Location: KansasCity

Oblivious in Olathe

From an article in the Kansas City Star, discussing a proposed Streetscape project on Santa Fe Street in Olathe, Kansas:

The plan would redevelop Santa Fe from the downtown area to the east with wide sidewalks lined with brick pavers, crosswalks constructed with brick pavers rather than striped with paint, way-finding signs, street medians, street furniture, upgraded street lights, black signal poles, plants and bus shelters.

At Large Councilman John Bacon said he didn’t like the phrasing of one section dealing with future street projects. He argued that it placed too much emphasis on bike lanes.

The section read: “Balance between modes. Street systems should seek to balance, auto, transit, pedestrian and bicycle movements. Action) Incorporate transit, bicycle and pedestrian facilities into street standards and the Transportation Master Plan.”

Bacon said he hadn’t seen anyone in Olathe riding to work on a bicycle.

“I’m just not there, yet,” he said, referring to acceptance of the provision. “This is not like India or something.” [read more]

You must not be paying much attention, Mr. Bacon. Hundreds of bicyclists use Olathe streets everyday (on some days, perhaps thousands), and many of those ride their bicycles to work.

And how can you tell, just by looking at them, whether they’re riding to work?

And why should that matter? Is everyone driving a motor vehicle using it for commuting? I think not.

I was riding through Olathe yesterday during evening rush hour, and encountered several cyclists that I know were commuting from work (because I asked them). Numerous others may have been, but I didn’t have the opportunity to speak with them.

Check out the bike lanes on Ridgeview, leading to Garmin World Headquarters (where they make products used by cyclists). Check out the bike lanes on 127th Street, on 143rd Street — these are well-used by cyclists of all stripes. Check out the bike lanes on Dennis Avenue — bicyclists, every day. I seldom traffic any of these streets, whether by car or by bike, without seeing someone using these bike lanes to get around town.

Mr. Bacon, I’d suggest taking your blinders off, getting out on a bike and mixing with the cyclists. They’re far more numerous than you seem to believe. And talk with them. Ask them if they appreciate the bike lanes they have. Ask them if they’d like more. Ask them if they’d use them.

I think you’re find that people do want, and would use, bike lanes.

Cyclists, if you’d like to let Mr. Bacon know how you feel about bicycles on Olathe roads, his email address is jbacon@olatheks.org. His phone number is 913-269-6305. He’d love to hear from you.

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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]

4 responses to “Oblivious in Olathe”

  1. Keith Gates says:

    In the shortest way possible to describe my thoughts on this matter: Unacceptable viewpoint.

  2. Bill Burns says:

    John Bacon needs to be toast next election time. I’ve heard this dumkopf make ignorant statements like this live and in person during previous city council meetings addressing development in the city. He wouldn’t see folks riding to work in Olathe if he had toothpix propping his eyes open. He is Olathe’s past; it just remains for the electorate to make sure of it next go round.

  3. Chris says:

    I absolutely agree with the idea of contacting Mr. Bacon to let him know of cyclists’ concerns. I love Olathe’s bike lanes and would love to see more, especially on Santa Fe.

    That said, we cyclists should avoid hyperbole. There’s no way that “hundreds” of cyclists use Olathe streets each day. And certainly nowhere near “thousands.” If we keep throwing unrealistic numbers like that out there, the politicians (and the public) won’t take us seriously.

    Perhaps if bike lanes become more prevalent, those numbers will someday become the norm. I certainly hope so.

  4. Randy says:

    I don’t think those number are unrealistic at all. Hundreds is certainly within reason — OK, not every day, but definitely most days. There may not be that many riding to work, but if you count recreational cyclists, kids going to/from school, kids riding their bikes in the street, families out for rides, I think that’s absolutely hundreds per day.

    And Olathe is a rather large geographic area — 54 square miles — surely there are two people per square mile riding bicycles on Olathe streets some time during each day.

    “Thousands” is not at all out of the realm of possibility on weekends with nice weather.