After years of languishing as one of the least bicycle-friendly cities in the nation, Kansas City, Missouri has launched an ambitious initiative to turn thing around. Not only does KC want to become a Bicycle Friendly Community, it wants to become a “platinum-level” community, the highest possible designation for bicycle friendliness.
This audacious plan was announced May 14th by Kansas City Mayor Mark Funkhouser. He’s set a goal of getting to platinum level by 2020. That’s a long way off, but KC certainly has a long way to go.
Among the speakers at the press conference were Funkhouser, KC Bike/Ped Coordinator Deb Ridgway, Kansas City Councilmember Russ Johnson, and Shawnee, Kansas mayor Jeff Meyers, whose city is currently a Bronze-Level Bike Friendly Community.
Councilman Johnson, who is chairman of the City Council’s Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, rode his bike to the press conference from his home in North Kansas City, and said that there’s no better way to see the beauty of the city, but that KC needs to make commuting safer and easier. Johnson had to ride on major highways and had to share the Heart of America bridge with big rigs and cars speeding by his shoulder.
A TV news helicopter followed Johnson on his short trek to city hall, and observers watched him dodge sewer gates and fight for space on roads. “It isn’t as easy as it could be,” Johnson said. “There are very economical things we can do that would make it easier.”
Mike Hendricks, columnist for the Kansas City Star, says that “considering Kansas City’s shortage of bike lanes, etc. — which puts us at the tinfoil level, I’d say — platinum looks like a lofty, if not unachievable, goal.”
Deb Ridgway is more hopeful: Kansas City now has 25 miles of trails and 6.5 miles of bike lanes. By the end of the year the city will install 100 bike racks at community centers, add bike route signs on 30 miles and improve sewer grates. “I think that we can get there,” she said.
Post tags: Bicycle Friendly