Tuesday, Nov. 06 2012 3:20PM
Lee’s Summit deemed bike friendly
Bicycle Transportation Plan could result in safer streets
By Russ Pulley
Lee’s Summit recently received a Bronze Bicycle Friendly Community designation from The League of American Bicyclists.
In 2010 and 2011 the city received honorable mentions in the process in which communities apply for the Bicycle Friendly Community designation and are evaluated by the League. It has five levels, diamond (the highest), platinum, gold, silver and bronze.
“Our community receiving the Bronze Bicycle Friendly Community designation creates another positive statement about Lee’s Summit’s commitment to encouraging bicycling as well as our commitment to encouraging sustainable and healthy lifestyle practices among citizens,” Lee’s Summit Mayor Randy Rhoads said.
Ed Kraemer, a member of the city’s Livable Streets Advisory Board who has been active in seeking the designation, said the higher ranking is due in part to the city’s adoption of a Bicycle Transportation Plan in May.
Kraemer said improving bicycle routes was an important priority of Lee’s Summit 360: Charting Tomorrow’s transportation “Key Performance Area.”
The city for several years has worked on the bicycle plan which has officially set bike routes in the city. The document also outlines standards for improving roads, evaluating traffic and for signage.
“It was certainly one of the pieces of the puzzle we needed to get into place to be considered a Bicycle Friendly Community,” Kraemer said. “It really speaks to the future of multimodal transportation in Lee’s Summit.”
Kraemer, a physician, uses his bicycle to commute to the clinic where he works when weather or his schedule permits.
He said the city’s approach to upgrading bicycle routes good plan, but could take seven to 10 years because it will make upgrades to existing roads during its annual rotation of street overlays.
The plan also meshes with the city’s Greenway that includes paved recreational walking and bike paths.
“It’s being very practical and functional,” Kraemer said. “Over time, spending very little additional cash, you can make streets bicycle and pedestrian friendly.”
Kraemer said the city may print weatherproof maps of the routes for residents.
A map showing all the routes is available in the plan which is on the city’s website. To see it go to www.cityofls.net, click on the Public Works link and click on publications. Search for bicycle.
Roughly 70 percent of the plan is in place, because as it depends on local streets as well as some trails in the city’s Greenway Plan. On most of the routes bicycles and cars will share the road.
City Traffic Engineer Michael Park said it had been the only piece lacking in the city’s roadmap for future transportation needs.
The city already had master plans for Thoroughfares, Greenway, Transit such as bus service and a Sidewalk inventory for pedestrians, he said.
In places the bike route will parallel the city’s Greenway plan for recreational walking and cycling.
The city has elected to not put Share-the-Road signs on the bike routes except along certain sections where there won’t be extra wide curbs or paved shoulders. Additional signage will be used for areas where the speed and volume of motorized traffic make additional warnings necessary.
To enhance safety for motorists and cyclists on the road, the city plans to add paved shoulders or create wide curb lanes along the bike routes.
In some sections the city might use a white stripe to designate the shoulder. In many places those are already in place.
A paved shoulder gives cyclists a good riding surface that is out of driving lane, Park said. Legally cyclists can use the same lanes as a motorized vehicle on local roads and have to follow the same traffic laws.
But wider curb lanes or shoulders make a shared road safer and avoids conflicts for motorists and cyclists, Park said.
The city will make upgrades when roads are reconstructed, or in some cases by re-striping an existing road.
For example, Pryor Road, as it’s widened beyond interim standards, will be built to include a paved shoulder.
Another method is “road dieting” where the city takes a four-lane road which is “over built” for the traffic it carries and re-stripes it to three lanes, leaving a wider curb lane.
“Those are cost effective methods,” Park said.
The city has also moved away from using traffic signals dependent on sensors buried within pavement to using visual systems that detect a car or bicyclists to activate signals, Park said.