Poll finds residents of Kansas suburbs want more alternatives to driving

Residents living in the Kansas suburbs are distinctly unhappy with their lack of alternatives to driving, according to a new poll just out this week.

The poll conducted by regional transportation planners found that while most residents are generally satisfied with traffic flow, they blame what little congestion we have on our dependence on cars.

The poll of about 1,100 residents in Johnson, Wyandotte, Leavenworth, Douglas and Miami counties showed that roughly 45 percent of those surveyed said our over-dependence on the car contributed to “transportation problems” in their area.

About 36 percent said they were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with transit service within cities. And nearly 40 percent said they were unhappy with mass transit service between cities.

About half of those surveyed — about 46 percent — were dissatisfied with availability of bike lanes on the Kansas side of the metro area.

Curiously, nearly 40 percent of the residents blamed poorly planned development for transportation problems in the Kansas suburbs.

But the study sent somewhat of a contradictory message.

While residents seemed upset about the lack of a good mass transit system and the availability of bike lanes, their solutions for easing travel seemed to mostly focus on road building.

Nearly one in four said widening existing roads was their top solution for making travel easy. Roughly another third said building news highways, connecting roads or improving intersections were the best ways to improve our ability to get around.

About 13 percent said improving bus service would be most effective while 10 percent listed rail as the best ways to improve our mobility.

Together, road-building solutions had support from about 58 percent of those surveyed while transit only had support from 23 percent.

The poll was done as part of a study of transportation needs in Johnson County, Wyandotte, Leavenworth, Douglas and Miami counties.

The study was done for the Kansas Department of Transportation, the Mid-America Regional Council and transportation planners in Lawrence and Douglas County.

Among other things the study also found that a majority of those interviewed — about 40 percent — said it took 11 to 20 minutes to get to work. Another 23 percent said it took under 10 minutes to get to work

About 78 percent of those surveyed said they expected traffic congestion to get worse in the next 10 years.

Most of those surveyed said developers should be charged a road impact fee to pay for the area’s transportation needs. Development fees were followed by toll roads and increasing gas taxes.