During the summer, Matt Stratemeier weaves his bike through Lawrence on bike lanes and city streets to reach the scenic countryside. His 30-mile, one-hour rides give him an appreciation he cannot receive from riding in a car.
“Really, it’s just about freedom,” said Stratemeier, 34, Lawrence, who is secretary of the Lawrence Bicycle Club. “When you’re on a bike, you don’t have that same kind of hurry-up-and-get-somewhere perspective. It’s a lot nicer to just get away from the city.”
However, Stratemeier’s bike rides are not without peril. He said there are not enough bike lanes in Lawrence, and the few lanes that are in place are not well-maintained.
“Sometimes you’ll see the bike lane littered with gravel or debris, and no one wants to ride in that,” he said. “So you end up riding in the street, and that is dangerous because you have to keep up with the flow of traffic, and if you can’t, it makes you a hazard.”
The Kansas Department of Transportation wants to hear from Stratemeier and others like him. In an effort to update the Kansas Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation Plan, KDOT is conducting an online survey about bicycling and walking facilities and policies in the state. The goal is to improve safety, public health, recreation, tourism and community development.
The plan originated in 1995 with the beginning of the bicycle and pedestrian program in Kansas. It includes no public input and has not been revised since.
The Transportation Research Institute at Kansas University developed the online survey, and is working with an advisory committee to lead the update. Jessica Mortinger, transportation planner for the city of Lawrence and member of the advisory committee, said the survey is necessary to gauge true public opinion.
“We really want a direction and a vision from people before they move forward, because people are saying, ‘No, everything is good,’ when it may not be,” Mortinger said. “It will be interesting to see what the results are from the people who participate in the survey, and how that frames the discussion of the state.”
Pat Weaver, associate director of outreach and technology transfer with the Transportation Research Institute and principal investigator on this project, said that once the survey results are in, the data will be synthesized and follow-up interviews will begin.
The development of the plan is expected to start this summer, with a final update to be completed in July.
The survey, which is the first step in the process, will be online through the end of February, and can be found at ksdot.org.