Monday, October 27, 2008

A new bike path! But . . .

In the news this morning:
Bicycle riders will soon have a new path to navigate through downtown Wichita.


The bike path will run from Central and Wichita streets, north to 9th street, then northeast in the former Union Pacific Railroad Corridor to 15th and Broadway.

The $1.35 million project will feature 10-foot-wide bicycle path with entrance arches at both 8th and 15th streets, plus a plaza with a clock tower and drinking fountain in Otis Park at 13th and Market.
The plan will be presented officially today at 5:30 pm at the Midtown Resource Center at 10th and Broadway; construction begins on Thursday and is expected to be completed by April.

Wichita needs bike-paths, no question, especially one that runs through the core of the city as this one does; and I'm pleased to see that this one will make use of part of an abandoned railroad right-of-way. So, why am I (still) a bit underwhelmed?

Here's the route, and (in case anyone needs a reminder) here is a map of currently-existing and proposed routes. As you can see, Wichita is pretty much set with north-south routes on both sides of the core--and, again, it's indeed good that this new one will actually go into that core--but this still does not provide what, in my view, the bike-path/lane network here most lacks in order to become more useful as an alternate commuter/transportation network and not primarily a recreational function: an east-west route that passes more or less through the city's middle. The proposed multi-use conversion of the abandoned railroad right-of-way that parallels 17th Street and then turns southeast to head toward downtown would be an ideal instance of what I mean here; some corresponding route west of downtown would balance that.

In the case of the eastside route, I know there is (or was, in the past) resistance (and, apparently, some legal obstacles as well) to that project. In the post I just linked to, Ms. Fearey also acknowledges that bike-path projects currently in the works assume cycling to be primarily recreation. Clearly, those impediments need to change and perhaps are in the process of changing; they could use nudges of various sorts, though.

So: two cheers for the new path. Here's hoping that sooner rather than later we'll have an announcement of an east-west path or two that will link the east and west sides of the city to its center.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Also the annual Hallowheelie at the Thursday Night Pub Pedal Thursday the 30th.