Overland Park & Leawood

Biking gets a push in Overland Park

The wheels are in motion for Overland Park to become a more bicycle friendly city.

After a conducting a yearlong study on how to promote safer bicycling in Overland Park, consultants approached the city council’s public works committee on Monday evening with a few suggestions.

One of them is creating more than 165 miles of bicycle lanes throughout the city.

Establishing a bicycling network is the key, emphasized Kevin Luecke, a senior planner for Toole Design Group, to the committee.

In his presentation, he also showed that it would be beneficial for the city to create approximately 45 miles of buffered bicycle lanes, 95 miles of shared use paths, 30 miles of shared lane markings and three miles of signed bike routes.

The estimated total cost of the program could reach $25.6 million.

But the construction and costs would be gradual, Luecke said.

The new lanes and signage could be implemented with each upcoming street resurfacing or reconstruction project already in the works, he said.

Recommendations for the city were derived from various sources, such as results from an online survey, comments from an interactive WikiMap and input from public meetings and forum groups.

Implementing a bicycling network could only benefit Overland Park in positive ways, Luecke told the committee. It could improve residents’ health, help the environment, and keep the city competitive in drawing businesses.

“We don’t want to force people out of their cars and onto bikes,” he said. “This is simply about providing options. If someone wants to bike a mile to the library, they should be able to do so safely.”

Several committee members were pleased with the consultants’ results and thought the project was doable.

Councilman Paul Lyons, who is on the committee, said he hopes that if the city creates a bicycle network, it would encourage businesses and schools to install more bike racks.

“I’m enthusiastic about this project and I think it’s a great idea,” Lyons said.

Councilman Jim Kite, who also it on the committee, agreed. But he strongly believes bicycling safety education needs to be a component as well.

“There are folks, whether they’re a bicyclist or motorist, who will need to learn a few things about safety,” he said.

The results of the study will be reviewed by more committees before the city council votes on it later this year.