2019 Excellence in Regional Transportation Award
Cumberland Valley Area Development District
City of Williamsburg, Kentucky Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan
“One of the most important and simplest things a person can do to improve their health is just move and it starts with the first step.”Katharine Lay, Whitley County Health Educator
As NADO prepares for the 2020 Excellence in Regional Transportation Awards, we’re featuring a snapshot of a 2019 award-winning project, the City of Williamsburg, Kentucky’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan, along with other bicycle, pedestrian, and wayfinding initiatives underway in the Cumberland Valley Area Development District. Even though group walks are not scheduled during this time of social distancing, cycling and walking for exercise is valued—perhaps now more than ever—as an opportunity for health, recreation, and transportation. In the Cumberland Valley region, maps, online information, and planning for a comprehensive wayfinding program in Corbin are examples of ways that communities of all sizes can take steps to improve the active transportation experience for residents and visitors!
The Cumberland Valley ADD serves the counties of Bell, Clay, Harlan, Jackson, Knox, Laurel, Rockcastle, and Whitley in eastern Kentucky. Williamsburg, in Whitley County, has a population of 5,245, and is located adjacent to the I-75 corridor. Williamsburg’s plan highlights several biking and walking events in addition to an analysis of existing conditions and recommended facilities improvements. Each event is promoted through a tailored brochure that explains event details and provides a walking map of the city. The brochures serve a two-fold purpose of encouraging event participation and providing all the information walkers need to explore downtown Williamsburg on their own. Walking events have included programs where residents could join the mayor on a one-mile walk and provide public input into Williamsburg’s walking and biking environment. Other themed walks include “Talk the Walk with Doc”, “Mothers Walking the Burg”, “Pink Out Breast Cancer Walk”, “Beat the Heat Run” and “Turkey Trot.”
Williamsburg’s proposed projects include completion of sidewalks, multi-use paths, improvements to existing sidewalks to include Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) upgrades, painting crosswalks, and adding signs. In a pre-planning survey, 84.9 percent of respondents indicated that they would consider traveling more on foot or bike to work, shopping, or other trips (compared to driving a car) if they had a better way to do so. Survey respondents identified insufficient sidewalks, no bike lanes, high traffic areas, insufficient signage, and concern for safety as reasons for not walking more.
The Whitley County Health Department is an active partner in creating the walking brochures and maps. Brochures are branded with the name of the walking event, and each contains a map that spotlights city landmarks such as public buildings, churches, and businesses significant to central Williamsburg. The mileage between landmarks is noted in the brochure and the total route is one mile in length.
Events such as the Pink Out Breast Cancer Walk list the date and time of the event, location, and the names and credentials of the walk leaders. In the case of the cancer walk, local health practitioners lead the walk and answer questions along the way.
Other communities in the region are also using maps to encourage walking and fitness, including the City of London in Laurel County. London’s Parks & Recreation Department features several bicycle and walking trail loop maps on its website. The city’s park listings include a description of facilities, photos of park features, a map, and the mileage of each loop. Laurel County’s Health Department promotes physical activity for four county parks (including some featured on the City of London website) and one on the county’s health department campus. Each park map is clickable and printable.
Brochure and web maps are only one example of how the walking experience is changing in the Cumberland Valley. The City of Corbin—located approximately 17 miles north of Williamsburg—prepared a Downtown Complete Streets Scoping & Wayfinding Study in 2018. Concepts focus on three primary streets in downtown Corbin with the purposes of improving safety of bicycle and pedestrian circulation, creating slower vehicle movements through traffic calming, lane reductions, wayfinding, enhancing the visual aspects and appeal of the corridors, and enhancing access to businesses to stimulate economic vitality in the community. Bike lanes, parking, landscaping, bump outs, and crosswalk enhancements are considerations for Main Street and Kentucky Avenue, downtown Corbin’s one-way pair. Branded wayfinding signage is part of the recommended improvements, with destination information available beginning as soon as drivers exit I-75 to enter Corbin.
“In completing the Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plans, it was viable to work with key partners in the community such as the Whitley County Health Department, tourism, downtown Main Street coordinators, and city council members. Your citizens will help lead the direction of your plan as they indicate problem areas and perhaps offer solutions to address those issues,” said Jessica Blankenship Cumberland Valley ADD Regional Planner. “We found out that many people were in need of ADA-compliant sidewalks to travel to work, grocery shopping, school, childcare facilities, medical appointments, and much more. In the city of Corbin, we utilized social media as the mayor requested photos of pedestrians and bicyclists in a particular area. As a result, we were able to tell a story through photos of all ages, races, and abilities and how they are impacted by the lack of sidewalks in certain areas. Having a strong plan helps your community to show areas that need improvement to apply for funding.”
Learn more about the walking initiatives of the Cumberland Valley by visiting the Bike and Pedestrian Plans page of the Cumberland Valley ADD’s website. Thanks to Jessica Blankenship and Katharine Lay for sharing information on how Williamsburg, London, and Corbin are helping pedestrians map their walks!
Click here to download a PDF version of this Award Snapshot.
Read a July 2020 Times-Tribune article on the City of Corbin Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan.
Written by Rachel Beyerle, NADO Program Manager.