Armour Boulevard in midtown Kansas City went from four lanes to two lanes Friday as the city opened its first parking-protected bike lane from Broadway Boulevard to The Paseo.
City officials said they hope the $700,000 project will result in safer roads for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists by slowing traffic.
“It’s certainly a much safer and easier way of getting around,” Kansas City Councilman Dan Fowler said. “And it’s a signal to the world that Kansas City is a multimodal transportation city.”
Only .4 percent of commuters in Kansas City ride bikes to work, according to a 2016 report by the League of American Bicyclists. One of those is Andrew Johnson, whose route to work includes Armour Boulevard and who advocated for the new bikes lanes.
“I personally was hit by a car on my bike just one block up about a year ago,” Johnson said. “I know first- hand that streets that don’t have bikes and pedestrians in mind can quickly become fast-moving, dangerous spaces.”
Eric Bunch, the policy coordinator for bike and pedestrian advocacy group BikeWalkKC, said community advocates helped push for the bike lane. Bunch also chairs the city’s bicycle pedestrian advisory committee.
In December, the City Council passed a Complete Streets Ordinance, with guidelines for including bike lanes and sidewalks in road projects.
“This particular complete street project is really a story about how a community really believed that our streets are valuable public spaces and that they should be designed in a way that makes them accessible for everyone,” Bunch said.
Even with the new bike lane, Zach Collins and his three-year-old daughter won’t be biking around their neighborhood any time soon. Collins said his daughter is scared of riding a bike so close to parked cars and he’s nervous about the speed of cars.
Johnson acknowledged that some of his neighbors are still getting used to the new design.
“Some people are feeling a little inconvenienced by the bike lanes in that we lost one lane,” Johnson said. “But I think in the long run, especially as we roll more complete streets out across the city, I think it really will change how neighbors get to interact with their streets.”
Aviva Okeson-Haberman is a KCUR news intern. Follow her on Twitter @avivaokeson.