Kansas City is considering removing a bike lane on the side of Truman Road after weeks of opposition from a group of business owners on the crash-prone street.
The city began building bike lanes along Truman Road last fall, but put construction on hold last month after business owners expressed frustration with the project and what they said was a lack of involvement from city officials. People who own businesses along Truman Road have argued in previous public meetings that it has had a negative impact on their businesses.
Advocates for safer streets in Kansas City say bike lanes make dangerous roads safer for drivers and non-drivers alike by slowing traffic.
Last week, Third District Council members Melissa Robinson and Brandon Ellington proposed removing all bike lanes from Truman Road. Now, the city council is considering a compromise—removing only the bike lanes on the north side of Truman and adding other safety improvements, such as converting the remaining lanes on the south side to two-way.
The city can support pedestrian safety and small businesses, Robinson said, adding that the Third Ward cannot afford to lose businesses.
“We must make sure our roads are safer for everyone, pedestrians, cyclists and motorists,” she said. “I will never leave our side for small businesses, I will never leave our side for vulnerable road users. Together we can thrive.”
Bike lanes are here to reduce crashes
In 2018, our city studied How to make Truman Road — which city officials say is one of Kansas City’s deadliest streets for traffic accidents — safer.
When the city council passed its first-year bike implementation plan last year, it selected Truman Road and 12 other streets as protected bike facilities based on crash data. Construction on the disputed lane began in October.
There are now bike lanes on the south and north sides of Truman Drive, protected by tall white bollards. The bike lane reduces the once accident-prone six-lane road to four lanes for cars and a central turning lane.
Robinson told the committee meeting on Wednesday that the current implementation of the bike lane was unsafe because when drivers on Truman Road parked next to the bike lane, they were exposed to oncoming traffic when they dismounted.
The bike lane south of Truman could be turned into a two-way bike lane, similar to the one along Gilham Road, she said.
District 4 Councilman Eric Bunch said the proposed changes were a reasonable solution.
“A big reason we took this particular design and had a public conversation is that it’s a confusing and seemingly dangerous design,” he said. “I think we should expand that conversation to all streets.”
The City Council will consider and possibly vote on the proposed changes to Truman Drive later this month.
Most of those who testify publicly want to keep the lanes
More than 80 residents submitted public testimony against the ordinance, with a majority opposing the removal of Truman’s bike lane.
David Dye is a District 3 resident. He told the city council on Wednesday that the bike lane on Truman Road is an important part of the city’s plan to improve road safety for all.
“It needs to calm down somehow,” Day said of Truman Road. “The installed motorway appears to meet this need.”
Laela Zaidi, a member of the Kansas City chapter of the Sunrise Movement and a resident of Ward 3, said the six-lane road was not safe.
“As young people, we had no business. We were often seen as not contributing to the economy, yet we wanted to be permanent members of these communities for life,” she said. “Part of that is having bike lanes, we have a say in shaping the bike lanes and we have a say in how they are built permanently.”
But some Truman Road business owners remain opposed to the bike lane, saying it hurts their business.
John Mika owns the Venus Restoration Center, an auto repair shop in Truman. He said since the bike lanes were installed, it has been almost impossible for his customers to come in and return their bikes.
“A delivery guy who makes 10 to 15 deliveries a day has to park in a turning lane, cross a lane, roll a tire or carry a part,” he said. “Someone could get hurt in there. I mean, it’s very dangerous. There’s no loading zone now. They don’t have a place to park.”
Shawn Arcidino owns Atomic Collision, another auto shop on Truman Road, and has been one of the most vocal opponents of bike lanes. While publicly testifying before the city council, he read online comments directed at him and his business.
“I think the cyclist crowd is a hate group, sending hate at me,” he told the city council.
He said he does not support a compromise that removes one side of the bike lane and would like to see the bike lane removed from Truman Road entirely. He said he intends to move forward with a referendum to eliminate all bike lanes in Kansas City.
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