New Paseo Bridge to include space for bike/ped

The Missouri Bicycle Federation has been working in cooperation with a coalition of Kansas City area bicycle and pedestrian groups to help create the first safe bicycle and pedestrian crossing of the Missouri River in the Kansas City area.

Plans for the new, $255 million Paseo Bridge project were announced recently.

A KCStar story summarized the situation from the bicycle/pedestrian point of view:

Bicycling interests left Wednesday’s announcement satisfied because the design includes the possibility of adding a lane for pedestrians and bikes sometime in the future.

“They said what they were going to do and they did it,” said Brent Hugh, executive director of the Missouri Bicycle Federation.

There is still much work to be done before any bicycle/pedestrian crossing of the Missouri River is in place in Kansas City.

But things are looking up. Over two years of advocacy with MoDOT and local, regional, and state officials have left us in this situation:

  • Deck space on the Paseo Bridge for a bike/ped river crossing. Deck space is at least 80% of the trouble and cost of a river crossing.

  • Now local groups will have to work to make the Paseo bike/ped crossing a reality by getting cities and other groups to make the last 20% happen--the bicycle/pedestrian approaches to the bridge and the levee trails and road connections on either side of the bridge.

  • As a by-product of the advocacy efforts around bicycle/pedestrian accommodation on the Paseo Bridge, MoDOT is working to do two other nearby river crossings:

    1. Create a bicycle/pedestrian path on the nearby Heart of America bridge by 2012 (we need to work to speed up that timetable

    2. Create connections to and improve the crossing for bicyclists and pedestrians at the nearby Chouteau Bridge.

The end result of this may well be three Missouri River crossings in this area--which is three more than Kansas City has now.

When Portland worked to make its four river bridges bicycle/pedestrian friendly, that was one of the most important keys that allowed the city to double the amount of walking and bicycling in the space of a decade.

The amount of walking and bicycling in the Kansas City metro area is currently below half of the national average. One big reason for that is the metro area is cut into by the river--and until now, bicyclists and pedestrians have had no way to get across safely.

Area organizations and cities are now working together toward a goal of doubling the amount of walking and bicycling in the metro area over the space of a decade--and getting the safe river crossings in place is a vitally important part of that effort.