Addressing Concerns about the New Bike Master Plan

A number of individuals have reached out to BikeWalkKC to ask about the concerns that were brought up by those in opposition. Rather than try to answer each one individually, we wanted to use a blog post to identify and address the most frequent concerns we’ve heard so far.

By now, you’ve probably heard that the updated Bike KC Master Plan went before a joint committee on Thursday, April 18, the final step before being considered by the full KCMO City Council.

BikeWalkKC was in attendance, and along with more than 400 petition signatures, letters of support from partner organizations, and advocates, we made a strong case for the adoption of the plan. This was despite a vocal minority of individuals who came to the meeting to oppose the plan. Before the committee could vote, however, the members lost a quorum and another meeting must now be scheduled.

While we wait for the next meeting, we wanted to address some of the most repeated concerns that were made by those in opposition at the meeting. They are listed below:

  • The opposition has concerns about Armour Boulevard. Several of those in attendance expressed concerns about the design and implementation of the Armour Boulevard bike lanes (some of which we share); the City representatives explained that additional work is being done to improve those issues, such as sight lines and traffic merging. We need to give them time to make those changes. Armour is currently the first and only protected bikeway in KCMO. City Hall is actively listening to concerns and will be making adjustments in the future. Lessons learned on Armour Boulevard will ensure the next protected bikeways are better designed from the beginning.
  • There has been a lack of input on the plan. A number of people who attended the meeting argued that they were not informed of the plan and  were not able to provide input on the plan before it started the legislative process. This argument ignores the 1,500 people who responded to surveys, mapping exercises, and public meetings over the past two years. It ignores the student focus groups, rolling bike meetings, and demonstration events during the planning process.

    It also ignores the monthly updates that were made to the City’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, which is described by the City as “the formal means through which active citizen participation is provided to advise the mayor and City Council on policy and implementation for bicycle and pedestrian issues.” BikeWalkKC has participated in and observed dozens of public engagement processes. In our view, the bike plan process was one of the most extensive, inclusive, and creative ones we’ve seen.

  • The plan will cost the City too much and take away from other issues that need to be addressed. The estimated cost of the phased plan ranges from $387 to $418 million, but this price tag needs to be placed within the proper context. First, this is not a lump sum; this cost would come over a number of years, with each individual project requiring vetting by the public and approval by the City Council. Second, the funding will come from a mix of sources, including the GO Bond’s set aside for Complete Streets, the 1% Citywide Sales Tax, existing federal resources, and even grants. These are dollars that are supposed to be used to make our streets safer for everyone, including cyclists. Pages 96-99 of the plan itself detail both existing and new funding tools that the City can use.

    If the City Council adopts this bike plan, it does not raise taxes, create a new funding source, or take money away from other pressing needs like housing or crime prevention.

To be clear, these were not all of the arguments that we heard from the opposition. However, they were the ones that were most repeated by those in attendance at the committee meeting.

While we welcome the opportunity to debate the merits of the plan and understand that it is not perfect for everyone, BikeWalkKC maintains that the Bike KC Master Plan is not only better than its predecessor, but a necessity to help Kansas City reach a number of its own stated goals. That is why we will be at the next meeting to reassert our support for the plan, along with our partners and fellow advocates.

As the plan states, “The Bike KC Master Plan is a starting point and steering document. The Plan should function as a guidepost to help city staff and the community make decisions related to bicycling infrastructure, programs, and policies.”

If you’d like to share your support of the bike plan with your council members and the mayor, you can click here. If you don’t live in KCMO, but still want to support the plan, you can sign on to this petition.

Did you know? BikeWalkKC’s advocacy efforts are member-supported! You can lend your voice to our work by becoming a member today. And get the latest on bicycle- and pedestrian-related happenings when you subscribe to our newsletter!

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