Riding the streets Day 12, November 28, 2010

Man, what a great post-Thanksgiving Sunday!  Got out and knocked some more off my goal of riding every street inside New Circle Road.

Rode the area west of Broadway and south of Red Mile, the Picadome area,  some of the neighborhoods along Mason Headley, as well as the areas on either side of Waller.  What a diverse ride.

This ride put me at least  85% toward complete on every street inside New Circle.  Last big chunks are Southland neighborhood area (used to live there, so I’ve saved it for last – rather explore new places…) and North Broadway and then some odds and ends, and then I’ll be done.

Ride:  1:24.  A little chilly when I started (37) but it was 42 when I got finished.  Really a nice temp.

Ride Quality.

Mason Headley Sucks.  Right up there with the worst riding street in Lexington.  Far too narrow, no shoulders, and a couple of morons whose testicles are too small. Everywhere else was a pretty quiet residential street.  Loved the connection through Addison Park between the neighborhoods off of South Broadway and the Pine Meadow neighborhood.

I’m fond of that neighborhood off South Broadway – does that area have a formal name? Mr Sweeper? Golfview, Addison, Devonshire, Pyke, Duncan…all nice little streets. (SEE COMMENTS FOR UPDATES – THANKS MR SWEEPER) Unique homes with lots of character.  We used to have a lot of small builders here, as evidenced by the varieties of homes.  Variety makes a greet street and a picturesque neighborhood. As we’ve seen however, little guys get eaten, and we get stuck with half-a-dozen “builders” who all build the same thing.

Then,  going through Addison Park, you enter the Pine Meadows neighborhood.  A little slice of California burbland right here in lil ole Lex.

I had relatives here – I used to think the driveway of this house was soooo steep when I was a little kid.

I played in this creek – Wolf Run – when I was a kid – getting crawdads and golf balls that had washed down from Big Elm Country Club.

The neighborhoods on the north side of Waller Ave are unique as well.  This neighborhood offers a glimpse of what Lexington would have been like in the early part of the 20th century, before the suburban ideal took hold.  While the neighborhood is rough around the edges, there is a certain charm here.  It’s very individualistic, yet with a community feel shown by the several tiny churches worked into the fabric.

Think architecture doesnt matter?  Take a look at this beaut on Legion Drive.  This is the kind of shit that gives density a bad name.  I’m not convinced that we will see much new building over the next few years – peak oil damaged economy and all – but we need design standards anyway.

I applaud the effort to bring new housing into our older neighborhoods.  And I’m sure this project serves and important need.  But the picture below shows nothing more than the fetish we have for single family housing (probably ’cause density around here is so ugly – see above).  But there could have been a much better way to accommodate the 8 new units on American Ave.  You can see the design confusion clearly.  In an effort to get cars out of the front yard – the public realm – which is great – we get houses that are one size too small.  To compensate, we add the little overhang giving the upstairs at least a little more room.  The obvious solution here would have been to have these be attached townhouse type units.  And instead of multiple  driveways, there could have been two access points at either end.  Less room for cars, more room for people.  Pretty simply isnt it? Plus by not having to complete an entire exterior on every unit, money could have been saved and put into front yard amenities.  History is clear:  places that have no soul don’t last. It doesnt matter what the intent was when we created them.

General Thoughts:

1.       More people should bike here.  There are so many great “back doors” that can be used to get to the key places.  Yeah, it’s a little hilly, and there are some sucky stretches, but all in all, Lexington could be a GREAT local biking town.

I think fear is one obstacle. Yet, I’ve found that the vast majority of drivers are considerate.  I’ve only had two serious run-ins, and then there’s the run of the mill jerk off who loves speeding up as they pass you, but all in all our fellow citizens are very courteous. I also think there’s a status hang up here – as in, “if people see me riding a bike they’ll wonder what’s wrong with me…”  Finally, I think it could be an issue of not realizing just how simple it really is to bike most places in this city.  For example, is there a map showing all the preferred bike routes – even if they aren’t “official”?  Are there enough bike racks at places?  We need to do a better job as a city to make people aware just how easy it really is to bike here.

2.      More people should bike here.  I’ll keep saying it.

3.      The Norfolk Southern Railroad track that runs roughly parallel to Nicholasville Road has really torn the urban fabric.  Neighborhoods and districts that are only a few feet apart are separated by miles of streets.  Rail will become much more important in the post peak world we are living in.  And I hope that we could get passenger rail back – one that stopped at several points in the city.  But we also ought to think about finding a way to get those tracks out of town and letting the rail bed serve as a bike superhighway.  We could reconnect neighborhoods, really encourage biking and walking, and overall repair a significant portion of our urban fabric.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Riding the streets Day 12, November 28, 2010

  1. Since you asked,

    The area around Addison and Devonshire would be the Gibson Park and Golfview Estates (wow, they really look like estate lots, don’t they?). It also included the site of the old Ingleside mansion.

    The POS on Legion is a replacement of a former apartment building that burned and really does look horrible. The new housing on American, if I recall correctly, is Habitat style housing and they only have a few styles that they use.

    The railroad track does not tear the fabric since it predates the subdivisions. It is part of the framework for the fabric. More than one of the ensuing developments has shown a proposed bridge connection or surface crossing that was never built. The railroad track itself was built(and is still owned) by the City of Cincinnati and leased to the Norfolk-Southern at the tune of about $8.5 million a year, which is approximately what it cost to build originally. Using it for any purpose other than heavy rail would be tricky, but not un-doable.

    Railroad tracks, high speed or otherwise, should go the center of cities and then passengers can be dispersed out to the final destinations.

    • Fantastic, Mr Sweeper, thanks
      Perhaps we could redo this ride next year with you as tour guide? You can add far more value than I – possible? We could do something for charity…..learning about lexington on a bike…been done?

  2. Aaron German

    Sweeper has got it right. But I think that “Gibson Park” and “Golfview Estates” are two names for the same area.

    Whatever you call it, this area would be a great area for doctors and professors to live, as it is an easy walk to UK’s campus and clinic. They could buy an old house cheap and have plenty of money left over to fix it up with energy efficient heating systems and such. To top it all off, there’s a golf course in your back yard. It is a wonder to me that this area is turning into student housing instead.

    One thing you did not mention about this area is the prevalence of chain link fences. I hate those things. I think they make a nice house and yard look bad. If I could use tax money for my pet projects, I start a fund to help people get replace their chain link fences with something nicer looking.

    Those new “houses” on American are hideous. But this is what you get when you have developers building houses for students. Most students don’t care how nice the house looks, so long as it is close to campus and has a yard to grill in and play corn hole. These houses fit the bill.

    It’s shame to see this area become so uglified, as it is prime real estate. Again, it’s close to campus and it’s close to a shopping center with a grocery store, a bar, and many restaurants. Maybe when the effects of peak oil hit, more profs and docs will move in and fix the ugliness of this area.

    I love the idea of creating a map of unofficial bike routes. I have a few I could add to the map. In fact, if someone can point me in the right direction to learn about how to make something like this, I’d get the thing started.

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