Barret Avenue: Shared path or super-sized sidewalk?

15 buckets across the sidewalk

Fifteen KFC buckets could fit the width of the Barret Avenue sidewalk/shared-use path. | Photo illustration by Sara Havens

In late 2018, construction was underway on Barret Avenue from Castlewood to Rufer avenues. The $300,000 project involved reducing four lanes of traffic to two and also installing an 11-foot-wide “shared path” extended sidewalk on the east side of the street alongside the St. Louis Cemetery.

After the crews finished, the orange cones disappeared and the dust settled, some Louisvillians are wondering if the super-sized sidewalk is necessary, especially during rush hour times when traffic in the Tyler Park area gets heavily congested.

Brandon Coan, District 8 Metro Councilman, tells Insider the sidewalk is wider than normal so it can be a multi-use path for both pedestrians and cyclists.


The sidewalk turns into a bike lane at Castlewood Avenue. | Photo by Sara Havens

“At first there seemed to be confusion in that it was only a sidewalk along Barret,” he says. “I think because it’s constructed of concrete instead of the asphalt multi-use path we’re used to seeing, it may have had people thinking this.”

Coan notes there are still details to be added to the site to further differentiate it from just your average, everyday sidewalk.

“Delineators are on order and will be installed along Castlewood to further clarify the bike facilities,” he says.

He also points out that the dimensions of the project, which was partly paid for by local bicycle infrastructure funds, came from guidelines set by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials of implementing a two-directional, multi-use path.

The recommended width for a shared-use path is 10 feet, but project designers went with 11 feet to provide offset against the cemetery wall.

“Also, the multi-use path was chosen because of existing road geometry,” explains Coan. “Before, Barret had four 9-foot lanes (36 feet total) and couldn’t accommodate two 10-foot lanes, a 10-foot dedicated turn lane, and two 5-foot bike lanes on each side (40 feet total needed). The new 10-foot lanes meet our minimum standards for vehicle use on this type of road; dedicated left turn lanes are considered safer than turning from a thru-lane; and the addition of a sidewalk to the east side of Barret also had the benefit of providing pedestrian access.”

All of those numbers certainly make sense, but when viewing the colossal concrete creature each week on our commute from Germantown to the Highlands, we can’t help but wonder just how big the big-ass sidewalk really is. So we broke out our measuring tape and calculator and went to work.

Here you go …

The width of the Barret Avenue sidewalk could accommodate:
Abe Lincoln on the sidewalk

The sidewalk could fit Abraham Lincoln and his top hat. | Photo illustration by Sara Havens

• 15 KFC buckets (8.5 inches each)

• Abraham Lincoln with a top hat (7 feet)

• (Nearly) 4 Louisville Slugger bats (average 34 inches each)

• 3 bourbon barrels end to end (36 inches each)

• Female beluga whale (average 9.8 feet)

• 3 Bird scooters (42.5 inches each)

• 11 bottles of Pappy (12 inches each)

• LeBron James’ wingspan (7 feet, 1/4 inch)

• 27 cans of beer (4.75 inches each)

• 4 bikes riding side by side (average handlebar 30 inches)

• NBA basketball goal (10 feet)

• Tiny house sideways (average 8 by 20 feet)

• 9 large Papa John’s pizzas (14 inches each)

• 2 Pat Days (4 feet, 11 inches each)

• Justify (a guesstimate by local equine writer Bill Doolittle: 5 feet, 4 inches “from nose to rump”)