Bicycling infrastructure in Louisville has seen limited progress in recent years, marked by both positive and negative changes, albeit with some concerning developments in the past year such as the shuttering of the city’s bike share program. Meanwhile our neighbors in Southern Indiana have been building more protected bike infrastructure than us. Despite ongoing efforts, such as the planned projects to enhance biking convenience, the city has faced delays and slow implementation, exemplified by the long-awaited redesign of East Market since 2012.

Protected Bike Infrastructure in Louisville

The city of Louisville has a bit over 1000 residents that consistently commute by bike according to the American Community Survey’s five-year average for 2021, while the 2022 one-year average shows it could be as low as 502 cycling commuters. This is equivalent to about one quarter of one percent of commuters on the high end. A significant barrier to many adopting biking as a consistent commuting method is perception of safety, any local biker will likely tell you how this city is very much not accommodated for their use outside of recreational paths. Nationally, biking to work is actually on the decline as car-dependence and work from home takes center stage and Louisville is not bucking this trend.

I wrote a piece several months ago about the safety of cycling in Louisville using crash data between 2018 and 2022. Now that 2023 data is fully available, it can be used to see where cycling was the most dangerous in Louisville last year. 

Click here to view the above map in a separate window

The number of reported bike-car collisions in Louisville in 2023 was 94, an increase of 36% compared to 2022 and a fifth of the number of estimated bike commuters in 2022. Two of these collisions resulted in deaths, which is actually one less than last year despite the increase in overall collisions. The most dangerous roads weren’t very different from past years, with the top three being Broadway, Dixie Highway, and Fourth Street.

Design likely plays an important role here, as none of the most dangerous roads provide bike lanes. 61% of collisions occurred on roads without bike lanes, including both fatalities. Many of the most dangerous roads are wide arterials that fit the definition of a stroad, trying to be both a street and a road:

“a mash-up of these two types of paths. We like to call them "the futon of transportation" because, just as a futon is neither a particularly good bed nor a particularly good couch, a stroad is neither a particularly good road or a particularly good street.” - Charles Marohn

Broadway and Dixie Highway are two infamous examples of this within Louisville, the former being known for being a drag strip at parts and the latter being nicknamed “Dixie Dieway”. These roads are vital arterials that can be hard to avoid if you are commuting to certain areas; anyone biking downtown from the south will have to cross Broadway or take a long route around it. Some of these dangerous roads are planned to undergo redesigns, Broadway All The Way is hopefully going to start construction soon and Fourth Street is expected to get a “reimagining”. 

Broadway streetscape

As it stands, safety is one of the most significant barriers preventing greater adoption of cycling for commuting to work. Within Louisville, there are numerous densely populated routes where commuting by bike is perfectly feasible. Essentially, anyone residing and working within I-264 could commute by bike relatively simply, what lacks is the infrastructure to make that journey safe and convenient.