Location: EL

Hays Bike Network Taking Shape

The city of Hays has recently seen some impressive progress on its bike network.

The Bike Hays Master Plan was passed in 2012, and the city applied for Transportation Enhancement funding in February 2013, and was selected to receive a Transportation Enhancement grant by KDOT.

The initial stage of the bike plan has just been implemented, with about 9 miles of a planned 21-mile system now in place. The bike plan calls for trails, bike lanes and sharrows to designate bike routes throughout the community.

Here is a look at some of the pieces in place around town:

Bike Hays bike rack at city hall.

Bike Hays bike rack at city hall.

Cyclists riding the new Hays bike lanes.

Cyclists riding the new Hays bike lanes.

Some of the bike lanes appear to be in the door zone.

Some of the bike lanes appear to be in the door zone.

Sharrows on a street with front-in angle parking.

Sharrows on a street with front-in angle parking.

Some sharrows appear to be installed in the door zone.

Some sharrows appear to be installed in the door zone.

Sharrows with tilted chevrons indicate a turn in the bike route.

Sharrows with tilted chevrons indicate a turn in the bike route.

Local Reaction

I asked Assistant Hays City Manager Paul Briseno about the local reaction to the bike plan implementation. There had been a few negative comments, he said, but overall most people were supportive, and he suspected that once people became accustomed to the bike network, there would be a demand for additional bicycling infrastructure throughout the community.

A couple of anecdotes:

As my friend Lori and I were out exploring town, a local driver stopped us and asked what the strange new markings on the street were for. They were sharrows, we explained. They help remind drivers to expect bicycle traffic, and they help cyclists find the safest routes around town. That seemed to satisfy his curiosity. “Well, as long as they help keep everyone safe, that sounds like a good thing.”

The next morning, we stopped at the local McDonalds for a quick breakfast. As we were preparing to leave, an older gentleman walked up to me and asked, “Are you the ones taking over our streets”? “Pardon?” I responded. “Those bicycles painted all over town, what a damn waste of money!” Several other surly older men then sat down and pushed our gear off to the edge of the table without a word. We took the hint and left. Guess we must have met some of the local curmudgeons. Plus, apparently we were at “their” regular table. No wonder they were grumpy.

Local Reaction

Of the two local papers, the Hays Daily News appears to be generally supportive:

While the Hays Post simultaneously reports on the progress, and tries to gin up a controversy:

Learn More About Bike Hays

The Bike Hays web site provides additional information, including a copy of the Bike Hays Master Plan and the Transportation Enhancement Grant Application, as well as videos illustrating bicycle safety.

There is also a Bike Hays Biking Guide, which includes a map of the network, a description of the various routes and trails, and information about bicycle safety for both cyclists and motorists:

Bike Hays Biking Guide

The local grumbling is a bit disconcerting, but that will pass soon enough, as people realize the changes are all for the good.

Of more concern is the questionable placement of some of the on-street facilities. Door-zone bike lanes and door-zone sharrows can put bicyclists into a very dangerous position.

Still, it’s exciting to see Hays follow thorough on their ambitious bicycle master plan. The implementation of the Bike Hays network has the potential to make Hays one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the state!

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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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