I enjoyed reading the LTE in the November 16 edition of the Northeast News regarding bike lanes on Truman Road. I don’t blame business owners for reacting to a change on the street outside their stores, and I understand concerns about parking. However, I think bike lanes on Truman Road, and many roads in Kansas City, are beneficial for everyone, including business owners.
Bike lanes are being installed all over the country and all over the world. And almost everywhere a bike lane is being installed, you will find business owners complaining about the change. Again, I’m not blaming them. But the good news is, if other cities can serve as any indication, five years from now nobody will be complaining.
And there’s good reason for this. According to a study in Toronto, after installation of bike lanes along a major road, there was no significant drop in the numbers of merchants arriving by car. And overall visitor frequency actually rose following the installation. This makes sense, because there existed more opportunities for people to arrive by other modes than just by vehicle.
A more comprehensive (but more dated) study by CityLab studied the impact of bike lanes from New York to LA to Dublin. Overall, the study concluded that bike lanes do not have a negative impact on economic viability for businesses. And I think the economic impacts of bike lanes can be positive, and reach far beyond individual businesses. Bike lanes allow people to travel safely and affordably. They also lower maintenance costs for the city, since bikes cause less wear and tear on a street than vehicles do.
With Truman Road specifically, I don’t see any reason why bike lanes aren’t a win for everyone. First of all, there will still be street parking.
Additionally, Truman Road is one of the most dangerous roads in the city and has among the most traffic deaths. There are too many lanes and not enough traffic, which is a recipe for disaster. By taking away a lane of traffic and adding a bicycle lane in each direction, we will see not only calmer traffic but a major east-west bicycle lane corridor which has been severely lacking in the city.
As someone who likes to get around by bike (when it’s warm enough!), I’m incredibly thankful to call Kansas City home, and I can’t be more excited about our city’s future. I commend city staff for their work making KC a more pedestrian-friendly, bicycle-friendly, and most importantly, safer city for everyone.