In order for the mission of Streets for People to be achieved, certain policy and structural reforms are needed within Louisville Metro Government and the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
The reforms prioritized by Streets for People are outlined below:
Speed Hump Policy
Louisville Metro’s current speed hump policy is difficult to navigate and an extremely burdensome process for citizens.
- Requests for speed humps are considered only on a block-by-block basis, not for streets or neighborhoods as a whole.
- The policy requires that more than 70% of adjacent property owners approve a change before it will be considered.
- Roads where a majority of the homes are multifamily homes are not eligible for speed humps.
These requirements are socially inequitable, favoring streets with more affluent homeowner over those with lower income renters. Additionally, they’re totally unnecessary.
Louisville should follow the lead of cities like Detroit and Cincinnati, where the governments have simplified the speed hump policy and request process. These changes have made traffic calming easier to implement for both the cities and their citizens.
All-Way Stop Policy
The MUTCD’s policy for all-way stops lists two circumstances where stop signs shall be installed and four other criteria where a stop signs may be installed. Currently, the City only implements all-way stops under the two “required” criteria and rarely implements them under the “optional” criteria.
This should change. The four “optional” criteria — where all-way stops are allowed but not required — include common sense implementations such as “an intersection of two residential neighborhood streets”, “locations where a road user cannot see conflicting [oncoming] traffic”, and intersections “near locations that generate high pedestrian volumes”.
The two “required” criteria are sensible and appropriate — they are for intersections where crashes are common and intersections with medium-volume traffic volumes. However, the “optional” criteria implementations are just as sensible and appropriate.
Louisville Metro Government should enact a policy stating that intersections meeting the “optional” criteria will receive an all-way stop at the request of neighbors, except under extraordinary circumstances.
Louisville Metro Department of Transportation (DOT)
Cities across the US have created Departments of Transportation (DOT’s) in recent years. DOT’s serve two primary functions: (1) they set clear priorities, and (2) they coordinate complex projects amongst internal and external agencies.
Louisville Metro Government has struggled in both regards in recent years. There is a disconnect on priorities. Goals set by one department are not respected and adhered to by other Metro departments.
More problematically, the projects the City has funded are not getting completed. As of fall 2022, for instance, fully funded projects to convert downtown streets to two-way and redesign Market St to be more bike/ped friendly have not even started. Unfortunately, many more examples exist where the City has been unable to coordinate and implement projects.
We propose that the City create a DOT to address these issues. A DOT would look at transportation holistically — considering long range planning, engineering restraints, parking needs, and transit viability, among other factors — and set a clear path forward. Additionally, the DOT would work to see that projects made their way to completion — starting with realistic budgets and ending with cooperative interagency coordination.
Automated Traffic Enforcement
Automated traffic enforcement refers to on-street cameras that are setup to record traffic violations such as speeding or running red lights. Currently, the legality of automated traffic enforcement in Jefferson County and in the Commonwealth of Kentucky is under dispute.
We support efforts to resolve the questions of legality and to use this technology to enforce traffic violations. Cities and states across the US have implemented traffic cameras, and they’ve been shown to reduce violations. Furthermore, they prevent incidents where police officers come into personal conflict with citizens — a tactic that improves safety in another important way.
Both Louisville and Kentucky should follow the lead of other governments. We should move forward with legalizing and installing automated traffic enforcement
SHIFT Scoring for KYTC Projects
The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) allocates hundreds of millions of dollars every year for highway projects. Projects under consideration for implementation are scored according to the state’s SHIFT formula.
Currently, the criteria for projects are scored according to five attributes: (1) safety, (2) asset management, (3) congestion, (4) economic growth, and (5) cost/benefit. In practice, this formula primarily rewards road expansion/widening projects — for instance, the $180 million I-Move Kentucky Project — and not much else.
We propose that the scoring system needs to include pedestrian safety, multimodal accessibility, and traffic calming. With the state scoring system considering these factors, Louisville will begin to see investment from KYTC that begins to match many of the urban transportation goals it has set for itself over many decades.
The City’s Air Pollution Control District currently offers cash rebates to residents who purchase electric lawn equipment — push mowers, leaf blowers, lawn trimmers, etc. The goal is to incentivize residents to move away from gasoline-powered equipment and lessen the local impacts of air pollution.
The APCD should extend this rebate to e-bikes. Many cities across the US (Denver, for example) have begun offering financial incentives to their citizens for investing in e-bikes. Louisville should join them in promoting healthier lifestyles and healthier air quality.
Roadway Modernization Fund
In recent years, Louisville has invested hundreds of millions of dollars into repaving city streets. During much of the Fischer administration (2010-2022), the Capital Projects Budget for Public Works focused on fixing decades of deferred maintenance of our city’s basic transportation infrastructure.
The City has a similar deferred maintenance need to address with its system of traffic signals. They are running on technology that is decades out of date and incapable of syncing with modern, smart technologies.
Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) will be a bedrock for urban mobility in the decades to come, and they will enhance both efficiency and safety foe all road users. ITS technologies include red light cameras, transit signal prioritization, and traveler information systems for smartphones.
Louisville needs to start investing in these systems now by creating a Roadway Modernization Fund.