Pitch Weekly sums up KC's bicycling situation

Cyclist Ben Paynter writing in Pitch Weekly's KC Strip column this week takes on Kansas City's less-than-optimal bicycling situation:

Back in April, the Mid-America Regional Council reported that from 2000 to 2004, bike crashes accounted for 4.74 percent of traffic fatalities in Greater Kansas City. That's about three times as high as the national average. From 2000 to 2004, MARC reported, 897 cyclists were injured and 11 were killed on our ever-lovin' city streets. . . .

But this sleuthing sirloin has found that Kansas City, Missouri, city planners had a plan that could have stopped the carnage years ago.

In 2002, the City Council created Bike KC, an initiative backed by $1.7 million in federal grant money handed out by MARC that would have added "Share the Road" signs and bike racks — and eventually widened or restriped roads to create more bike lanes — on more than 600 miles of metro roads. Councilwoman Becky Nace reportedly wore a shirt that read "Kansas City Rolls Forward" when the council signed off on the plan.

And at first, the city did roll forward. Bike carriers popped up on buses, and shiny bike racks appeared in Ilus Davis Park, across from City Hall. But since then, officials have been spinning their wheels. The Strip couldn't recall seeing a new "Share the Road" sign in, like, forever, so it called the Public Works Department's development manager, Patty Hilderbrand, to figure out what the hell was going on.

Hilderbrand told this pissed-off pedaler that the plans for hazard mitigation, street racks and signs were put on hold months ago.

"The delay was completely based on a shortage of staff, and this now is a prioritized project," Hilderbrand promised. She added that just this month, her department finally sent the Missouri Department of Transportation its proposal for how to spend the federal money MARC planned for back in 2002. Their motivation: a possible use-it-or-lose-it situation.

Read the rest of the article here.

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