A plan to create more than 165 miles of bicycle lanes throughout Overland Park is set to go before the Overland Park Planning Commission next week.
The public was given one last chance earlier this month to offer input on the bike network.
Dozens of people showed up for an open house held at Matt Ross Community Center to learn about the proposed plan and write down feedback.
Consultants have been working on the plan for the past year. The planning commission will take it up Monday.
If approved by the city council later this year, the plan will create more than 165 miles of bicycle lanes throughout the city. It will also create buffered bicycle lanes, shared use paths, shared lane markings and signed bike routes.
The estimated total cost of the endeavor could reach $25.6 million.
“I’m an avid cyclist and I’m proud to know Overland Park is pursuing bike lanes and bike safety,” said Anne Marie Kauffman of Mission. “I hope it’s the way of the future.”
Kauffman attended the open house with her mother, Ruth Kauffman, to see what changes could be coming to the area.
Ruth Kauffman, of Overland Park, often uses her bike as a main mode of transportation in nice weather. She rides to work, the grocery store and the post office.
But even though the city will be more bike-friendly if the plan is passed, she hopes it also will become more bike-accepting.
“Educating the public will be the biggest challenge,” Ruth said. “A lot of drivers can be nasty to cyclists.”
Her daughter agrees.
“When people don’t know the laws, it’s scary,” Anne said.
To combat that fear, the plan recommends that the city hold educational events, such as a bicycle rodeo, provide bicycle safety and educational materials on its website, and even include bicycle and pedestrian education annually to residents in the form of a newsletter or through utility bills.
“Some drivers assume trails are for bikes and roads are for cars,” said Stephen Rhoades, a landscape architect with Vireo, who collaborated on the plan. “That’s not the case. Education is going to be paramount. There are people out there who would probably ride more often if they felt the streets were safe, and we hope to make that happen.”
If the bike network is approved by the council, it could be implemented as soon as this year, Rhoades said.
The new lanes and signage are set to be constructed with each upcoming street resurfacing or reconstruction project already in the works.
It’s a process that could take 10 to 15 years to finish, but would reduce costs significantly.
“Usually when you do a plan, it takes a long time before it gets implemented,” Rhoades said. “To see the city staff do it so quickly with little or no expense is great, it’s very innovative.”
Rhoades is confident that if approved, the bike network will benefit Overland Park tremendously. After all, he said, residents are eager to see it happen.
Countless residents have attended open houses and forums, And they’ve left hundreds of comments on an online survey and interactive WikiMap.
“Their feedback helped us understand the city a little more,” Rhoades said. “We needed to know what was good or bad about different routes. This is a bike plan for the community, so they definitely needed to have a say.”