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June 5, 2013

Bike Lanes in KC

With warmer weather arriving and three active children in our household, I find myself putting on my chauffer hat to make sure everyone is on time to practices and games, however after leaving a heavily attended soccer practice (Stump Park in Shawnee, Kansas) I was concerned when I saw the line of parked cars along the back of the curb IN the bike lane.  This, of course, is despite the sign prohibiting parking along Woodland Road.  The pavement is striped and marked and the roadway is designated for bikes.  This segment of bike lane extends from 47th Street to Shawnee Mission Parkway.  It also provides connections to Clear Creek recreational trail and the county's Gary L. Haller Trail throughout Shawnee Mission Park.

In working with communities on alternative transportation routes, I found myself asking how this dangerous situation happens.  Is there confusion about what a bike route vs. a bike lane means?  Do drivers of automobiles not understand that by parking in this lane, cyclists will have to move out into automobile traffic when they reach the obstacles?  Is there too little enforcement of the rules?  Perhaps there is just absolutely nowhere else to park?  

What I can determine is that, as advocates, we need to continue our education efforts so that cyclists can safely navigate the infrastructure we as tax payers are providing.  There are too many proven benefits to offering alternative transportation options for residents of these communities and the region as a whole, to not be supportive.  Respecting the posted signs is just one easy way we can be supportive and protect the experience and safety of those individuals using their bicycles for health and/or tranportation.

Photo Credit:  Senna McMullen, KC Fusion #6