Roeland Park committee suggests lengthy list of initiatives that could make city more bike and walk friendly

Bike route signage in Prairie Village.
Bike route signage in Prairie Village.

A group tasked with identifying ways to improve biking and walking access in Roeland Park presented a laundry list of ideas to the city council Monday, a set of suggestions that the city will now turn its attention to prioritizing and finding sources to fund.

The Bicycle Safety Ad Hoc committee was created in July 2015 and tasked with evaluating the city’s transportation as it relates to pedestrians, bicyclists, transit accessibility and ADA accessibility.

Monday’s presentation included close to 50 initiatives for the city council to consider. The report did not include cost estimates.

Major recommendations include utilizing strategic design guidelines on streets and sidewalks for greater usability, working with area schools to encourage safe walking and biking routes, highlighting Roeland Park amenities with wayfinding maps and signs, and reviewing zoning codes to encourage sustainable development. The committee also recommended submitting an application to the Walk Friendly Communities Program. Currently there are no cities in Kansas with this designation.

“Walkability is an economic generating tool that Roeland Park should utilize to help build the city’s tax base and create development patterns that are desirable to potential new citizens of the City,” the committee report noted.

Creating bike share programs, integrating art into street crossings and intersections and correcting sidewalks that are not currently ADA compliant were also discussed.

Committee chair Kyle Rogler said the report should be viewed as a guide to various tools the city could use.

“It’s up to the council, the city and other administrations…to figure out how we want to use those tools,” he said.

Councilmember Becky Fast questioned whether Roeland Park would need to consider using easement on property to create more walkable lanes. Fast noted Prairie Village had taken that measure on a section of Mission Road.

Councilmember Michael Rhoades asked how much of the proposal could be carried out given the current layout of Roeland Park.

Rogler acknowledged that promoting walkability would be difficult in certain areas and suggested the city focus resources on making areas with residential or business concentration as pedestrian friendly as possible.

Mayor Joel Marquardt said he looked forward to trying to implement parts of the report.