Location: Wichita

Wichita Updates Their Bicycling Laws

This morning the Wichita City Council approved changes to the city’s bicycle ordinances to bring them into line with state bicycling laws.

The changes were proposed by the Wichita Police Department, with input from the general public as well as the Oz Bicycle Club and the Wichita Bike-Walk Alliance. The changes were proposed because the existing ordinances were not bicycle friendly and were difficult to comply with and enforce.

The updated ordinance (#48-754) eliminated the following from the city code:

  • Bicycle licensing requirements.
  • Requiring the use of a bike rack if parking within a city block of a rack in core area.
  • Requiring that police impound unsafe bicycles (and the associated $2 impound fee).
  • Requiring bicyclists to operate within five feet of the right hand of the curb or edge of the
    street.

Kansas State Statute KSA 8-1590 requires that bicyclists “ride as near to the right side of the street…as practicable” and “Wherever a usable path for bicycles has been provided adjacent to a roadway, bicycle riders shall use such path and shall not use the roadway.” The new City Ordinance changes incorporate this language to be consistent and in compliance with State Statute.

Here’s a copy of the proposed ordinance marked with changes, plus a copy of the approved ordinance, and the agenda item report.

According to the Wichita Eagle:

Bicyclists can ride on the street and won’t have to be within 5 feet of the curb anymore, unless there is a “usable” bike path next to the street.

That’s the primary impact of an overhaul of bicycle laws city council members approved unanimously this morning. The changes also eliminate the need to license bicycles with the city and the need to use a bike rack if one is available within a city block.

Bicyclists praised the changes and the city’s outreach to riders in crafting the law. But they questioned what the definition of a “usable” path is and how it will be enforced. City officials said it comes down to what a reasonable person would consider a “usable” path.

City Council member Jim Skelton said he believes riders should decide what is “usable.” “I don’t want to see a judge deciding what is usable,” he said. [ read more ]

It’s good to see Wichita synchronizing their ordinances with state statutes. Laws that vary from place to place only lead to confusion.

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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]

2 responses to “Wichita Updates Their Bicycling Laws”

  1. Roger says:

    I can and will, if it ever comes up, argue that any sidepath is unusable for my purpose, which is getting from point A to point B as quickly and safely as possible. Those 10 foot glorified sidewalks have their purpose. They encourage new riders. They are good for children. They’re fine for walking or putzing on. They’re peachy if you don’t mind walking your bike through every intersection. I’m glad to see Wichita align with the State because it removes some confusion, but what I really want is for Kansas to advance to the next step and remove the mandatory sidepath law from the State books. Wichita had to step backwards to align with this outdated garbage.

  2. Ian Cooper says:

    As a cyclist I’m just glad I don’t live in Kansas. The idea that a cycle path must be used where one exists strikes me as enforcing a very dangerous situation. I have yet to see a bicycle path that’s safer than the adjacent road. Most are poorly maintained, badly designed and/or so badly implemented that they increase the chance of a collision at intersections. Statistics show time after time that bike paths are unsafe, so why on Earth do states and municipalities force cyclists to use them?