders of the new loop to paint a bicycle lane all the way around from that point to its eventual intersection with KY 1297 on the west side of Glasgow (and if we could convince the city and county to maintain that pathway by simply sweeping and vacuuming it regularly), we would have a nearly 20 mile loop around the community complete with the exception of a missing segment on the south west side of town. Eventually, Cleveland Avenue will need to be rebuilt from the Bypass to the new Loop, and it can be planned and built with a cycling lane, completing a dream alternate transportation/fitness system around our community. This would benefit our happiness relative to transportation snarls and make a great impact on our overall health, by encouraging us to walk, jog and cycle.
Then if we complete the aforementioned system of internal spokes to that "wheel" with a variety of painted lanes and improved sidewalks over the years we will develop a real cycling/jogging infrastructure capable of actually relieving traffic pressure on many of our existing roadways. With that network in place, 15,000 people will have access, and the option of walking or cycling for 90% of their trips to run local errands of three miles or less (which happens to be what most trips in town actually are). If we got our local governments to commit something like 5% of the existing budget for construction and maintenance of the roadway network, we could have this system totally in place in a few years.
What do you say? Ready to start advocating during this year's budget cycle?