Kansas City’s bicyling community has celebrated significant victories in recent years. The B-cycle bike-share system has been a wonderful addition as have many new miles of protected bike lanes.
But bicycling’s ardent supporters also have suffered disappointing setbacks.
Just a few weeks ago BikeWalkKC officials announced that Kansas City this year was not on the list of Bicycle Friendly Communities released by the League of American Bicyclists. The reason: While the city had reached the bronze level, officials in the Public Works Department had failed to try to renew the application for that level in 2015.
Public works officials blamed the problem on a “miscommunication” with the League of American Bicyclists and appropriately apologized.
This was an embarrassing setback for City Manager Troy Schulte and the city’s goal of reaching the platinum level of a bike-friendly community by 2020. To his credit, Schulte recently met with some bicycling supporters. Now it’s up to his staff to work diligently toward that goal.
In a new report, the city said it soon would finish about 20 miles of bike lanes in the downtown/midtown areas.
The long-heralded effort to make it easier — and especially safer — for Kansas Citians to get around by bike is benefiting thousands of people. They include those of all ages who want to pedal to work, to shop, to see community assets and to just look around their neighborhoods.
In the region, Shawnee and Lee’s Summit already have done the necessary work to qualify as bike-friendly communities, too.
In Kansas City, officials too often have had problems sticking to deadlines of getting promised work under way and done. That includes putting Grand Boulevard on a “road diet,” which involves reducing traffic lanes and creating bike lanes on both sides of the street.
The city has taken longer than it should to get needed changes going in midtown, even after neighborhood residents have come together in support of bicycling projects.
In a pleasant surprise earlier this summer, city officials suddenly eliminated two of the four traffic lanes on Gregory Boulevard as it winds through Swope Park and added two long bike lanes on either side of the road.
Chalk that up as the latest victory for bicyclists — with many more needed in the future.