May-June 2006 Newsletter
From the President
Louisville in the Limelight at LAB Summit
Louisville’s efforts to become a bicycle-friendly city were
recognized at the League of American Bicyclists Summit held in
Washington, DC, on March 1-3. Three LBC members — Barry Zalph,
Mohammad Nouri, who is also the Louisville Metro planner with
principal responsibility for transportation, and yours truly —
told the attendees about our February 2005 Bike Summit, the
creation of the Bicycle Task Force and the progress made to
implement the recommendations to build facilities and increase
Barry led off with a description of Louisville’s rich cycling
history and the more central role that cycling played in the
city’s history especially during the late 19th century. He also
described the more recent period when advocates were frustrated
by state and local officials’ indifference — and sometimes hostility
— to cycling issues despite national mandates to consider cycling
issues in transportation planning.
I followed with a review of the summit and actions taken by the
task force and gave the attendees my assessment of the four elements
that best guarantee success for improving cycling in a community,
all of which Louisville has enjoyed.
Political leadership – Increasing cycling opportunities is
easier, and can occur more quickly, if driven from the top. True,
grassroots advocacy can provide a constituency to sustain the momentum,
and also true that non-cycling leaders can get the facilities part
wrong, but I think the benefits that come from elected officials’
enthusiasm outweighs the risks.
Willing city agencies – The people who must translate the
enthusiasm into programs and facilities must want to do so, not just
because it’s their job. We’re lucky in Louisville to have people in
planning, public works and parks who actually get it and understand how
a bicycle-friendly city advances other goals like economic development
and smart population growth.
Organized,connected cyclists – That’s LBC. We are one of the
few bicycle clubs in the country with an advocacy program, which we
began in about 1991. It’s been a long learning curve. We have not always
been as effective as we would have liked and don’t have the technical
expertise that would enable us to be transportation consultants. But
what we have is numbers and members familiar with and comfortable dealing
with people who can advance our issues.
Volunteerism tradition – A tradition of volunteerism, high
levels of community involvement and boosterism, high per capita arts and
charitable giving make it easier for people to support civic improvement
goals such as making this a more bicycle-friendly town.
Mohammad Nouri wrapped up the presentation by describing Mayor
Abramson’s mandate to city departments and giving an overview of the
projects that have been implemented, planned and funded. The audience was
impressed that $84 million has been raised and committed to
cycling-related projects that will be built over the next ten years.
During the question period that followed most people wanted to know
how to use our bike summit model to create one in their communities.
The National Summit provided yet another opportunity to get the word
out about what we’re doing in Louisville. We need to take advantage of
every such opportunity. Nothing feeds success like being perceived as
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web posted: 5 May 2006
last updated: 10 May 2006