Archive for the Crime Category

Reviewing the State’s Bike Grant to Louisville

Posted in Crime, Environment, Louisville News, Politics, Transportation on September 30, 2008 by stateofthecommonwealth

As you may well know, last Friday Governor Steve Beshear and Mayor Jerry Abramson announced that the State of Kentucky will be providing $4.9 million dollars in grant money to Louisville for bicycling and pedestrian improvements (from the Courier-Journal). As we’ve been critical in the past of the city’s bike policy (specifically the Mayor’s propensity to pat himself on the back for what is at best a mediocre city plan), we were naturally curious as to what projects would be enabled because of the grant.

LEO‘s blog General Sense of Outrage published a more-complete list of the improvements than the C-J, so let’s take a look:

Bike Lanes and Safety Signs and Markings $250,000

Kentucky and Louisville will invest $250,000 to restripe roads to add bike lanes and to post Share the Road signs. The investment will help fill in the gaps in the existing bike corridors and create more cross-community pathways to improve safety for cyclists.

Louisville will add about 20 miles of bike paths in the coming year – five miles of striped bike lanes and 15 miles of signed bike routes. Louisville currently has 30 miles of bike lanes, 100 miles of signed bike routes and 30 miles of multi-use off-road paths. Some of the roadways that are priorities for bike lanes are Taylorsville Road, Poplar Level Road and Stonestreet Road.

The city will post Share the Road signs along roads and streets throughout the community that are too narrow for bike lines but are often used by cyclists. Some of the roadways that are priorities for signage are River Road, Frankfort Avenue, Stony Brook Drive, Old 3rd Street Road and Johnsontown Road.

Education and Safety Campaign $125,000
With more cyclists and pedestrians using our roads, education is critical to making our roadways safe. KYTC and Louisville will spend $125,000 on educational efforts, including public-service advertisements, brochures and training classes that underscore the rules for motorists, cyclist and pedestrians and promote the Share the Road theme.

Louisville Metro will begin running a new round of public service announcements in early October through a partnership with Insight Communications. A more comprehensive communications campaign will be launched next year.

LaGrange Road Bicycle & Pedestrian Improvements $1,035,000
This project includes widening a 1.5-mile section of LaGrange Road from Lakeland Road to Bowen Elementary to provide bicycle lanes and add a sidewalk on the north side of roadway.

It will provide connections to several other planned transportation improvements including turn lanes and pedestrian crossings at LaGrange Road and Whipps Mill Road near Bowen Elementary, bike lanes at University of Louisville’s Shelby Campus and the Louisville Loop, a 100-mile multi-use trail encircling the city.

Olmsted Parkways Multi-Use Path System $1,200,000
The grant will be used to design and construct a 0.6-mile multi-use path along Algonquin Parkway from Winkler Avenue to Sharp Street. The project will improve access for pedestrian and cyclists to this residential neighborhood and adjacent businesses.

River Road Corridor Bicycle Improvements $1,217,375
This grant will be used to design and implement bicycle paths along the River Road corridor between Zorn Avenue and US 42 in Prospect. Improvements will accommodate all modes of travel, with a focus on the growing number of bicyclists who are attracted to this scenic corridor along the Ohio River and numerous public parks.

A corridor management plan for the route east of Zorn Avenue will be completed next year and construction of bike paths is planned for 2010 and 2011. The project is a segment of the 100-mile Louisville Loop project.

Bluegrass Industrial Park Bicycle and Pedestrian Trail $656,766
This grant will help fund development of a bicycle and pedestrian trail system along Bluegrass Parkway, Tucker Station Road and Plantside Drive. The total includes matching funds from the City of Jeffersontown of $131,353.

Walkable Communities Improvements $375,000
This grant will fund sidewalk improvements identified during the Mayor’s Healthy Hometown Movement Pedestrian Summit and included in the Community Walkability Plan. The focus is on heavily used TARC routes and corridors for pedestrian commuting and local-destination trips.

Newburg Middle School Safe Routes to Schools $126,550
This grant will fund a number of safety improvements around the 1,000-student school including enhanced lighting, additional stop signs, a crosswalk, on-street bike lanes along Exeter Avenue and a renovated walking path to Petersburg Park and a nearby Boys and Girls Club.

Overall we’re pretty pleased with this list, though we wish there were more specifics as to where the 20 additional miles of bike paths will be going. One thing we’d really like would there to be more bike lanes heading south from downtown, which we feel is definitely underserved (and important for our commute!). Additionally, some of downtown’s existing bike lanes are in bad shape: yesterday we rode along East Market, and a good three blocks or so of the bike lane has been torn up due to sewer work (we’d guess), forcing bicyclists to move into the right auto lane. Given that car drivers in Louisville tend to treat one-way streets as speedways, this is pretty dangerous.

Anyway, though we live in Schnitzelburg, part of the old city of Louisville, it is a good thing that many of these improvements will be made outside the Watterson. And a new bike path along River Road will be pretty awesome, most likely.

In other biking news, apparently there’s a Critical Mass in Louisville? Who knew? Well, according to this blog milkyboots, there was one last Friday in Louisville, and as a result some SUV driver’s car got spray-painted. It goes without saying that this illustrates exactly why we have no interest in ever participating in Critical Mass.

UPDATE 9:30 PM: The Courier-Journal is reporting that a bicyclist was struck this afternoon on Bardstown Road and Grinstead Avenue:

A woman on a bicycle was hit by a van at Bardstown Road and Grinstead Avenue this afternoon.

She was transported to University Hospital with what appear to be life-threatening injuries, said Officer Phil Russell, a Metro Police spokesman.

The accident happened about 3:40 p.m.

Russell said the woman and the van were traveling southbound on Bardstown Road in the right-hand lane, and it appears the van hit the cyclist.

He said police are awaiting toxicology reports and other findings to then consult with the commonwealth’s attorney in regards to any potential charges.

We’ll have more on the story tomorrow, hopefully.

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Yarmuth Campaign HQ Burglarized

Posted in Crime, Elections, Louisville News, Politics on September 11, 2008 by stateofthecommonwealth

(above photo of Yarmuth Campaign HQ from www.politckerky.com.)

The Courier-Journal reports this morning that the campaign office of U.S. Representative John Yarmuth, Democrat representing Kentucky’s 3rd District (which includes most of Louisville), was broken into Tuesday night:

A computer server was among several items missing from the campaign headquarters of U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-3rd District, after an overnight break-in, a spokesman said.

Also missing are a jump drive, wireless computer network cards, office supplies and food items, according to campaign spokesman Christopher Hartman, who said a door to the office at 900 E. Market St. was found open yesterday morning.

“We started noticing things progressively and we may notice more,” he said of the missing items.

Hartman said the server was worth up to $2,000 and the other items were worth more than $100.

“There were many valuable things out in the open that weren’t touched,” Hartman said.

Yarmuth is defending his congressional seat against former U.S. Rep. Anne Northup, whom he defeated two years ago.

WHAS 11 reports a more colorful aspect of the story about the break-in:

Hartman says what makes the burglary more unusual is that some pens and packets of sugar are also missing.

There’s no indication whatsoever at the moment whether G. Gordon Liddy or any other Republican “plumbers” were involved.

Louisville’s Got a New Growth Industry: Meth Labs

Posted in Crime, Economics, Louisville News on September 9, 2008 by stateofthecommonwealth

(above photo of a Louisville Metro Police meth-lab team member from the Courier-Journal.)

We’re nine months into 2008, and the Courier-Journal reports this morning that Louisville Metro Police has discovered 67 meth labs so far — one less than the total number for 2007:

Methamphetamine labs are turning up in Jefferson and Bullitt counties at a record pace, despite tougher over-the-counter, pill-purchasing laws designed to make it more difficult to manufacture the drug.

So far this year, Louisville Metro Police have discovered 67 meth labs in Jefferson County, one less than in all of 2007, according to department records.

Fifteen labs were found last month alone, including two that exploded. A man died of burns from one of the blasts.

…Since laws regulating pseudoephedrine, a key ingredient in methamphetamine, went into effect in 2005, the number of meth labs discovered in Kentucky has dropped by almost half, from 589 in 2005 to 309 last year.

But those numbers may be rising again — more than 150 meth labs have been discovered in the state through April 8 of this year, said Van Ingram with the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy.

Authorities attribute part of the increase to public education, which has made neighbors more aware that the illegal labs exist, and more eager to alert police.

But authorities acknowledge the rising numbers also illustrate how meth makers have been able to exploit weaknesses in laws in Kentucky and Indiana that are designed to limit the purchase of over-the-counter cold and sinus drugs — a source of pseudoephedrine.

…Roughly 95 percent to 98 percent of the labs being discovered are small, “one-pot” operations, rather than large distributors, said Stan Salyards of the Louisville Metro Police narcotics unit.

Those one-pot operations are little more than a single 2-liter soda bottle or plastic container that is used to combine the drug’s basic ingredients.

The setups are portable, making it possible for some “cooks” to make meth in vehicles. Some even set up a lab along the side of an isolated road and return for it later, Salyards said.

Typically, people cooking meth are both using the drug and selling or trading it to turn a small profit.

Often a meth cook will have other people, called smurfers, go to pharmacies to purchase pseudoephedrine, Salyards said. By having several people go to different locations, the sales are harder to track to a single buyer, he said.
Although metro police have found meth labs throughout Jefferson County, they are more concentrated in central and southern areas.

Aside from, y’know, the shitty feeling one might get from using meth (don’t ask us, we’ve just heard it’s no fun), meth production can potentially be hazardous to not only meth cookers, but innocent bystanders as well:

On Aug. 14, a lab sparked an explosion in an apartment at 209 York St. No one was burned, but two police officers went to the hospital complaining of burning in their chests and eyes.

Louisville’s first meth-production death was Aug. 20. Joseph Lewis, 29, of East Bernstadt, Ky., died from burns he sustained the day before when a meth lab exploded while he was cooking the drug in an Okolona apartment.

Franda Back of Shepherdsville understands the dangers well.

On July 30, she was hospitalized after a meth lab was discovered in her apartment building. Back said the hallway filled with a toxic-smelling haze, aggravating her asthma and making it difficult for her to breathe.

“The fumes were just so thick that you started gagging when you walked into the hallway,” Back said. “It was very scary.”

Yeesh.

UPDATE, 10:00 AM: In sorta-related-but-not-really news, the Jeffersontown City Council voted unanimously last night to approve drug testing for all city employees (also from the C-J). The measure comes as a result of last week’s arrest of Jeffersontown Public Works Director Joseph McMillan III after he was discovered with crack cocaine in his Fern Creek home.

The always-excellent blog The Ville Voice has more on how the J’town City Council used last night’s meeting to express their displeasure with Mayor Clay Foreman and his hiring of McMillan.