Kansas City Trails Plan moving forward

Kansas City's new initiative to create a trails plan is moving forward:
Hiking and biking trails consistently rank at or near the top of the recreational amenities people say they want.

They are increasingly important in deciding where to live or to locate a business.

And Kansas City is woefully short of them.

“We are trail poor,” said Shannon Jaax of the Kansas City planning department. “And we’re falling behind fast.”

The city is working on a plan to catch up, but it will be a hike. Although sprawling over 300 square miles, Kansas City has only about 25 miles of paved trails. Johnson County has more than 200 miles of paved city and county trails and is building new ones all the time.

“We can’t build them fast enough,” said Bill Maasen, planning and development manager for the Johnson County Park and Recreation District. “People want more, and they hate it when there’s a missing link.”

It’s not just a Kansas thing.

“Trails are spreading like wildfire across the country,” said Pam Gluck, executive director of American Trails in Redding, Calif. “You can hardly find a community that is not developing a trail plan or actively developing trails.”

The interest in trails is rooted in recreation, health and alternate modes of transportation, Gluck said. It’s a quality-of-life issue.
Kansas City area bicycling, walking, and running clubs, including the Kansas City Coalition for Walking and Bicycling and the Missouri Bicycle Federation, are involved in the steering committee for the new plan.

The plan's funding was championed by Russ Johnson, now a Kansas City, Missouri, Councilman and liaison for the council to bicycle and pedestrian groups.