Archive for Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Overland Park approves 165-mile bicycle network

April 15, 2015

— Overland Park officials have approved spending $27 million over several years to install 165 miles of bicycle lanes throughout the city.

The council voted Monday to implement a plan that will match lanes installation with street resurfacing and other reconstruction projects.

The Kansas City Star reports supporters of the plan said more people are riding bikes and proper infrastructure is needed to improve safety for cyclists and vehicle drivers.

"People aren't dependent on automobiles anymore and they don't want to own two or three cars," said Councilman Curt Skoog. "We need to provide proper infrastructure as interest in biking grows. I think it's an important step for Overland Park."

Only council member Terry Goodman voted against the plan. He said he supports cycling but thought the money could be better spent on repairing streets and hiring more public safety officers.

"When I look at the feel-good proposition of adding bike lanes compared to addressing the real needs of our Overland Park citizens, I'm troubled," he said.

Some council members noted that funding would be approved as each project came before the council, and the project could be stopped at any time.

Another dissenter was Mark Struechli, a former senior transportation planner for the city. He supports creating a bicycle network, but is troubled because the plan calls for narrowing some thoroughfares to include the bike lanes. Struechli is concerned the narrowness could lead to serious accidents.

However, Brian Shields, the city traffic engineer, said the plan had been researched thoroughly and there was no harm in narrowing streets for bike lanes.

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