A Tribute to Branden Klayko, Who Loved Louisville and Wanted His City to Be Its Best

On his blog Broken Sidewalk, Branden Klayko pushed Louisville to become a more walkable city.
On his blog Broken Sidewalk, Branden Klayko pushed Louisville to become a more walkable city.

We want to take a moment today to honor the life of Branden Klayko, an architect and Louisville native who founded the local blog Broken Sidewalk, which was part of the Streetsblog Network for years.

Branden passed away recently after a battle with leukemia at the age of 33. He had just gotten married a few months ago.

Since 2008, Branden wrote about urbanism, street safety, and other topics at Broken Sidewalk. Professionally, Branden had worked as an editor at the Architect’s Newspaper (one of my personal favorites), where he reached a national audience. He was civic-minded, hardworking, and thoughtful. After maintaining Broken Sidewalk for seven years from New York, he returned home to Louisville last year.

His volunteer advocacy on behalf of his beloved home city touched thousands of people. Yesterday, people who never met Branden in person expressed how much they admired him and his work. In an obituary in the Louisville Courier-Journal, Mayor Greg Fischer praised him, saying, “His voice, his ideas and his vision will live beyond the short time he was with us.”

Branden was one of the best and most consistent writers tracking local urbanism and transportation policy. He was a fierce opponent of Louisville’s gigantic Spaghetti Junction interchange — a battle the highway builders eventually won — and a clear-eyed watchdog of the city’s efforts to improve walking, biking, and transit. The kind of unpaid work he did can be tedious and sometimes thankless, but through 1,757 posts, he never seemed to grow tired of it.

Even after he was diagnosed with leukemia, Branden showed incredible focus and determination. He took a break from blogging but returned as soon as his health allowed it. He wrote up until a month before his death, covering Louisville’s efforts to fix its most dangerous streets and become more bike-friendly.

Branden seemed to be recovering when he posted to Facebook last month, reporting he was feeling better after a bone marrow transplant. But his health took a turn for the worse, and now Louisville and the national movement for safe streets has lost a key voice. We’ll miss him dearly.

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