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First draft of bike plan for Covington and Newport unveiled

Three people standing with their backs to the camera looking at a map on display
Nick Swartsell
Attendees at a May 31 open house launching a draft of Tri-State Trail's transportation plan for Covington and Newport

Covington resident Susan Vogt loves riding her bicycle. She feels pretty safe on the streets near her home, but is sometimes nervous when it comes to riding further in the city.

Vogt turned out for an open house this week put on by advocacy group Tri-State Trails unveiling a new bike plan to make trips like hers safer. That plan has been in the works for months after the deaths of cyclists in Northern Kentucky and calls for safer streets. Both Covington and Newport city commissions voted to have Tri-State Trails work on the plan, and local safe streets group Devou Good Foundation funded the work.

Now, the public is getting a first look at the broad outlines of a bike infrastructure network that could some day connect vital parts of Newport and Covington.

RELATED: Northern Kentucky advocates push for better bike infrastructure after death of popular cyclist

"I would like to be able to get downtown easily — from Latonia to downtown Covington," Vogt says.

That trip involves riding on one of two major state routes currently. Vogt notes that she can accomplish that now, but not without a significant amount of anxiety from speeding traffic. She hopes in the future, routes will be available that make the trip easier and more welcoming for less seasoned cyclists.

Attendees at the open house saw maps showing existing bike routes; places of high importance in both cities; heat maps showing crashes; places where there are high percentages of households without cars; and Tri-State Trails' suggestions for places where future bike routes could go to connect people with places they go most often. Director Wade Johnston says the plan doesn't stipulate what kind of infrastructure will go where — a bike path versus a bike lane, for example — just yet. That's for future drafts.

What's next

Attendee Bradley Harris is also hoping for safer riding conditions. An avid cyclist, he lives in Covington's Austinberg neighborhood and would like to see better routes for connecting Covington's northern and southern ends, as well as its western and eastern sides. He says riding on high-traffic roads can be quite daunting.

"There aren't a lot of small streets that get you where you need to go, which means you're on streets with a lot of traffic," he says. "It's either that or you get on the sidewalk, and sidewalk riding isn't safe for pedestrians. So they need to fix some things."

RELATED: Recent bicyclist deaths are part of an upward trend

Johnston says Tri-State Trails will continue collecting feedback over the coming months and refine its plan. It will then present it to Newport and Covington city governments for approval. After that, it will help look for funding for the infrastructure it recommends.

Tri-State Trails will hold another open house June 6 at the Newport City Government building. You can see the plans Tri-State Trails presented and give feedback here.

Nick has reported from a nuclear waste facility in the deserts of New Mexico, the White House press pool, a canoe on the Mill Creek, and even his desk one time.