For the last several generations, it seems, the default decision-making mode, in terms of transportation planning within our communities, has been to think of automobile traffic flow as the number one priority. Everything else – liveability, pedestrian safety, bicyclist safety, economic resilience – has been subservient to automobility.
Things are beginning to change, finally, and cities are waking up to the fact that improving the quality of life of their citizens demands more than just making it easier for cars to get around. Not everyone is willing, or able, to drive everywhere they go. They want other options, such as biking or walking.
And ideally, bike/ped facilities should not be after-thoughts, but should be part of every project from inception, integrated into the transportation system, as its foundation, not as an add-on.
That's where planning comes in.
Some cities call them "Comprehensive Plans", other use the term "Master Plan", others refer to a "Bike Plan", "Trail Plan", "Bikeways Plan", "Greenways Plan", and various other phrases. For purposes of this article, we'll collectively refer to them as "Bicycle Master Plans".
The following is a summary of Bicycle Master Plans from around the state of Kansas:
The Kansas Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation Plan was created in 1995. A 2013 update to the plan is in progress.
In 2013, the Kansas Statewide Rail-to-Trails Plan was published: "The purpose of this plan is to review existing rail-to-trails, to identify the benefits of rail-to-trails, and to provide information on how local trail supporters can develop trails in their own communities. The plan supports development of a comprehensive trails system across Kansas that creates economic and health benefits for the state's residents."
Dodge City has published a Bike Path Master Plan Map.
Gardner has a Park System Master Plan, which includes plans for future trails (but no on-street bicycling infrastructure).
Hutchinson adopted a Trails Master Plan in 2007. The plan itself does not appear to be online, but the map is.
Iola went through a Vision Iola planning process that "harnesses the ideas of everyday Iolans to improve our downtown, our parks and trails, and our community's identity". The outcome of that was the Vision Iola Master Document, created in 2010.
Kansas City Metro
The MARC Long-Range Transportation Plan (Transportation Outlook 2040) "is the long-range transportation plan that guides how the Kansas City region will manage, operate and invest $18 billion in its multimodal transportation system over the next 30 years." The plan was approved in 2010.
The Manhattan Bicycle Master Plan "seeks to integrate bicycle use into the transportation infrastructure in a manner that will safely and efficiently accommodate cyclists. The purpose of the Master Plan is to create a structure for future development of bicycle facilities to respond to both short and long-term needs." The plan was adopted in 1998, updated in 2008, and Five-Year Strategic Plan for Bicycling was proposed in 2011.
Olathe adopted a Trails and Greenways Plan in 1993.
Overland Park adopted Greenway Linkages Plans in 2011.
The Shawnee Bike Recreational Trail Master Plan "will be used as a guideline for future construction of on-street bike lanes and off-street recreational trails." The route map was last updated in October 2011.
The Topeka Bikeways Master Plan was approved in 2012. It "outlines a five-phase concept through which the city would establish bike lanes on various specific streets while developing a Topeka Bikeway System over a 15-year period."
Valley Center adopted Pedestrian/Bicycle Master Plan in 2013. The plan "focuses on providing safe and efficient connections throughout Valley Center, identifies priority corridors for pedestrian and bicycle facilities, and recommends changes to codes and regulations to ingrain the priority of providing opportunities to walk and bike."
WAMPO (the Wichita Area Metropolitan Planning Organization) also has a Regional Pathway System Plan, which "identifies primary east/west and north/south corridors that connect most of the communities in the WAMPO region. These regional corridors create a framework for biking facilities and help lay the foundation for identifying missing links. The regional corridors can be looked at as a backbone system that connects existing and future bicycle/pedestrian facilities." The plan was adopted in 2007, and last updated in 2011.
City and County Comprehensive Plans
In addition to the Bicycle Master Plans detailed above, most Kansas cities and counties have created master plans or comprehensive plans.
Bicycle transportation and recreation is seldom a major part of these plans, but many include at least some discussions of bicycle planning.
To find the comprehensive plan for a particular city or county, go to the government entity's web site (if they have one), or do a web search. If a city or county does not have their comprehensive plan online, it will still be available, on request, via local city or county offices.