Missouri Bicycling, Walking, Running, and Trails News

Cycling map of KC area online

I have just posted a cycling map of Jackson County, Missouri, that covers all of the southern part of Kansas City (south of the river) and surrounding areas.

It shows many of my own favorite routes and shows many of the best ways to get around difficult obstacles in the area, like freeways and the Blue River Valley. It also shows many continuous routes using only quiet neighborhood streets.

See the Jackson County bicycling maps online on my web site.
Read more

Regular exercise key to maintaining ideal weight

University of Kansas professor Joseph E. Donnelly studies how people lose weight and maintain their weight loss.

The best way to maintain weight loss is to exercise, Donnelly said, adding, "There is nothing that is even a close second." His research suggests a target goal of burning 2,000 calories a week, which equals about five hours of exercise a week. (2000 calories is approximately 40 miles of bicycle riding.)

Donnelly also suggests eating 35 servings of fruits and vegetables per week. Eating 35 servings of fruits and vegetables a week, as federal guidelines suggest, gives a person a lot of nutrition without a lot of calories, Donnelly said. "You get to feel full, and you get to chew," he said.

Craig Weinaug, a participant Donnelly's study, started riding a bicycle to work, a jaunt of almost six miles. On weekends, he often adds 125 to 200 miles on his bike.

"They encourage you to find something that you can adopt as a permanent thing that you like to do," said Weinaug, 50. "I ride unless there is ice on the ground or it's raining."

Read the entire story on the Kansas City Star's web site.
Read more

Input needed on Kansas City transportation funding

The Mid-America Regional Council (MARC), which distributes and coordinates federal transportation money for the entire Kansas City metropolitan area, is soliciting public input on its latest round of "TIP" amendments. These include a number of bike/ped-related projects.

I would encourage you all to look these projects over and give MARC a response. If nothing else, simply write a short email message saying that you support bike & pedestrian projects. If they don't hear from us, they will assume we don't exist . . .

Public input request is at: http://www.marc.org/input.htm.

Send your input to tip@marc.org.

You can read my own response to the TIP amendments on my KC Bicycle Log.
Read more

Olathe, KS, to include bicycle facilities on new overpass

The Kansas City Star reports that Olathe, KS, has been gathering grants and funding for a new overpass over I-35 at 127th Street. The new overpass will not include ramps onto I-35. The new overpass will probably be built 2004-2005. The Star reports:

The latest piece [of funding] is an $840,000 grant from the Mid-America Regional Council announced Monday. That money will be used to expand the six-lane overpass to add a 10-foot-wide bicycle/pedestrian lane. The lane will link trails on the east and west sides of I-35.

"That will hopefully pull bike traffic off 119th and 135th streets," said Merv Gleason, public works program coordinator.

Olathe is also planning a 3.1-mile trail, the "Mahaffie Pedestrian and Bike Trail", that will go north from Olathe North High School. Plans are for the trail to be completed by Spring 2003.
Read more

Learning from Omaha?

Maybe Missouri governments have something to learn from the Omaha Parks and Recreation Department. According to a recent Omaha World Herald story:

Omaha's Parks and Recreation Department pulled in a record $34.7 million this year from outside endowments, grants and foundations.

That is more than what the Kansas City, St. Louis and Lincoln departments combined to draw during a comparable time period.

Those who work with the Omaha Parks Department said the city's success comes from aggressive pursuit of funds, meticulous planning and a record of making good on its promises. . . .

Lyn Wallin Ziegenbein, the Peter Kiewit Foundation's executive director, said the Omaha Parks Department's professionalism is the main reason her organization keeps answering the city's call.

"We find them effective, responsive, accurate, thorough and timely," she said. "That's not always how it works with different groups, but the City Parks Department is like that every single time."
Read more

Raytown postal carrier killed by motorist

A Raytown postal carrier, James Fussell, delivering mail on foot, was killed December 3rd at 5:40 P.M., some time after sunset.

Here are the facts of the case:
  • The collision took place near the corner of 65th Street and Laurel Ave. in Raytown. Laurel Ave. is a quiet neighborhood street with 25 MPH speed limit.
  • The automobile struck Mr. Fussell as he crossed Laurel about 30 feet from the streetlight at the corner of 65th and Laurel.
  • Police determined that the streetlight was operating correctly.
  • As required by postal service regulations (since changed), Mr. Fussell was wearing his dark blue postal carrier's uniform. He was wearing a dark or black coat as well.
  • Postal Carriers have been complaining for years about late starting times that, at this time of year, do not give carriers with big routes enough time to finish their routes before dark. Since the accident, the Postal Service has allowed carriers in this area to start earlier.
  • The immediate area has several bright Christmas light displays that might be distracting to drivers.
  • The automobile driver was not charged.

Coverage of this incident:
Read more

Major article in St. Louis Post-Dispatch about bicycle advocacy

An article in this weekend's St. Louis Post-Dispatch talks about the various bicycle advocacy groups in the St. Louis area, and the progress that is being made in making St. Louis more bicycle friendly.

The article talks about the major advocacy organizations in St. Louis: "Critical Mass has defined itself as unaligned and unorganized, designed to confront motorists. TrailNet, which has been around since 1988, has advocated for greater opportunities for cyclists in general but has focused on trails. And in between is the St. Louis Regional Bicycle Federation, which formed in November 2001 as an umbrella group to advocate for all cyclists."

"Over the years, TrailNet has acquired four corridors for bike trails and has grown from a group of volunteers to 16 employees who provide professional planning to local government agencies.

"The idea for the federation came about two years ago, when members of TrailNet and Critical Mass decided "we need to row in the same direction," said Bob Foster, the federation president."

Read the rest of the story on the STLToday web site. (Slightly different versions here and here.)
Read more

St. Louis-area traffic plan opposed by business owners

STLToday reports: Everyone in the Southampton neighborhood agrees the area has a serious speeding problem, but not everyone sees eye to eye on how to solve it. . . .

Businesses say they would not endorse the multi-phased plan developed by the neighborhood association. The association last January put together a task force that worked with engineers and traffic experts to design the plan. . . .

"Neck downs'" force drivers to slow down by reducing lane width by extending the curb into the street along the corners.

Businesses owners fear that narrowed-down street corners will take away needed space for deliveries and parking.

Neighborhood association president Phil Klevorn said neck-downs would be only placed on the corners and would not narrow down the entire street nor would they take away parking space.

If I may editorialize:
  • A nationally known urban designer found that "in all the surveys he has done around shopping districts, the biggest problems are not security issues. They are traffic issues-the speed of vehicles, the noise of vehicles, the congestion." (See Dom Nozzi's page.)

  • Traffic calming often has such a beneficial effect on neighboring businesses that the increase in tax revenues alone pays for the traffic calming project.

This means that business owners ought to be the biggest supporters of the road calming measures. It is unfortunate that they were not brought into the decision-making process sooner. If they understood the reasons for the changes and the benefits they will bring, and if they felt themselves a part of the decision-making process, their opinion of the project would likely be far different.
  • Study after study has shown that posted speed limits, enforcement, and even stop signs and stop lights have very little effect on vehicle speed. Drivers set their speed by how the road looks. To change vehicle speed, you must change the way the road looks to drivers.

This means that the business owners, in opposing the "neck downs", are likely opposing the part of the project that is likely to benefit them the most--by having the biggest effect on lower traffic speed and making the area more comfortable for pedestrians.

Traffic calming has been used successfully in various cities around the U.S., Europe, and the world. The idea is new to much of the Midwest, and so traffic-calming proposals often face opposition. But once well-designed traffic calming measures are in place, residents--and especially business owners--often find themselves supporting what they previously opposed. Here are typical results:

Read the entire article about the traffic plan for Southampton on the St. Louis Today web site.
Read more

America Bikes' "Haikus to Congress" campaign

Poetic cyclists are invited to sharpen their pencils for the "Haikus to Congress" contest, sponsored by America Bikes. "While haikus aren't a traditional advocacy tool, they capture the magic of bicycling." says Martha Roskowski, campaign manager for America Bikes. "We're using every means available to convince Congress to include strong provisions for bicycling in the 2003 federal transportation bill. While we won't be wandering the Halls of Congress spouting Haikus, we may find the perfect moment for one."

Entrants are invited to submit Haikus on any of America Bikes priorities: Safe Routes to School, trails and pathways, or safe roads for all users. Haikus contain three unrhymed lines of five, seven and five syllables. Haikus can be submitted at www.americabikes.org until midnight on January 31st.

Haikus will be judged by an assemblage of literary geniuses hand selected from the bicycle community for their in-depth knowledge and understanding of the Haiku. The winner will receive rain gear, courtesy of Burley Design Cooperative, designed to shed water and to be lightweight, comfortable and stylish.

America Bikes is inspiring more people to ride bicycles by creating a safe, efficient, and well connected transportation system for bicycling and walking as an integral part of healthy communities. America Bikes is a coalition of eight major national bicycling organizations focused on the reauthorization of TEA-21 in 2003.

In additional to submitting Haikus, America Bikes encourages businesses, organizations and individuals to endorse the America Bikes agenda and learn other ways to get involved by visiting www.americabikes.org.

Susan Byrne Klasmeier
Program Manager
America Bikes
Read more

Satellite imagery of KC-area mtn bike trails

"Olathe Joe" used his GPS unit to track his rides on several KC-area mountain bike trails, then used the TrekAnalysis web page to overlay his movements on actual satellite photos of the area. The result is a series of neat satellite maps of the trails.

You can compare the satellite maps to descriptions of, directions to, and maps of the same trails on Earthriders.org.

Read more

"Sharing the road" in Press Journal

The following letter by Paul Wojciechowski appeared in the St. Louis-area Press Journal last week:

Dear Editor:

There were comments recently regarding interaction of motorists and bicyclist in the West County area of the St. Louis Metro Region. Many of the critics of bicycles using the area roadways have some valid points, but mainly they very close minded to the benefits and assets bicycling and bicycle accommodations on roadways are to the general public. Here are health and transportation benefits to bicycle use.

I myself am a certified effective cyclist, which means I ride my bicycle on area roadways and behave like a typical vehicle on the roadway. This means I stop at stop signs and traffic signals, ride with the flow of traffic, signal all turns, ride right, ride single file and respect all vehicles and pedestrians on the roadway. All of these apply when I am in my car or van also. It is the way licensed drivers behave. There is no exception for cyclists. I see cyclists run red lights and stop signs, it frustrates me, mainly because it really gives motorists an uncertain feeling when a bicyclist is present. Bicyclist must obey the basic rules of the road and behave like another vehicle; this is the way they fare best.

I do not ride on trails for the most part. Yes, they have there place in the transportation network, but for the most part, do not carry cyclists to real destinations such as school, work and other activity centers. This is why many cyclists use roads. Cyclists also use roadways when their speeds are too hazardous for trails. Many road riders travel at 17 to 25 miles per hour average speed, which is much too fast for the recreational trails that accommodate joggers and people walking dogs, or children riding their bikes.

The sooner motorists realize that roadways are multi-modal facilities, the sooner we can all get along together and “Share the Road”. I pay gas tax just like most other bicyclists and yes my family has two motor vehicles, I have a right as a citizen in the community to use our roadways for transportation purposes. Whether I walk, ride my bike or drive my car, as long as I respect the rules of the road, I have a right to use the roadway.

When making a bike trip to the store or work you are taking a step in reducing traffic on the roadways, something we should all strive to accomplish. Our older kids should be able to ride their bikes to a friend’s house safely, and not depend on mom or dad.

In general, most roadways with good shoulders or wide outside lanes, such as Clarkson Road or Clayton Road, can accommodate cars and bikes safely. Next time you see a cyclist on the road, don’t get angry that you have to share, or yell and honk at the cyclist, you are slowing down traffic doing so. Just share the road, and realize that there is one less car on the road you have to sit behind at a traffic signal.


Paul L. Wojciechowski, AICP, P.E.
16939 Westridge Oaks Drive
Grover, MO 63040

Read more

"Crazy" transportation ideas?

Road intersections should be raised to pavement level to give priority to pedestrians . . . in 1971, 80% of seven- and eight-year-old children went to school on their own, by 1990 only 9% were making the journey unaccompanied, with more than four times as many seven- to 11-year-olds being driven in 1990 compared with 20 years earlier . . . [the] view that the roads are safer because the accident rate has gone down is deeply flawed . . . Quite the opposite. Child road deaths have fallen because there aren't many children near them any more. . . .Children's lives have been evolving in a way that mirrors the characteristics of the lives of criminals in prison. They, too, have a roof over their heads, regular meals and entertainment provided for them, but they are not free to go out. . . . Fifty years ago, cycle mileage exceeded car mileage. Now it's the other way around. While most children own a bicycle, few are allowed to use it as a means of transport . . . Compared with walking, bicycling has the potential to expand a person's geographical catchment area 10- to 15-fold . . . A new Danish road traffic act in 1976 made it the police and traffic authority's responsibility, in consultation with schools, to protect children from traffic on their way to and from school. They created a network of traffic-free foot and cycle paths, established low-speed areas, narrowed roads and introduced traffic islands. Accidents fell by 85%. In Denmark, more than 20% of all journeys are made by bicycle . . . for every life year lost through accidents [while bicycling], 20 are gained through improved health and fitness.

Crazy or prophetic? You be the judge--but a surprising number of the "crazy" ideas of British thinker and transportation planner Mayer Hillman have become "common knowledge" and the basis of policy in various countries around the world. Read more about Hillman in the Guardian.
Read more