Tuesday, April 23

Kentucky Walk Bike Summit Wrap-Up

Ah, blessed distractions!  It’s been a long couple of weeks.  I got too far behind.  So here is, finally, ten days after the fact, my summation of the 2013 Kentucky Walk Bike Summit:

I am now familiar with the Kentucky Bicycle & Bikeway Commission.  It was created in 1992 by the state legislature and it is tasked to:

  • represent the interests of bicyclists in advising the Secretary of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet on all matters pertaining to the use, extent, and location of bicycles and bikeways
  • assist the bicycle and bikeway program in the exercise of its duties within the Cabinet, and
  • promote the best interests of the bicycling public, within the context of the total transportation system, to governing officials and the public at large. (KRS 174.125(3)(a)-(c))

I have a better understanding of the efforts of the Kentucky Rails-to-Trail Council, and I’m really excited about the opening of the Dawkins Line(not up to date, but according to one presenter half of the Dawkins Line should be open this spring).
Kentucky Trail Towns is a growing phenomenon and one that will apparently be a model for other states.  There is definitely some local (hometown) relevance.
The Kentucky Century Challenge has grown out of proportion and has far exceeded the interest level expected by those who conceived it.  And because of one little free jersey they believe that registration for the participating events has exploded.  The Redbud Ride’s sixth year saw an increase from 770 registered last year to 1,100 this year (and only 28 the inaugural year!).
A couple in Midway came up with and implemented a way to relieve your bladder while riding around rural Scott County.  It’s a program called Bluegrass Bike Partner, and in the spirit of Bicycle Friendliness they have gotten local businesses, organizations, and citizens to participate and to allow the use of their restrooms to cyclists and also for some to provide toolkits, spare tubes, and pumps free of charge. It’s a pretty amazing idea and I want to try and recreate it in my neck of the woods.
Andy Clarke of the League of American Bicyclists gave a talk in the morning on the opening day and then he presented a few other sessions along the way.  During a very robust discussion during his Forming and Sustaining Advocacy Groups session I began to get the sense that most of the discussers were unknowingly hinting around that the state needs a state-wide citizen advocacy group.  But no one was saying it.  Finally, I couldn’t take my inner tension any longer, I threw up my hand.  When Andy acknowledged me I turned to the group and said: “Pardon, my ignorance, I’ve been out of the state for five years, but is there a state-wide advocacy group?”  Brief silence, followed by a resounding “NO!”
“Well, then, from what I’m hearing, I think that is exactly what we need.”
I got a “hear, hear” and a few other positive acknowledgments and I think now is the time to pursue that line of dialogue on a greater scale.  Kentucky needs a citizen advocacy group similar to Bicycle Colorado.  It has the KBBC, and it has KyMBA, and it has a lot of local and regional clubs, but it has no group that strictly advocates to state lawmakers on behalf of Kentuckian cyclists.  We need Bicycle Kentucky if we’re ever going to have any kind of progressive bicycle legislation and recognition.
That was the meat and potatoes of the summit.  There were some great breakout sessions.  Troy Hearn is as sexy in person as he is on facebook and does a great talk on mountain biking opportunities in the state.  Mark Fenton and Andy Clarke were phenomenal.  And it was also really beneficial to hear from bike interests all over the state, and see what great progress has been done in the last few years in the bike-ped world in my home state.  I just can’t wait for the next statewide summit!
To close, I just want to share a few quotes, ideas, and resources:
“Transportation is about people and places.”

Free range kids

Last Child in the Woods by Louv

Childhood obesity less about TV and video games and more about chauffeuring.
Exercise opportunities must be easily accessible to residential areas.
At the next summit we need more law enforcement and more local officials.  Pulaski County Judge Executive Barty Bullock got applause when he introduced himself during the Forming and Sustaining Advocacy Groups session. 

And finally, while the term was used only a very few times, “sustainability” was not a buzzword, but the recurring themes of the summit most definitely resounded of a need for more sustainable activity in the state.  We need more social justice everywhere, we need more local economic health, and we need more focus on reducing our impact on the environment we live in within the Bluegrass State.


1 comment:

  1. I like it, but I'm afraid our tendency to run words together might only be exacerbated by eliminating yet another hard syllable from the conversation. I think I want my fellow Kentuckians to be encouraged to enunciate more, not less :)

    I would also be concerned that people would see the name in print and think it would be a group of sexually curious people. That could be mitigated by printing it BIKEntucky. We might end up losing the "n" though.

    A friend on twitter suggested BikeNtucky.

    No, seriously, I do like that idea. What other state could incorporate the word "bike" into the name of the state?