Kansas City is considering removing the bike lane on one side of Truman Road after weeks of opposition from a group of contractors on the heavy road.
The city began building the bike path along Truman Road last fall, but halted construction last month as developers expressed frustration with the project and what they say was a lack of commitment from city officials. People who own businesses along Truman Road have argued in previous public meetings that it negatively impacts their businesses.
Advocates for safer roads in Kansas City say the bike lane makes the dangerous road safer for drivers and non-drivers by slowing down traffic.
Last week, Third District council members Melissa Robinson and Brandon Ellington proposed removing all bike lanes from Truman Road. Now, the city is considering a compromise: Remove only the bike lane on Truman’s north side and add other safety improvements, such as making the remaining south side lane a two-way street.
Robinson said the city can support both pedestrian safety and small businesses, adding that the 3rd District cannot afford to lose business.
“We need to make sure our roads are safer for everyone, pedestrians, cyclists and motorists,” he said. “I will never leave the side of our small businesses and I will never leave the side of vulnerable road users. We can thrive together.”
Bike lanes were born out of an effort to reduce accidents
In 2018, the city investigated how to make Truman Road, which city officials say is one of the most dangerous streets in Kansas City when it comes to traffic accidents, safer.
When the city council approved its first-year bicycle implementation plan last year, it selected Truman Road and 12 other streets for protected bicycle facilities based on crash data. Construction on the disputed lanes began in October.
Right now, there are bike lanes on the south and north side of Truman Road that are protected from cars by tall white bollards. The bike lanes reduce what was once an accident-prone six-lane road to four lanes for cars and a center turn lane.
Robinson said during Wednesday’s committee meeting that the current bike lane implementation is unsafe, because when drivers on Truman Road park their car next to the bike lane, they are exposed to oncoming traffic when they exit their vehicle.
He said the bike lane on the south side of Truman could be turned into a two-way bike lane, similar to one that exists along Gilham Road.
4th District Councilman Eric Bunch said the proposed changes are a reasonable solution.
“A big reason we’ve gotten where we are with this particular design and the public dialogue is that it’s a confusing and seemingly dangerous design,” he said. “I think we should extend this conversation to all avenues.”
The city council will agree to — and possibly vote on — the proposed changes to Truman Lane later this month.
Most of those who have testified publicly want the wards to stay
More than 80 residents have filed public testimony in response to the ordinance, with a majority opposed to the removal of the bike lanes on Truman.
David Dye is a resident of the 3rd district. He told the city council on Wednesday that the bike path on Truman Road was an important part of the city’s plan to improve road safety for all.
“He had to be calmed down somehow,” said Dye of Truman Road. “Mobility lanes as installed appear to fill that need.”
Laela Zaidi, a member of the Kansas City chapter of the Sunrise Movement and a resident of the 3rd district, said the six-lane streets are unsafe.
“As young people, we have no businesses. We are often seen as people who don’t contribute to the economy, but want to become permanent members of these neighborhoods for life,” he said. “And part of that is having bike paths that we have a voice in shaping that we have a voice in making permanent”.
But some Truman Road business owners have remained opposed to the bike lane, saying it has hurt their businesses.
John Mika owns the Venus Restoration Center, a body shop on Truman. He said it has been nearly impossible for his customers to enter the store and leave their cars since the bike lane was installed.
“Delivery workers delivering 10 to 15 deliveries a day have to park in the turn lane, cross a lane of traffic, roll tires or carry parts,” he said. “Someone is going to get hurt out there. I mean, it’s very dangerous. Now there is no loading dock. They have nowhere 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. During her public testimony before the city council, she read online comments directed at him and his business.
“I see the cycling crowd as a hate group directing the hate at me,” he told the city council.
He said he does not support the compromise of removing one side of the bike path and wants the bike paths removed from Truman Road completely. He said he intends to go ahead with a referendum to remove all bike lanes from Kansas City.