Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Louisville's "Mean Streets"

The Surface Transportation Policy Project (STPP) is described by today’s Louisville Courier-Journal as “a coalition trying to improve the nation's transportation system.”

The STTP is about to release a report entitled “Mean Streets,” in which it will be revealed that Louisville ranks as the 23rd (of 50) most dangerous area in the United States for pedestrians and cyclists.

Factors cited in the report include refrains familiar to anyone who walks or bikes frequently. More than half the roads in Louisville lack sidewalks. There are far too few dedicated bike lanes and paths, and far too many drivers with more attitude than skill.

I can attest to these problems, having cycled close to 3,000 miles the past two years in and around Louisville, New Albany and environs. Actually, it's seemed a bit better lately, as I haven't had garbage thrown at me from passing vehicles for more than two years.

Interestingly, the accompanying list reveals that almost two-thirds of the most dangerous cities are located in the “red” states of the former Confederacy.

Which prompts a thought, though certainly unoriginal: Are they called red states because of red necks?

Anyway, is this because of NASCAR’s deleterious influence on generations of southern exurbians? Or, perhaps there's a meteorological explanation in that the southern weather is more pleasant, so consequently there’s more walking and riding hours, and hence a higher rate of accidents.

One study dismisses the latter (see below for link), so I’m opting for the former, as it fits my prejudices much more comfortably.

On a different but related front, sociologist Richard Florida’s “creativity index,” which takes into account factors like diversity, high tech receptivity, innovation and diversity, ranks the Louisville metropolitan area 45th out of the 49 most populous American cities.

Oddly, many of the cities listed as most dangerous for walking and cycling still rank near the top of the creativity index.

Louisville finishes poorly in both, and this can only mean that it’s way past time for a good, stiff drink as we contemplate how far we must go.

The Courier’s article:
http://www.courier-journal.com/localnews/2004/12/01ky/A1-pedestrian1201-10683.html

STPP web site:
http://www.transact.org/

The more walkers and cyclists, the safer it is?
http://ip.bmjjournals.com/cgi/content/full/9/3/205

Richard Florida’s rankings:
http://www.creativeclass.org/regall.shtml

7 comments:

jon faith said...

Judged the title to infer a heartfelt commentary on the effusion of homicides in metro area. Guess i was wrong.

SocioSam said...

It was clear from the start that I was no longer in Louisville. Over seven days I spent nearly 20 hours walking the streets of Bethesda, Maryland and Washington, DC. I witnessed two cars run a red light, the same number I see in 20 minutes of walking in Louisville. I never saw a car speed up to beat the light. Most slowed and stopped on yellow. Rarely did a car block the pedestrian crosswalk.

I don’t know if the difference was because people in the liberal East are more considerate of others or because police actually ticket traffic offenders. On several occasions I have seen Louisville police ignore a car running a red light the officer must have seen. As I approach retirement age and my reactions slow, it is comforting to realize there are places where drivers are respectful of pedestrian rights.

Brandon W. Smith said...

Florida's ranking of Louisville is for the Louisville region that includes all of the surrounding counties in Indiana and Kentucky. If you want to see a map of this large area go here (I'm pretty sure they are the same...the RLCO might be a couple of counties larger):

http://www.rlco.org/index.html

So, while this skews the figures a bit, the region's creative index score is still depressing. However, I think it does point to the need for keeping an eye to regional development when we discuss New Albany. While I don't see or expect New Albany to become Austin, I do see a huge potential for it developing a distinct, attractive identity that adds to and compliments the Louisville region.

To return to the point of the thread, New Albany's "leadership" should be pressing hard for the completion of the Indiana waterfront project...that would be a wonderful addition for bikers and joggers, especially when the Big Four pedestrian/bike bridge is completed connecting both waterfronts. I need to do more homework to find out who needs pressuring.

edward parish said...

Even in mega traffic California, the drivers are still in some ways patient and courteous with others. The traffic in San Francisco can be congested at times but walkers and bikers seem to own the road as well. In Louisville it seems some drivers are out for points to see who can get the closest to bikers and pedestrians. True rudeness. Damn shame, Louisville has come so far, but needs more.

Brandon W. Smith said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Brandon W. Smith said...

Here is a recent story on the Ohio River Greenway project...looks like a little work will be started soon in NA.

http://www.courier-journal.com/localnews/2004/10/05in/B1-green10050-5226.html

(not sure how to post hyperlinks on here...cut and paste into browser if this doesn't link)

Brandon W. Smith said...

...and the main (although a bit dated) site here:

http://www.ohiorivergreenway.org/index.html