The push to make Kansas City, Missouri more bike friendly begins in earnest Thursday. Planners from the city’s staff will unveil a draft of the new Bike KC master plan Thursday prior to the first open house to gather feedback on the plan from the community. City staff members hope to bring the master plan to the full city council for approval in late March or early April.
Full implementation of the plan calls for between $387 and $418 million in infrastructure changes, educational campaigns, and other suggestions over the next several years.
In 2016, a report by the city auditor found the city’s current bike plan did not provide the proper guidance to help the city achieve its goal of becoming a platinum level bike friendly city by 2020 as determined by the League of American Bicyclists.
The city manager directed the planning department to develop a new master plan using recommendations from the audit to give the city better guidance and vision for bicycling. The idea to audit cycling around Kansas City came from the public. It is one of six publicly recommended topics the auditor has addressed or is addressing since 2014. To view the Bike KC audit, click here.
Joe Blankenship, a city planner who worked on the plan, said demand for bicycling is growing in Kansas City and this plan helps the city support that growth.
The plan focuses on building facilities (like bike lanes and bike sharing programs) and support (like skills classes) to turn people who are nervous about cycling into comfortable road cyclists.
Blankenship said some of the return on investment for committing money to a bike program is intangible.
“Do you meet more of your neighbors, is our city becoming more fit, do we have a variety of options to get where we’re coming from as opposed to relying on one way to getting around,” Blankenship asked.
Some reports show other cities have dedicated money to new bike trails, lanes and programs only to see bicycle riding drop. Blankenship said questionnaires which attempt to measure bike ridership exclude many cyclists.
“New technologies like dockless scooters, and more access to Uber and Lyft rides also impact that. It doesn’t mean that there’s not a need for growing our city’s infrastructure and growing our bicycle program. What it means is there is a variety of ways of getting around every city in the country right now and it’s an exciting time for transportation,” he pointed out.
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