Lenexa hasn’t always been a hotbed of political activity when it comes to city elections. But that may change a bit this year, as a local group of bicycle enthusiasts begins a campaign for bike infrastructure.
The Facebook group iBike Lenexa, started by Jeff Carroll, is sending out questionnaires to candidates in the August primary asking whether they’d get behind a plan for signs, bike lanes and other measures to encourage drivers to share the road.
Lenexa has a growing bicycling community, Carroll said, because of a new city rec center in the City Center development and because a business in Old Town, Velo +, has built a following.
Many of the riders in the group commute or go out for longer rides, he said, and most don’t want to restrict themselves to trails.
“Trails are recreational. If you want to use a bicycle as transportation you have to be able to ride on the street,” he said.
That’s a problem because Lenexa has few if any bike lanes or even “share the road” arrows to remind drivers that cyclists are also on the road, Carroll said. As a commuter, he said he sees bike infrastructure in other cities, but almost nothing in Lenexa.
To back that up, Carroll used data from the Mid-America Regional Council for a map showing bike lanes, bike route or share the road signs. His map shows infrastructure in neighboring cities, but “a black hole in Lenexa.”
So Carroll started the Facebook page.
“I started a grass-roots community as a way to communicate and talk about what we’d like to see,” he said. So far there are about 80 people in it, he said.
The city has invested heavily in building the City Center development, with little attention to how someone might access it by bicycle or on foot, Carroll said. He also pointed to the 87th Street Parkway overpass over Interstate 35 as one that could be improved for pedestrians and cyclists.
The group has presented its concerns to the Lenexa City Council and now wants to make bike infrastructure part of the election. Lenexa has two incumbents on the council who each have two primary opponents. Those candidates were to receive a four-question survey asking whether they would support more infrastructure, a comprehensive bicycle plan and a program of bicycle education and promotion.
Carroll hopes the city will take bicyclists’ needs in mind as roads are resurfaced and new road projects are done.