Little by little, Wichita is tying its segments of off-street bike paths together.
The latest link, which opened Friday, ties the popular K-96 trail that runs through mostly natural areas to the Canal Route path that parallels the sometimes funky-smelling waterway in the shadows of the I-135 flyover.
Eventually, the new 2.5-mile McAdams bike path will probably become part of an approximately 28-mile loop on the city's east side.
It's exciting news for bicyclists like Amy Delamaide, a 31-year-old Wichitan.
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"I look forward to not just go in circles on the bike paths but to connect from destination to destination," she said.
She said she and her husband rode the McAdams bike path between K-96 and the Canal Route last weekend — though it wasn't quite finished.
"Before, I did a lot of street riding and I was like 'yeah, we need bike lanes,' " she said. "But the more street riding I do, the more I like the paths."
The Canal Route path runs almost to K-15 before it crosses over I-135 and links to another trail running through the Planeview neighborhood, before linking to the Gypsum Creek trail that riders can follow to Douglas just north of Towne East Square.
Alternatively, riders can continue east along Pawnee at Cessna Park. The city is working on plans to link that route with the K-96 path via Greenwich Road.
The city is also finishing its design of another path that will link the Gypsum Creek trail to the Arkansas River path via Chapin and Garvey parks in south Wichita.
And it has begun construction of the Redbud trail, which follows an abandoned railroad track from the Canal Route near Central northeast to about the 17th and Oliver intersection.
That should be done in late 2012.
Scott Wadle, a senior planner with the city, said everyone will have an opportunity to shape the city's forthcoming bicycle master plan, probably during meetings this summer.
Meanwhile, he provided a list of priorities identified two years ago when the parks department created a plan.
The McAdams and Redbud trails tied for the top priorities.
The K-96 to Harry Street connection came in third and a path from the Arkansas River to Haysville followed.
In a 2007 survey that involved 456 random people in Wichita, the city found that bike paths rank second only to pocket parks in terms of what people want from the parks system.
Of the 260 people who said they don't use the city's trails, 23 percent said they're not interested, 19 percent don't know where the trails are, 19 percent said the paths are too far away, 17 percent said they feel unsafe, and 15 percent cited the lack of connections.
"Those are things we're working to address," Wadle said.