The US Census Bureau has just released a survey of American commuting habits, and the data for bicycle commuting in KC is pretty bad. Kansas City ranks dead last in bike commuting. 50th place out of 50 cities. The survey counted a paltry 50 bike commuters among KCMO’s 216,000 workers, which rounds to 0.0%. Second to last Memphis has over 4 times the number of bike commuters. Portland, Oregon came in first of course, but even unlikely cities like Wichita, Omaha, Dallas, etc. ranked much higher than Kansas City.
But the news isn’t all bad. I really think things have changed quite a bit since this survey was done in 2005. This year we had almost four hundred bicyclists in the Commuter Challenge. I see more bikes all over the city, especially Downtown and Midtown. It’s not scientific, but I have a gut feeling that there are a lot more than 50 bike commuters in 2007. And there are many specific signs of progress in the city…
- For the first time we have a mayor and city council who claim to be bike friendly, although they still have to show us some tangible proof of this new attitude.
- It is very encouraging that the city has just hired our first full-time bicycle and pedestrian coordinator to oversee all of the city’s bike/ped programs and facilitate some forward motion.
- The city’s new climate protection plan includes goals to increase the rate of bicycling.
- A new law to require bicycle parking at most businesses, schools, apartments, etc is in the works and hopefully due to arrive later this year.
This news should serve as a wake-up call for the city get serious about increasing our rate of bicycling. In classic KC fashion, we have some good plans, but they are sitting on the shelf just waiting on the bureaucrats to act and the politicians to lead. If the mayor and city council are really serious about making a change then it is time for them to start producing results:
- Implement the BikeKC plan for a network of bike routes all over the city. Start creating bike lanes as streets are resurfaced, expanded, or built.
- Incorporate bike parking into all new developments, from small apartment buildings to giant TIF projects like the Power & Light District.
- Budget money for bikes so that the city budget finally has a permanent, reliable funding stream to pay for all of these facilities and programs.
- Adopt a Complete Streets policy to require all city streets to accommodate all users – motorists, bicyclists, pedestrians, wheelchairs, etc.