This has been building for awhile, but it sounds like bicycling in Wichita is starting to gain momentum. The Wichita Eagle just published an editorial called Turn Wichita into bike town:
This is Bike to Work Day, Bike to Work Week and Bike Month in Wichita. The “I Bike Douglas” movement will kick off Saturday. Now, if only Wichita could become a bike town.
As the bicyclists at a community meeting Tuesday night described it, Wichita currently is a “car town” full of drivers with bad attitudes toward bikes.
Turning Wichita into a bike town would require more bike-friendly planning, including more bike lanes, paths and racks.
The proposed city ordinance updating bike rules will help, by junking the unused bicycle licensing system and, like state law, requiring bicyclists to “ride as near to the right side of the street … as practicable” (rather than, as now, within 5 feet of the right hand of the curb or edge of the street).
Wichita also might want to imitate Hutchinson’s new Public Bike Project, which will put specially painted bicycles around downtown for the sharing (or the taking, human nature being what it is).
Bicyclist solidarity will be served by Saturday’s “I Bike Douglas” kickoff, with events including maintenance and safety clinics, a vintage bike display and three guided hour-long tours focusing on architecture, art and photography-friendly sites.
Of course, no ordinance or advocacy may help with the “bicycle haters,” as Wichita City Council member Janet Miller called them, who either don’t know or don’t care that cars and bikes alike have legal rights to the roadways and the responsibility to share them with caution.
But bicyclists are simultaneously getting exercise and acting to curb air pollution and the nation’s oil addiction. When they are on Wichita streets, they deserve respect, imitation and a wide berth. They do not deserve to be honked and hollered at as if they are somewhere they don’t belong.
Wichita already has a lot of the elements of a bike-friendly community: a great groups of bike shops, enthusiastic clubs (Oz Bicycle Club, Coasters Bicycle Club, Kansas Singletrack Society), bike blogs (River City Cyclist, ICT Cycle Chic, Cycling in Wichita), an organization to promote bicycle commuting (Bike Wichita), a very good bike path system, cycling-friendly topography, and usually-reasonable weather.
So how does Wichita take the next step, from a place where cycling could be great, to a place where cycling is great?
It’s simple: Ride bikes.
The more people riding bikes, the more bike-friendly a community becomes. It can be tough to take that first pedal-stroke, but after that, momentum will come.
Get out and ride, Wichita!
More recent Wichita bicycling news: Make Wichita better for bicycles, Bicyclists bemoan ‘car town’ attitude at meeting, Wichita City Council to vote on bike laws, Wichita Council Defers Vote on Changes to the Bicycle Ordinance
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