Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Sharon Fearey responds

Some of you may remember this post, in which I posted some excerpts from an e-mail I sent to Sharon Fearey, the District 6 representative on the Wichita City Council. This afternoon, she e-mailed me a response. It appears below, in its entirety:
John,
First, let me congratulate you on becoming a bike-commuter. That is exciting. I agree that things in Wichita aren’t as bike friendly as they can and should be, but there are some things in the works that I hope will make it better. One of the big things we are doing in through our Park, Recreation and Open Space master planning project. Although this focuses on biking as recreation in a lot of ways, some of the suggested outcomes would work for commuting, too. The city is working toward connecting a lot of the bike paths we have so that they can be used to navigate through many parts of the city. We are also starting to focus much more on what we need to do to become a more pedestrian and bike friendly community through things like complete streets that are designed for all types of transportation. Although many of these things will still take years to implement, we are much further along in our discussions than we were when I first got elected to City Council in 2001. Finally, there is a plan to turn the abandoned rail corridor that runs along 17th Street into a bike path. Unfortunately, this plan does not have the backing of one of the Council Members, Vice Mayor Schlapp, who represent the area. The corridor also has a lot of utilities in it so a light rail system would be difficult in that location. I hope I have helped address your questions and concerns. Please let me know any time you need additional information.

Thank you,

Sharon
My initial response is it sounds as though some good things are in store for cyclists and pedestrians on down the road. As time permits, I'll do some poking around to see if I can find more specific information on the proposals she mentions. Time to get some education.

Also, I'll be interested in learning the nature of Ms. Schlapp's opposition to converting the 17th Street corridor into a bikepath. It goes without saying that if anyone reading this lives in Wichita's District 2 and has an interest in this subject, she'd be more likely to listen to a constituent than to some pedal-pushing blogger from near-downtown.

More to come on all this.

2 comments:

Pete P. said...

What I'd like to see on the roads, which can be immediately implemented, are just more "Share the Road" signs. I've seen two since I've been here, and they're both in the same spot (on Webb, just south of the K-96 overpass). Maybe there are more, but I certainly haven't noticed them. I think if there were just a little more signage, it'd at least inform motorists that there are going to be cyclists on the road, and they do in fact belong there. I'm used to seeing them on every road, in almost regular intervals, so it was a shock when I didn't see any and heard some unfounded anti-bike sentiment from a pickup truck driver when I first moved here.

John B. said...

Pete P.,
Count this as a response to your comment on the earlier post as well.

Welcome to town, and I'm glad you're glad you found your way here. I too heard some unpleasant anecdotes from long-time residents when I would tell people I was going to bike-commute, but so far I've just not experienced even impatience with me, and I'm out there in left-turn lanes and everything. As I've said elsewhere here, I think gas prices have everyone thinking about their own transportation, which means looking around at what other people are driving--or riding, as the case may be.

As to the signage suggestion, that would be a fine and, relatively speaking, inexpensive thing to do. The ones you've seen up by Webb and K-96 are there because, as you probably know by now, there's a long bike-path up there that roughly parallels K-96 from Central almost to I-135. (If you haven't found it already, be sure to look for the link to the map of Wichita bike paths over in the right gutter immediately below the cycling widget.)

I'm planning on meeting Ms. Fearey at the next monthly coffee she holds with constituents; I'll pass along your suggestion about the signage. And maybe you could drop Ms. Schlapp a line about converting that railroad right-of-way?

Thanks again for the kind words. You're just the sort of reader I'm hoping will find this place; I'll do my best to make it worth your while to keep visiting.