Back in June when we scooped this story, we suspected the city had a potential hit on its hands.
We were at the Highland Commerce Guild meeting when Michael King, one of Ted Smith’s bright young people at the city’s Advance Planning Dept., pitched an open-streets event called “CycLOUvia.”
The idea is inspired by ciclovia, Spanish for “bike path,” a concept from Colombia that temporarily closes streets to cars, opening them to bikers and pedestrians for a full day of healthy activities.
At the time, King emphasized this was a proposal, not a certainty. But our original post got a total of 155 Facebook likes, which we interpreted as an instant community approbation.
Now, city officials are all in. On Sunday, Oct. 14, a three-mile stretch of streets from Broadway down Baxter Avenue and Bardstown Road to the Douglass Loop will be closed to cars. The event will run through the East Broadway, Phoenix Hill and Original Highlands neighborhoods on the west into the heart of the Highlands.
CycLOUvia will put bikers in the fast lanes, and pedestrians in the outside lanes next to the curb for the three-mile stretch. Businesses are invited to bring out their goods to the street .
Police and volunteers at three intersections – Eastern Parkway, Grinstead Drive and Highland Avenue – will let cars through on a controlled bases, King said. Police will have devices that allow them to control traffic signals for optimal car crossings, cutting congestion.
There will be “activity nodes” at Douglass Loop, Mid City Mall, Eastern Parkway and Highland Avenue where people can gather for activities such as street dancing, King said.
City officials have three goals for CycLOUvia:
• To promote healthy lifestyles by getting people out and active.
• To promote more use of bicycles in the Highlands.
• To promote economic development by getting people out along one of Louisville’s major urban retail corridors. All business owners are encouraged to be open.
Initially, businesses owners were a bit cool to the CycLOUVia pitch.
“At first, their jaws hit the floor when we told the Highlands Commerce Guild members what we were thinking. Now, they think it’s a good idea, and we’ve talked most companies into opening.”
King said he’s making the rounds today including a stop at the new Urban Outfitters at Highland and Bardstown.
The goal is to draw Bardstown Road Aglow-sized crowds with a similar economic impact, “but with a very different feel to it,” King said.
The event will cost about $15,000, some of which is being raised on Kickstarter, and will take about 50 volunteers backing up police to pull off, he said.
So far, two businesses – The Dunkin’ Donut in the parking lot of the Mid City Mall and the Highlands Liquor store – have embraced the event. Dunkin’ Donut employees are planning on having inflatable bounce houses in the parking lot for kids, and the liquor store is planning outside service with karaoke.
“Which is ironic that these two businesses – donuts and a liquor store – are the ones really embracing this healthy-living event,” King said.