Tuesday, July 22, 2008

WAMPO and wampum

My running into some below-ground utility work on Mt. Vernon just west of Broadway this morning reminded me that I wanted to draw your attention to the Wichita Area Metropolitan Planning Organization's (WAMPO) Regional Pathway System Plan, adopted last September. I hope you'll go and have a look at it. It provides considerable context to Sharon Fearey's remarks in her e-mail to me last week:
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.
The WAMPO document notes that the money isn't available to implement all its proposals--at this stage of things, it's more like a wish list. But what a wish list! With its prioritizing of increasing connectivity among already-existing bike-paths and identifying east-west and north-south street routes that can be made bike- and pedestrian-friendlier in various ways, along with developing new bike-paths along creeks in still undeveloped areas, it's a most-impressive document.

And some parts of it are indeed in motion: the utility work along Mt. Vernon, for example, is a prelude to its eventual conversion from what's basically, in its wider manifestations, a 4-lane undivided road into a two-lane road with a dedicated center left-turn lane and bike lanes on either side.

For some of these projects--such as the conversion of the 17th Street railroad into a path--property-owner considerations and concerns will cause delays; with the others, money will be what keeps them from being built right away. But in politics, squeaky wheels get the grease, and the WAMPO document makes the crucial point that none of this will happen if people--city councils and their constituents--don't take ownership of them. Speaking of which: if you care about any of this, you owe a debt of gratitude to the Oz Bicycle Club for participating in the production of this document. I'm looking forward to becoming their newest member: maybe I can make their squeak a little bit louder.


Anonymous said...

The owner of a local ad agency called Start-Thinking is working with WAMPO to develop an online, interactive bike route map. He could use your words of encouragement and support. Even better, call the fine folks at WAMPO and tell them you've heard about it and are excited to see that SOMEONE is making progress on making the Wichita area more bicycle friendly.

WAMPO says they are having trouble getting funding to implement their plan due to "lack of public support." So maybe you want to shoot a quick e-mail to your City Council member and/or County Commissioner.

John B. said...

Thanks for coming by and for this information. I'll be sure to drop these folks various lines.