New lane markings arrive to assist Wichita’s bicyclists

04/28/2013 7:21 AM

04/28/2013 7:21 AM

Sharrows have arrived in Wichita, the latest upgrade for riders from the city’s bicycle master plan.

Sharrows — shared lane markings, or the symbol of a bicycle on the street to tell Wichita-area drivers that bicycles use the same lane — have been painted at the intersection of 21st Street and 135th Street West.

Scott Wadle, a city planner and director of the city’s biking effort, said the street markings — common in other U.S. communities with heavy bicycling interest — were installed to meet an immediate safety need.

“We’ve heard from residents that 21st Street is a popular corridor for riding,” he said. “These should help ensure that cyclists can safely travel through the intersection.”

There will likely be more of the shared lane markings around town, Wadle said. The city’s biking master plan recommends them in several other areas.

Sharrows were developed to alert drivers to the possible presence of riders, and to show riders the best places to ride, according to the city’s biking website.

The lane markings aren’t the only biking-related developments in Wichita: City officials continue their study of possible federal funding to grow the city’s bike path network. City Council members Lavonta Williams, Janet Miller and Pete Meitzner joined Sedgwick County Commissioner Tim Norton at the Navigating MAP-21 Workshop on April 4 in Wichita.

The workshop focused on using federal funding to help build bicycling and pedestrian pathways.

“The thing I got out of that meeting is that there are untapped federal funds for which bike projects are eligible,” Wadle said. “Some money that isn’t widely known is available.”

The city’s bicycling master plan, approved in February, includes a 10-year, $12.5 million program to improve bike paths. Most of that is federal funding — $10 million in available grants — plus $500,000 every other year already earmarked in the city’s capital improvements plan..

Planned improvements include:

• Extending the First and Second Street bike lanes from I-135 to the Arkansas River
• Installing bike lanes on Second Street from the Arkansas River to Hoover
• Installing a bicycle boulevard, a low-speed automobile street targeted for biking, from Douglas to K-96 on Armour
• Installing bike lane markings on Douglas from St. Paul to Edgemoor
• Pending more study, installing a side path connection under I-235 and across the Big Ditch for an interstate crossing at Central or Maple
• Installing bike lanes from 21st to Mount Vernon on Market and Topeka
• Installing bike lanes from Broadway to Woodlawn on Mount Vernon
• Installing a signal to cross Ridge Road and Westport to reach Sedgwick County Park, and adding a bicycle boulevard starting at Ridge running west to Glenhurst, then south along Holland Lane, Country Acres and Woodchuck to University
• Installing a bicycle boulevard starting at 13th and Perry, running north to 21st Street, and installing shared lane markings on 17th and then 19th from I-135 to Perry
• Installing a bicycle boulevard at Douglas and Sycamore, running south and west to Glenn
• Constructing a path on former railroad right-of-way between Koch Industries and Bradley Fair from Oliver across Rock Road to K-96.

And finally, city engineers have closed Canal Route bridges at 10th and 15th streets for the next three weeks, Wadle said. Engineers will evaluate whether the bridges can be converted to pedestrian and bicycle bridges, and the effect such a change would have on traffic.

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