Government & Politics

More bike lanes and bike racks coming to Kansas City

Kansas City's first green bike box

Kansas City has a new green "bike box," designed to improve safety and give cyclists a head start against motorists. The big, bright green painted box is at 11th and Petticoat Lane (Main Street), where 11th Street jogs and crosses the streetcar li
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Kansas City has a new green "bike box," designed to improve safety and give cyclists a head start against motorists. The big, bright green painted box is at 11th and Petticoat Lane (Main Street), where 11th Street jogs and crosses the streetcar li

More bike lanes and bike racks are coming to Kansas City this year as city officials continue their push to implement the 14-year-old Bike KC plan.

Although the City Council approved the plan in 2002, it wasn’t until 2013 that “bike route” signs began appearing along some of the 600-mile, on-street bicycling system outlined in the document.

Now the pace is picking up, Deb Ridgway, the city’s active transportation coordinator, said Monday. Two-thirds of the system is now identified with signs, and dozens of miles of marked bike lanes have been completed or are in the design phases. And a third of the planned 230-mile, off-road Trails KC system is finished.

With May being National Bike Month, Ridgway spent the day touting current projects or those in the works on the steps of City Hall and in interviews with the media.

“Over the next three years, we’re going to be adding upwards of 50 miles of new bikeway projects,” she said.

Among them, the first “protected” bike lanes in the city are being added on Gregory Boulevard through Swope Park, and on Barry Road. Instead of solid barriers between traffic and cyclists, flexible posts or bumps in the road surface will provide some separation.

Protected bike lanes are also going to be added on portions of Armour Boulevard, where parked cars will be the barrier. The bike line will be between the curb and those parked vehicles.

Motorists and cyclists alike will soon see more changes downtown. Plans call for more bike lanes and bike boxes, which are street sections painted green at signaled intersections. The idea is to create a safe space for cyclists ahead of other traffic so they have a head start when the light turns green.

Ridgway was especially pleased with a plan to add bike lanes on the length of the Paseo. That 9.5-mile stretch would be one of the longest continuous bikeways in an American city, she said.

In all, some $3 million is set aside for the projects. Some $2.3 million of that is coming from the federal government, which encourages local governments to invest in bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. That includes the hardware for bicycle parking.

“A hundred new bike racks just arrived,” Ridgway said. Look for them to start showing up in shopping areas soon.

Cyclist Jenn Rygg and friends navigate the hazards of downtown Wichita with the help of new bike lanes. (March 10, 2016/Mike Hutmacher/The Wichita Eagle)

Mike Hendricks: 816-234-4738, @kcmikehendricks

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