Kansas City Council approves bike lanes connecting downtown with surrounding areas

Last month, the Kansas City Council approved a plan to add bike lanes to a network of streets connecting downtown Kansas City with surrounding areas. Kansas City Star reporter Mike Hendricks wrote:

Eleven years after the city adopted a plan to promote bicycling on city streets, bikes lanes are finally coming to Kansas City. 

BikeKC Map detail - Click to visit BikeKC website and download full map
BikeKC Map detail

On Thursday, the City Council approved plans for striping nearly 12 miles of bike lanes through the heart of downtown next year, with links to the city’s east side and the Kansas suburbs.

It’s the second significant milestone reached recently as the city works to implement the Bike KC plan adopted in 2002. Only this spring did bike route signs begin to appear along the first 175 miles of the 600-mile system envisioned in Bike KC.

Although frustrated with the city’s slow pace — Chicago, Washington, D.C. and even Columbia have been striping bike lanes for many years — local cycling advocates say they welcome the latest developments.

“It’s been the most amazing kind of struggle to get this implemented,” said Brent Hugh, head of the Missouri Bicycle and Pedestrian Federation. “You hate to be critical now that, after all of these years of trouble and travail, we’re finally doing it.”

The recently approved bike lanes complement the recently announced BikeKC route map180 miles of route marking signs the city has recently installed, as well as the city's new bike sharing program, Kansas City B Cycle. The B Cycle stations are concentrated in the central city area where the new bike lanes will be installed.

The new bike lanes are one of the centerpieces of the city's bike plan that has been over 30 years in the making. A 2008 BBC story on what it was like to bicycle in one of the worst U.S. cities for bicycling galvanized the mayor to declare that the city is going to "go from worst to first."

Since that time, the city has implemented a number of programs, moved forward with implementing its long-delayed bicycle plan, adopted a city-wide Complete Streets resolution, received Bronze-level recognition as a Bicycle Friendly Community, and is now working to update the city bicycle plan. 

Kudos go to KCMO Bike/Ped Coordinator Deb Ridgeway, who has worked tirelessly to implement the city's bike plan and improve policies and programs, the city's Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Committee, and regional advocacy organization BikeWalkKC, which has worked over the past few years to spur the city's bicycle and pedestrian implementation forward.