Location: Kansas

Kansas Trail News: May 20, 2011

Kansas Trail News for May 20, 2011 from Sunflower Recreational Trails:

Flint Hills Nature Trail Progresses

Karen DeOrnellas and Scott Allen, Flint Hills Nature Trail division superintendents with Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy, report that crushed limestone screenings have been installed on the former railroad bed from Bushong (north of Emporia) 4.5 miles to the Morris County line. By summer’s end, screenings will be down an additional 7 miles to the Allegawaho Kaw Heritage Park, located southeast of Council Grove for a total of 11 miles. The hard-packed limestone chip surface is suitable for road bicycles and wheelchairs.

Development of this section is a top priority due to its scenery and historic value. Completion of this segment will allow trail users to travel 24 miles from Admire to Council Grove, a national historic landmark and the last stop for obtaining supplies on the Santa Fe Trail. The section to be developed is of remarkable pristine prairie beauty as the rail-trail passes through deep cuts of tallgrass-covered Flint Hills. It also crosses a 230-foot bridge over highly scenic Rock Creek. Furthermore, Santa Fe Trail swales (commonly known as ruts) can be seen from portions of this trail section.

Union Ferry Branch Of Oregon Trail

For travelers on the Oregon Trail leaving Independence, the first place to get supplies was Union Town, which was located on top of hill 15 miles west of Topeka and one mile south of the Kansas River. The village had 300 people in 50 log houses. Most of inhabitants were Pottawatomie Indians. This was the Upper Crossing of the Kaw River. A ferry was established there and by 1850 it was a popular crossing point, though the majority crossed in what is now downtown Topeka. The Union Ferry Branch split off from the main Oregon Trail west of Big Springs and went southwest. It crossed the present-day Landon Nature Trail just south of the Kansas Turnpike and north of SE 42nd St. and then continued northwest. A sign announcing this crossing could be placed on the Landon Trail. Source: The Oregon Trail, David Dary (2004)

Sunflower Rail-Trails Conservancy Has New Brochure

Larry Ross, President of Sunflower Rail-Trails Conservancy, reports that over 500 new brochures describing major rails-to-trails projects and trails in the Sunflower State were distributed at the Kansas Sampler in Leavenworth.

National Bike To Work Day Friday

Friday May 20 was National Bike to Work Day which promotes the bicycle as an option for commuting to work. Bike-to-Work Day originated in 1956 by the League of American Bicycles. To encourage bike commuting, Sunflower Outdoor and Bike Shop in downtown Lawrence furnished juice, coffee and a light breakfast to bike commuters.

Special Lighted Path From KU To Downtown Lawrence Approved

Lawrence Journal-World, May 3, 2011:

A plan to improve pedestrian safety by building a lighted sidewalk between downtown and Kansas University is set to receive a major boost.

City commissioners at their meeting Tuesday are expected to approve a recommendation to award the project $137,010 in funding from the city’s allocation of the Community Development Block Grant program.

“We think this will create a safety-in-numbers type of environment,” said Mark Thiel, the city’s assistant director of public works. “If we can make this the main route for pedestrians between downtown and campus, we think that will improve safety.”

The path will start in South Park at the corner of Massachusetts and North Park streets. It will cut diagonally across the park until it connects with 12th Street. It then will travel along the north side of 12th Street until it reaches the edge of campus at Louisiana Street.

The project has been on the city’s drawing board for several years, but it has struggled to win funding. Kansas University has agreed to provide $120,000 and the city has committed $50,000 in funding from other sources. Thiel said the nearly $140,000 in CDBG funding will be enough to complete the project.

Work to begin installing lighting in South Park and to repair the existing sidewalk that runs along 12th Street should begin soon. Thiel expects to have lighting installed along the entire path by the time KU classes begin next fall.

Path features

Thiel said he believes the city has worked out a good compromise with neighbors, who previously had expressed concerns about adding lights to the neighborhood. The new lights will be high-efficiency LED-lights, similar to those being installed along Massachusetts Street. In addition, the lights will be on a low illumination setting until a sensor picks up motion along the sidewalk. Then the lights temporarily will increase to greater brightness.

The funding also will allow for two pedestrian-activated crossing signals to be installed along the path. Plans call for the signals — similar to what you see downtown near the outdoor aquatic center on Kentucky Street — at 12th and Tennessee and 12th and Kentucky streets.

Both city and university leaders have been pushing for the lighted pathway project as concerns of safety in the area have grown. The Oread neighborhood area has one of the higher rates of sexual assaults in the community, according to information compiled by the city. [ read more ]

KC Moving Toward Being Bicycle Friendly

The Star’s editorial | KC nabs bronze status as a bicycle-friendly city:

Three years ago, Kansas City was named one of the worst bicycling cities in the United States. Last week, the League of American Bicyclists gave the city a bronze rating as a bicycle-friendly community.

It’s a huge accomplishment. It wasn’t long ago that the color rating for Kansas City’s bike access wouldn’t be repeatable in pleasant society. Today, Kansas Citians who demanded better of their community — all share the credit, and should be proud.

The honor, the most recognized national designation for bike friendliness, recognizes that the city not only will have expanded from a pathetic 6.5 miles of bike lanes to 28 miles (or, as the city points out, 56 miles if you count lanes on both sides of the road), but also plans to add another 205 miles of signed bike-routes this summer. A year ago, The Star challenged this city to add 100 miles of bike lanes within a year, and we’re thrilled the city stepped up.

Now, this isn’t a job done. The incoming council and new Mayor Sly James must build on what is now a solid base. Especially with ever-rising gas prices and the need for exercise still important, alternative transportation must remain a priority. But that doesn’t diminish what has been accomplished in a very short time. Well done, Kansas City.

Flint Hills As Destination Place

The following is excerpted from the Lawrence Journal World (5-17-11):

The appeal of the hills, the last remnants of the tallgrass prairie and a cowboy culture can be the anchor to developing more hiking, bicycling and horse riding opportunities, Kansas Wildlife and Parks Secretary Robin Jennison said.

“Combine this resource with the history and heritage of the area, and we have something that is truly marketable,” Jennison said.

The Flint Hills stretch across most of eastern Kansas, from Marshall County in the north to the Kansas-Oklahoma border. It is home to the largest remaining area of tallgrass prairie.

One of the challenges in developing tourism in the region, is the lack of public access since there are few public lands in Kansas, Jennison said. He and Brownback said that will require working with private landowners to purchase easements for increased tourism opportunities. [ read more ]

Pedal Hopper A Smashing Success

The Pedal Hopper, a bar on wheels, is a success in Lawrence during the warm Spring weather. Sixteen passengers pedal (eight on one side facing each other) as though they are pedaling a bicycle. The owner steers and brakes while the passengers drink beer or soft drinks, sing along to music and hang onto the long wooden bar. The Pedal Pub travels around 5-8 miles per hour. The cost is less than $20 per person for a two-hour tour. Apparently only one other city in America (Minneapolis) has a pedal pub.

Birds Identified Along Landon Trail

Bird watcher Dan Larson of Berryton and a director of Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy who volunteers on the Landon Trail reports that he has seen the following birds along the trail:

  • Canada Goose
  • Wood Duck
  • Blue-winged Teal
  • Wild Turkey
  • Pied-billed Grebe
  • Green Heron
  • Sora
  • American Coot
  • Eurasian Collared Dove
  • Mourning Dove
  • Barred Owl
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • Downy Woodpecker
  • Pileated Woodpecker
  • Great-crested Flycatcher
  • Red-eyed Vireo
  • Blue Jay
  • American Crow
  • Tufted Titmouse
  • House Wren
  • Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
  • Swainson’s Thrush
  • Brown Thrasher
  • Northern Parula
  • Yellow Warbler
  • Common Yellowthroat
  • Lark Sparrow
  • Grasshopper Sparrow
  • Northern Cardinal
  • Rose-breasted Grosbeak
  • Indigo Bunting
  • Dickcissel
  • Red-winged Blackbird
  • Great-tailed Grackle
  • Brown-headed Cowbird
  • Baltimore Oriole
  • American Goldfinch
Kansas Trail NewsKansas Trail News is published monthly by Clark H. Coan, Public Information Specialist for Sunflower Rail-Trails Conservancy, Inc., P.O. Box 44-2043, Lawrence, KS 66044, 785-842-3458. Reprinted with permission. If you have any trail news you’d like to share, please contact us.

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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]

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