Midtown cyclists push for protected bike lanes

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- There's a squabble over space in the making.

Bicycle enthusiasts from the metro are asking city leaders for more protected bike lanes, keeping riders safe from traffic. Public officials say it isn't that simple.

How much space is enough? Bicyclists living in the Old Hyde Park neighborhood say they're pleased that city leaders have heard their plea for enhanced bikeways along a stretch of Armour Boulevard.

Residents in three Midtown neighborhoods are asking city planners to use protective barriers to separate their bikeways from traffic, which is plentiful, especially in the areas close to Broadway and Main Street along Armour Blvd.

“It's a really good move,” Shanna Keller, Old Hyde Park resident, told FOX 4 News.

Keller and her husband ride their bikes around Midtown for work and play. They're also in favor of a protected stretch, that could cover three road miles in this neighborhood.

“We have accidents all the time that aren't caused by people who live in the neighborhood, but by people cutting through our neighborhood,” Keller said.

Keller says protected bikeways would provide a safer ride, unlike the shared lanes on Southwest Boulevard, where arrows painted on the pavement allow cars and bikes to ride together.

“It's more obvious to motorists,” Keller said. “A cyclist feels more protected versus when it's an arrow on the road that kind of denotes that people cycle here. Cars don't pay attention to that.”

Deb Ridgway, Kansas City, Mo.'s bicycle pedestrian coordinator, says the city is searching for a way to accommodate the request. The money exists thanks to a federal grant, but what to do with parked cars? She points out residents living on Armour need the spaces along the street.

Eric Bunch works with Bike Walk KC, and serves as an advocate for bicycle safety in the metro. He says the protected lanes will encourage more people to ride.

“We can make it more comfortable using these types of structures,” Bunch said. “What happens is, as you make it more comfortable, more people will get out and do it.”

Ridgway also tells FOX 4 News she hopes to meet with bicycle advocates in the city very soon. If an approved design comes efficiently, construction on new bikeways could begin as early as summer 2016.

City officials say they're also considering a bike path that would be the longest in the city. It would cover 19 road miles on The Paseo, and stretch from Independence Avenue to 85th Street