Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Johnson County cyclists: suggestions wanted

Below: a rectangle that contains some of the gnarliest highway interchanges in our community.

To me, these represent serious barriers to alternative transportation use. There are five "islands" in that diminutive 12 square mile chunk represented above. Getting from one island to another is often a daunting task. There are only a few roads that cut through without forcing cyclists and pedestrians to "share the road" with a 3 or 4 lane interchange riddled with on-ramps and off-ramps and often no sidewalks, wide lanes, or even shoulders to work with.

This is my neighborhood, folks. I don't live in this rectangle, but I'm just north of it and I do a good chunk of my riding in this area. My job is in this rectangle. I may be participating in a focus group for the Johnson County Gateway Corridor project. While I certainly have my own opinions and thoughts on what could be done to improve the accessibility of this area, I wouldn't mind some opinions from my peers. I see a lot of people riding these streets. Speak up!

What are your suggestions for making things better for alternative transportation, if you had to focus your effort on this little slice of our community?


Josh Mitchell said...


I've got a few thoughts which I'll try to write more on later. However, to distill them there are
1) Establishing certain streets as priority to become bike transportation corridors. Ideally these streets would be ones that extend a long way and do NOT interchange with highways. College, 127th, 143rd, KC Road / Santa Fe Trail Dr, Ridgeview, Pflumm are all potentially great corridors.

Even Renner and Lackman have some potential.

Note, some might argue the KC Road / Santa Fe statement however, I think it's wonderful, especially going north.

2) These corridors need Paint / Signs / Paths (NOT "bigger sidewalks", these have to have priotiry at intersections) that are CONTINUOUS for their entire length on BOTH sides of the street.

Nothing strikes me as more asinine in JOCO as bike lanes that are only marked in the middle of a block and end before an intersection only to resume AFTER the intersection with no signage to support that bicyclists ARE IN FACT allowed to continue on the road. There are some automobilites in JOCO that actually think that no lane means the bikes are supposed to get up on the sidewalk. The majority of automobile / bicycle incidents happen at intersections NOT in the middle of a block. So signage and street paint are MORE important at the intersections. Now, transitioning to Sharrows and Bike Boxes at the intersections would be fine(along with lots of signs stating right turn yield to bikes), I know there is occasionally a space issue in painting an entire bike lane - would make it a joy to ride the length of these streets. As it is, it's frustrating and scary at many of the intersections because most motorists to not understand that bicyclists have a right to placing and using even on sections that are not marked.

Noah said...

I agree completely on signs, and paths, to an extent. I'm not terribly hot on bike lanes. I'd take a really nice, wide outer lane over a marked bike lane, for multiple reasons, not the least of which is the fact that they promote traffic segregation and an us-vs-them attitude. Further, bike lanes are often unkempt and blighted after a short period of time. Check out Ridgeview Road between 143rd and 135th. That's a relatively new bike lane, but it's in horrible condition. Further, the street sweepers don't bother clearing it, whereas they usually scrub all the way to the gutter when there's not a bike lane. Why? No idea, but it happens.

As I take Santa Fe Trail Drive/KC Road daily, I do have some things to add there:

1) Dig up the Railroad sidings that aren't being used any more. You can tell them because they have orange or yellow derailers attached, and the pavement isn't torn up by train traffic. Put decent reinforced crossings in for the sidings that are still used. What's in place now is negligently dangerous.

2) I wish they'd give it a wide outer lane all the way from end-to-end, or at least to Ridgeview. It's only 8 miles long, but very valuable.

Pflumm is generally a good north/south road. Its lanes are plenty wide from just north of College, down to, I believe, 143rd or so. Widening pflumm north of college would be a bonus. Even if they left it at one lane. The stretch near 103rd always feels somewhat treacherous to me. Steep hills mean it's hard to keep up with traffic. Narrow lanes mean cars pass closely even if you take the lane. The hills remove the visibility of passing motorists, who often put themselves and others in harm's way to get around cyclists or other slow moving vehicles.

I would like to see some little trails, like short stretches of MUP that go under the highways at strategic points. Eventually, it'd be nice if they tied some of the existing trail systems together to do this.

Josh Mitchell said...

Noah, yeah I completely agree. If they're looking to add pavement, my comments about bike lanes become very different. Wide lanes + signage (not "share the road" too many drivers believe that means "bikers need to share the road by getting out of the way" I can't remember which other sign I read about that some city is using makes more sense and / or sharrows + bike boxes if we can educate drivers on what they mean) are better than narrowing lanes to add bike lanes.

Also, connecting the current path system and adding branches into neighborhoods / commerce areas / bike friendly streets would be great.

Noah said...

This sign?

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