Saturday, April 18, 2009

Saturday Readers' Ride: Some good news

Route: Map My Ride. I wasn't able to save my route on Veloroutes, alas. Weather: cool-ish, but the rain held off.

First of all: There's some storm sewer construction that is entirely blocking the Gypsum Creek path on the south side of Pawnee; thus, our ride on Sunday will be shorter than I'd anticipated. But this isn't the good news.

This morning, no one met me at Linwood Park, so I set out on my own. It was a good ride, though my tiredness at the end was a reminder of just how long it'd been since I last rode for any real distance. But this isn't the good news, either.

It is this: Mt. Vernon from Greenway almost to Broadway now has brand-new dedicated bike lanes on the street. As in, solid lines on the pavement on both sides of the street, bike logos in the lanes, No Parking signs, and even signs telling bikers to ride with the flow of the traffic. They are spiffy, let me tell you, as are the new sidewalks (the old ones had been difficult in places even to walk on). Also, there are some marked bike lanes just north of Pawnee on Minneapolis and Swan, intended to help ease passage from the Canal path over to the new sidewalk crossing at Pawnee and Minneapolis. These are only on one side, though, and this morning they were filled with standing water from last night's rain, so they didn't elicit quite the same glee from me as I passed that way. Ah, well.

As I've mentioned before, Mt. Vernon is in the process of having storm sewers installed; the stretch with the bike lanes is the completed part of that work, and the preliminary re-paving of the two blocks or so up to Broadway has been done. The sidewalks still have yet to be done. Meanwhile, on the east side of Broadway the construction in the street has begun. So, it indeed appears that the work there is following the recommendation listed in WAMPO's Priority Missing Links list (see #13).

Anyway. A sincere thank-you to the City of Wichita for providing these lanes. I'm very much looking forward to seeing more of them.

I left a little early this morning to get a look at the new Midtown Bike Path, which as you know was just opened. It's very very nice, though it makes some odd hooks here and there as it approaches some streets. But on the whole it is very functional. And, it's already been put to some pretty intense use: one straightaway has numerous very long skid marks from bike tires.

Then it was off to Linwood Park, where I waited for others to arrive; I finally left around 9:20. The ride down to Pawnee and then through the quiet neighborhood to the pedestrian bridge that crosses I-135 at Wassall was very pleasant. It's a minor complaint to note that the bridge is the weak link in the connections between the Gypsum Creek's western terminus and the Canal path's southern one--crossing over by walking the bike just took a couple of minutes. Since I last rode the new stretch, the city has seeded and covered the dirt along the the path. I met no other riders and, strangely, I didn't see any dogs out; but I did meet something I hadn't counted on: small swarms of insects flying just about head-high. A couple flew into my eye at different times, making steering a bit tricky. A pair of goggles might not be a bad idea to wear along that way.

After riding to George Washington, down to Oliver, then along the turnpike up to the construction at Pawnee, I turned back and, when I reached the Geo. Washington-Oliver intersection, I noted the time: I was curious to see how long it would take to get from, more or less, McConnell to my place. The short answer: about an hour--about the same time it takes to go the way I had been going. Following the paths adds about a mile to the trip--from 10 to 11 miles--but that's more than compensated for by being a safer route that cuts out a net four traffic lights and the hard-for-me climb of the overpass over I-135. Bike-to-Work Week should be a good time to try it out under actual commute conditions.

I'm looking forward to meeting some of you tomorrow afternoon at 2:00 on the south side of Kellogg at Armour.


rebmoti said...

Are you still planning on this? The weather is a little unattractive, but I'll meet you there if you're still going.

John B. said...

I hear you about the weather, but I'll be there. It'll be a pleasure to meet you in person.

Anonymous said...

You might want to put something about the bike lanes into an editorial for the Eagle.