Fayette County

Lexington to develop master trail, bike lane plan

A cyclist rode in the bike lane on Alumni Drive in Lexington on Jan. 14. The city has a federal grant to interconnect its bike trails and bike lanes.
A cyclist rode in the bike lane on Alumni Drive in Lexington on Jan. 14. The city has a federal grant to interconnect its bike trails and bike lanes. palcala@herald-leader.com

Lexington has nearly 50 miles of bike lanes on city streets and nearly 30 miles of shared-use trails.

Now the city wants to connect its trail and bicycle lanes into a unified system as well as plan for new bicycle lanes and trails in coming years. Through the Lexington-area Metropolitan Planning Organization, Fayette County received a $160,000 grant late last year to develop an updated bike and pedestrian plan. The $160,000 will be matched with $50,000 in local money for a total budget of $210,000.

Planning Commissioner Derek Paulsen said the plan will take about 12 months to develop and will be ready in the spring of 2017 before the Urban County Council passes its budget.

“This will provide us with a road map for the future,” Paulsen said of the plan. “It will show us how we can connect various sections of trails and bike lanes and then break them down into manageable parts.”

In the next 12 months, the city will begin building more than eight miles of shared-use trails that are part of the Legacy and Town Branch trails and Town Branch Commons. The Brighton trail recently received money for the construction of a bridge. By the time those trail sections are built, the new pedestrian and bike plan will be ready, Paulsen said.

Most of the money for those new trail sections has come from federal transportation grants through the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. Having a concrete plan with a ranked priority list will help Fayette County get more grant money in the future, Paulsen said. It will also help city leaders when they are developing the city’s annual budget.

The last bike and pedestrian master plan was completed in 2007, said Scott Thompson, a transportation planner and bicycle and pedestrian coordinator for the Metropolitan Planning Organization.

In 2007, Fayette County only had 18 miles of bike lanes. It now has 46.5 miles of bike lanes on city streets.

“We’ve made a lot of great strides,” Thompson said. “But a lot has changed.”

More people are using the city’s bike lanes, Thompson said. People see the health benefits of riding rather than driving.

But many people are still afraid to ride on city streets, according to data. Developing “low-stress facilities” or bike lanes that have more separation from vehicle traffic might encourage more people to travel by two wheels rather than four, Thompson said.

“We recognize that in order to get people out of their cars we have to provide facilities for those folks that are interested but are concerned about their safety,” Thompson said.

In addition to incorporating new designs for on-street bike lanes and developing a plan to connect the city’s trails and bike lanes, the updated plan will also look at updating signs on the city’s trail and bike lanes.

A request for proposals for a consultant to develop the new plan will be issued soon. There will be plenty of opportunity for public input either through public meetings or social media outreach in coming months, Thompson said.

“We want a clear, concise capital infrastructure list that will be phased out over a specific time period, whether that be over five or 10 years,” Thompson said.

Beth Musgrave: 859-231-3205, @HLCityhall