Thursday, March 08, 2007

127th Street Widening - Meeting Tonight

I swear I'm not becoming one of those anti-car, bicycle activist zealots.

But this is really important. As you probably know, I ride my bike over the new 127th street bridge almost daily (or at least I did before I busted my face, and I will again once I heal up). Also, I usually take 127th home from the Daily Dose or JCCC, in which I have to navigate the stretch of road in question. 127th between Mur-Len and Pflumm is only one lane in each direction. The eastern half of this stretch of road is particularly treacherous because it's hilly and curvy which makes it hard to see far ahead. The road also has rough shoulders that are not suitable for walking or cycling on, and until right before you get to the Indian Creek MUP, there's no sidewalk either. At night, to top it off, it's poorly lit. This is a serious problem area. East of Pflumm (Overland Park city limits), 127th is very wide, well-lit, and friendly to cycle on, as well as having wide sidewalks on either side.

The first phase, between Mur-Len and Black Bob, isn't quite as scary to ride on, but it's less than ideal. With 127th street being one mile north and south of two busy roads, it's far enough out of the way to keep hurried highway-bound motorists away while still bridging a huge gap between western Olathe and Overland Park. The potential is so great, but the bottlenecks on 127th make it unattractive.

If you're in the area, I encourage you to show up tonight and voice your opinion. Eric from KCBike.Info said that there's a good chance that people who live near the stretch of road will likely show up to rally against the city widening the road near their homes. In that respect, no one likes construction noise, but growing pains are to be expected in suburbia; It comes with the turf. I'm all for keeping the speed limit at or below 35 MPH to reduce traffic noise, danger to pedestrians, children, and cyclists as well. I think this plan could really work well, but only if they have good input.

I plan on attending.

Public Meeting:
Thursday, November 7, 7:00-9:00 p.m.
Indian Creek Library, 12990 Black Bob Road, Olathe, KS

Story on KCBike.Info - with maps and information on the project, its meetings, timeline and goals.


Anonymous said...

Widening a road will increase the speed the traffic flows, making it even more dangerous for cyclists. In addition, more access won't alleviate congestion; it will likely lead to even greater congestion. This is explained by "induced demand," "then phenomenon that after supply increases, more of a good is consumed." (See

Unless you're widening a road to install separated bike lanes — the post was a *little* dense — a biker would be crazy to get behind this.

Noah said...

I would tactfully argue. I spend a lot of time riding on two-lane (in each direction) roads, including all the other portions of this particular stretch. I believe that widening it and adding a bike lane (with or without an additional traffic lane) would be much safer than having a single narrow lane in each direction that's a hilly, winding road without shoulders.

The other parts of this road are not "high speed" nor are they dangerous to ride a bicycle on. The road doesn't have any highway access, and is riddled with entrances to subdivisions and approximately one major intersection every mile. Since you're posting anonymously, I have no idea where you're from, but if you're near Johnson County, Kansas, you should take ride on 127th street from end to end. Believe me, you'll agree that the two miles between Pflumm and Mur-Len need some help.

Anonymous said...

I'm from New York City, and I'm sure my experience doesn't apply to this stretch of road. But from the civic engineering I've read, narrower roads are better for bicycles. Here's another link that's very pertinent. I do like your blog, by the way.

Anonymous said...

Let's try that URL again.

Noah said...

Thanks for the link, but a narrow road without room for a car, a three foot buffer, and a bicycle is always going to be a dangerous road for a bicycle. No cyclist in their right mind would choose to ride on the narrow section of 127th in favor of the wider sections. That's all I'm saying.

Noah said...

I'd say the meeting was a mixed success. Kind of. The turn-out was great, with a large representation by the cyclists. The only positive comment I heard was one PRAISE for the bike lanes and Olathe's foresight.

Mostly, the lynch mob of nearby residents showed up in force, cranking up the heat and tension in the already crowded meeting room (standing room only) about how Olathe is going to "steal" their property. A lot of sarcasm and spite filled the room, which I believe led to the somewhat pre-mature shutdown of comments and questions.

Noah said...

FYI, I chose to e-mail my comments from this week's meetings. They provided a flyer with questions. I tackled those questions as followed:

Feedback from this week's public meeting

1) I STRONGLY SUPPORT improving 127th street.

On trips less than 10-12 miles, I will often choose to use my bicycle to get around. This includes bicycling to and from JO Bus Stops, coffee shops, to visit my wife working at JCCC, and even to pay my bills. I frequently utilize 127th street because it lacks highway access and because for the most part, it's a wide and safe road to use. The section that's in question is in dire need of improvements.

2) Landscaping along 127th is SOMEWHAT IMPORTANT.

I am proud of my community, and feel that tasteful landscaping can be aesthetically pleasing, but I would ask for balance between desire to provide landscaping with the desires of nearby residents to maintain control of as much of their property as possible.

3) I OCCASIONALLY use trails in the area.
With the weather starting to warm up, I am making more recreational trips on my bicycle as well. My utilization of these trails will increase very soon.

4) I STRONGLY FAVOR bike lanes along 127th street.
Of particular notice, I would recommend that the design paradigm for Olathe's bicycle lanes be changed to facilitate a bike lane being provided all the way to the crosswalk. I understand why other bicycle lanes in Olathe have not provided this amenity, but those restrictions do not need to be applied to this project. Intersections are a very dangerous place for a bicycle. I was recently run off the road near an intersection on Strang Line road, in which -- despite wearing my helmet -- I sustained two skull fractures in my face as well as two broken teeth. Please consider taking bicycle lanes to the crosswalk with this project.

5) The information presented at this meeting was VERY INFORMATIVE.
Although more people than expected seemed to show up to rally around the project with sensationalism, I am glad that I was able to attend and see first-hand the people working on the project. I am looking forward to the next meeting and will keep an eye on the website as details develop.

General Comments:
Provided above with answers to questions.

6) Yes, I had visited the site before attending the meeting.

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