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Ordinance seeks control of bike lanes in KCMO's 3rd District

Posted at 6:07 PM, Oct 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-28 19:27:42-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — New legislation in the Kansas City, Missouri, City Council aims to control where and when bicycle lanes are installed within the 3rd District.

Councilmember Melissa Robinson is a sponsor of the ordinance which could remove current bike lanes and prevent the installation of future lanes in the 3rd District without approval from neighborhood residents.

"The City has installed bicycle lanes without the proper community engagement which creates additional distrust of city government," per the ordinance.

Robinson said the safety of her constituents is important as well as their ability to voice opinions on neighborhood infrastructure.

"There's a lot of activity right now in which bike lanes are just going up everywhere, no conversation," Robinson said. "And so this puts a real clear marker in the sand, please do not go out and start striping lanes without having those critical conversations."

The bike lanes are part of a larger approach to improving safety on Kansas City streets through the "Complete Streets" policy passed in 2017.

"We agree with her concerns that community engagement is lacking kind of across the board at City Hall," said Michael Kelley with BikeWalk KC.

Despite his shared concern with Robinson, Kelley said he disagrees with the ordinance.

"It poses a risk to funding for several improvements that Robinson wants to see, specifically with Safe Streets and Vision Zero," Kelley said. "And the other big concern is that would take the voice from many of the stakeholders in her community who need to be involved in that community engagement."

A city spokesperson said no new "bicycle facilities" were installed in the 3rd District in the last 12 months. However, Public Works performed work on an existing bike lane in late summer 2021.

That spokesperson added community engagement on neighborhood projects is happening, including a public meeting for a Complete Streets project on Avenida Cesar Chavez in June. Other outreach efforts for the Gillham Road Complete Streets project took place over the last year, according to the spokesperson.

Talk of safer streets is important for Lorrie Brown. Her son Anthony Saluto was struck and killed by a car while riding his bike on Independence Avenue and Lydia Avenue in April 2016.

"If this situation had happened to them, how would they feel?" said Brown, who opposes the ordinance. "If it's in a neighborhood, there's going to be a lot of people riding their bikes. If it's in a business area, there are a lot of people — my son included, who rode his bike to work every day."

The ordinance is being held until Dec. 1.