City plans to improve biker, pedestrian facilities

Colton Turley, a student at WKU, adjusts the brakes on a vintage road bike in his shop underneath the Office for Sustainability on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017. Turley is the mechanic for the Big Red Bike’s program, which repurposes abandoned bikes on campus into rental bikes for students.

Callie Miller

WKU sophomore Matthew Kline, 20, rides his bike every day, whether it’s to Preston Center, class or a friend’s house. In the fall of 2015, he had a class on South Campus and always took the greenway from class back to his dorm.

The route he took is longer than a motor vehicle route because there are no bike lanes going back to campus. One day in October, Kline unexpectedly saw a car stop in the middle of the greenway by Daymar College. He didn’t have time to brake and ended up landing on the roof of the car. 

Though Kline survived the collision without a scratch, his bicycle was not so lucky. The frame broke and the bike was left beyond repair.

“If I was on a bike lane, it wouldn’t have happened,” Kline said.

The Bowling Green-Warren County Metropolitan Planning Organization is working to improve Bowling Green’s transportation routes for pedestrians and bikers.

The Metropolitan Planning Organization hired Robert P. Murphy Transportation Consultants to organize a multi-modal implementation plan. The Metropolitan Planning Organization does a study every year on Bowling Green transportation, and when the staff realized much of the public’s feedback regarded biking and walking, they decided to do a study solely on bicycle and pedestrian facilities.

One of the top desires of respondents from past surveys is to have more places to bike and walk, including more greenways, which are walking and biking trails.

Currently, there are gaps in the greenways, and Miranda Clements, greenways coordinator, said people expressed the desire for those to be connected as well. She hopes with more bike lanes and sidewalks, people will find easier ways to get to their destinations.

The Metropolitan Planning Organization posted a survey online last week to get the public’s input about the need for more or better bike/pedestrian facilities.

“This plan is going to look at all the opportunities and possibilities and come up with recommendations for what would be practical and implementable in Bowling Green,” Clements said.

Clements said she wants people to be able to safely walk and bike to school, work and other destinations. She said one of the areas of focus will be transportation to and from WKU’s campus for students and staff. Improvements could include more pedestrian signals on intersections, crossing signs, crosswalks and bike lanes.

“I’d like to see improved intersections to make it safer for bike and ped,” she said.

After a technical analysis, there will be a meeting sometime around April to inform the community about the plan and so people can express input on the plan.

Colton Turley, bike mechanic at Big Red Bikes on Regents Ave., doesn’t think Bowling Green is as well-equipped as it could be for pedestrians and bikers. He rides his bike almost every day, usually to campus and to his workplace on Scottsville Road.

Turley said WKU’s campus is a lot better, but other places in the community need work. He has been hit twice by cars while riding his bike. Turley thinks improvements could be made on Scottsville Road, Richardsville Road, Chestnut Street and downtown.

Kline said he would benefit from improvements on Campbell Lane and Nashville Road.

“There could always be more connectivity,” Kline said. 

Turley owns 32 bikes currently, including a double-decker bike he made himself. He encourages his friends to ride bikes with him and hopes to start a group to meet once or twice a month for a cookout and a group bike ride.

Clements rides her bike for recreation as well as to work sometimes, along with some of her coworkers. Other than having environmental benefits, walking and biking are also great exercise and can lead to a better, healthier life, she said. Robert P. Murphy Transportation Consultants will also look at the potential to increase landscaping to make Bowling Green more aesthetic for bikers and walkers.

Clements is from Australia and said she was surprised after her move to the United States because she was used to a community in which a lot of people walked and biked.

“A community built around cars is kind of ugly,” Clements said. “A community built around pedestrians and bikers is very nice.” 

Reporter Callie Miller can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected]edu.