This year's Second Sunday event will offer a preview of what planners propose as the design for finishing Lexington's popular Legacy Trail: a two-way path along Fourth Street separated from automobile traffic.
The free public event is 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, beginning at the corner of West Sixth and Jefferson Streets, at the Bread Box building and Coolavin Park. Festivities will include kids' activities, but the main event will be bike riding, running, walking and skating on a coned-off lane on the south side of Fourth Street for 1.6 miles between there and the Isaac Murphy Art Garden under construction at East Third Street and Midland Avenue.
Eight miles of the Legacy Trail between the Northside YMCA and the Kentucky Horse Park were finished in 2010. But bringing the trail into town has been more complicated. The city secured $2.4 million in federal transportation funds to finish the trail, but it has taken time to work out all the details of bringing it into town.
Keith Lovan, a city engineer who oversees trail projects, said the cheapest and safest way to extend the trail across the Northside is what is known as a two-way cycle track on the street, separated from car and truck traffic by flexible posts.
To make room for the 10-foot-wide cycle track, on-street parking would be eliminated. Each car lane would still be 12 to 14 feet wide.
Sunday's ride will extend to Shropshire Avenue, but Lovan said Elm Tree Lane and Race Street also are being considered as ways to connect the Legacy Trail along Fourth Street to the art garden trailhead.
A citizens advisory committee of about 30 people has been mulling this design and other Legacy Trail issues. Detailed work will be done this winter and construction is to begin in the spring.
Lovan expects some controversy, because some on-street parking will be lost and because adding the trail will make street entry and exit from some driveways a little more complicated for drivers.
"I expect we'll start hearing some of that Sunday," Lovan said of the Second Sunday event, when the trail will be marked off with orange cones. "We intend for this to reflect what the cycle track will look like."
The hardest part of finishing the Legacy Trail, he said, "will be getting the support to do this. We've had a lot of stakeholder meetings already." Public meetings will be scheduled later this fall, and planners are going door-to-door talking with residents and businesses on affected streets, Lovan said.
The only other Lexington trail that uses this design is the short section of the Legacy Trail on the bridge over New Circle Road. In addition to cost-savings and improved safety, Lovan said, the two-way cycle track design has been shown in other cities to increase bicycle usage.
"These have been introduced across the country with great success," said Lovan, who oversaw design and construction of the rest of the Legacy Trail. "It provides the user a little more security. You don't feel like you're riding in traffic. But it's more of a visual barrier than a protective barrier."
I have ridden on cycle track in several American and European cities, and it feels safer for both cyclists and automobile drivers, because they are separated from each other.
When this is finished, there will be only one section of the original Legacy Trail left to do: a short connection between Jefferson Street and the YMCA. Lovan said the city has acquired an old rail line for part of that and is negotiating with the Hope Center to complete the connection. He expects that to be done next year.
The Legacy Trail demonstration marks the seventh year Lexington has participated in Second Sunday, a statewide effort to use existing built infrastructure to promote exercise and physical activity. In most communities, that has meant closing a street for a few hours so people can bike, walk, run or skate there.
The University of Kentucky's Cooperative Extension Service started Second Sunday and has coordinated activities. The service plans to do several Second Sunday events next year, depending on grant funding, said spokeswoman Diana Doggett.
"We have a community that is willing and interested," she said. "We just have to nudge that along."