Location: KansasCity

Another Gravel Road Falls to the Paver

In my area of Kansas, gravel roads seem to be disappearing at an alarming rate, being paved over and bringing more traffic traveling at higher speeds. Is this a good thing or bad?

The following is a photo of a newly-paved road in eastern Kansas. Up until a few days ago, this was a quiet gravel road in far southwestern Johnson County (specifically, 215th Street between Gardner Road and Moonlight Road). Now it’s been paved.

newly paved road

I know that doesn’t look much like pavement, but it’s chipseal, which is basically asphalt pavement covered by a thin layer of fine aggregate.

Its present state is a transitory phase between a gravel road and an asphalt road. Before long, that gravel will be swallowed up by the asphalt, leaving a relatively smooth and uniform surface. Even in its fresh chipseal state, the road is easily rideable by bicycles, and will only get smoother over time.

I don’t know if this is something that anyone else has noticed, but gravel roads in my area seem to be disappearing at an ever-increasing rate. I can think of at least 15 miles of roads, within only 10 miles of my house, that were very recently gravel and are now paved.

Yes, the paved roads become easier for thin-tired road bikes to handle, and are opening up new routes for recreational riders.

But the paved roads also bring increased traffic. And it seems like the smoother a road becomes, the faster motorists want to drive, and the more of them there are.

Gravel roads, by contrast, carry much less traffic, and at much lower speed. And most are eminently bikeable.

The other problem with paving gravel roads is that the new pavement seems to attract new housing as well, increasing suburban sprawl, stretching already-scarce resources, and bringing more and more traffic, that has to travel farther and farther to get to work or stores.

So I guess I see paving as a mixed blessing, at best, and often a big negative. What do you think?

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About The Author

By Randy Rasa, editor/webmaster at Kansas Cyclist, the web's premier Kansas cycling information site, featuring authoritative guides to Kansas cycling clubs, bike shops, organized bike rides, touring, trails, and much more. [learn more]

One response to “Another Gravel Road Falls to the Paver”

  1. Dave says:

    I agree with you, i have lived here for my entire life, have watched my highschool be split 4 times, going on 5, watched the city progress from 95th and metcalf to what it is now. However its progress, and regardless it will keep going. As a road cyclist i love it, but do agree with you in regards to the speed of motorist, as well as the inevitable sprawl.