The city of Hays has recently seen some impressive progress on its bike network.
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:
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.
Of the two local papers, the Hays Daily News appears to be generally supportive:
- Bike Hays supporters celebrate progress
- Riding around Hays, safety first
- For biking, hiking and walking, Hays paints the town white
- Mixed-use roadways
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:
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!