May is Bike Month around the United States, and here in Kansas City. BikeWalkKC works with the Mid-America Regional Council and many other community partners to produce a wide range of events showcasing Kansas City’s diverse and growing bike communities.
This year Bike Month includes events like a Bike-In Movie, Women’s Bike Summit, trail building, gay and lesbian cycling outreach, Bike to School Day, Bike to Work Day, and many more. Visit www.kcbikemonth.com for more information on all events happening in May.
Much of the work that BikeWalkKC does in Bike Month and year-round is based on the Five Es model used by bike/ped professionals across the US.
Educational programs give individuals the skills and knowledge to bike safely and confidently. BikeWalkKC uses a comprehensive approach to get more kids walking and biking to school that was perfected in an Health Forward-funded project at James Elementary in the KC Publics Schools and is now rolling out to schools across the metro area.
A big component is BLAST (Bicycle Lesson And Safety Training), which gets fourth-sixth graders on bikes for a multi-day safety and skills course. Over 3,000 kids in the KCPS, KCK, North Kansas City, Raytown and Hickman Mills school districts have benefited from BLAST’s safety training and confidence building.
Events and activities like Bike Month help to build a movement of culture change that promotes bicycling as a fun, accessible, and practical way to get around the city for transportation, recreation, and fitness. The Car Free Challenge is a friendly competition to see how many car trips Kansas Citians can switch to biking, walking, or transit.
New this year is the Midwest’s first-ever Women’s Bike Summit on May 10th. This day-long program of discussion, presentations, and hands-on clinics will empower women to get on bicycles and participate in their communities as riders and leaders, and bring the nationwide momentum of more women on bikes to Kansas City.
Enforcing traffic laws so that everyone on the road stays safe is very important to encouraging biking. Safety problems, or perceived safety problems, are big barriers for people who are interested in bicycling. The City of Leawood is a great example of a local police department that prioritizes enforcing traffic laws for all modes of travel. Thanks to the support of the Destination Safe program at MARC, BikeWalkKC is currently developing a new mobile app for people to find places to bike and walk, report problems like potholes or aggressive drivers, and track data over time.
Physical infrastructure like bike lanes and trails are critical public investments needed to ensure that the built environment promotes bicycling and safety. BikeWalkKC works with local cities to create and update bike master plans in places like KCMO, Leawood, and Overland Park. Thanks to significant advocacy in recent years, KCMO is due to install 12 miles of bike lanes in the Greater Downtown area this year.
One of the most transformational developments in recent years was the 2012 launch of Kansas City B-cycle Powered by Blue KC, BikeWalkKC’s public bike sharing system. Bike share not only gives people new access to bikes, it is a highly visible improvement that has quickly become a catalyst for other improvements that benefit anyone who bikes in Kansas City.
Data about who, when, and where people are biking is long been a challenge, but recent progress is beginning paint a better picture for planners and decision makers. This month the KCATA counts usage of bike racks on buses. Many cities and counties conduct trail counts, and Kansas City B-cycle collects a wealth of GPS data about bike share usage.
BikeWalkKC has partnered with Kansas City Public Schools, KCMO Health Department, the Unified Government, and KCK’s USD 500 to evaluate local elementary schools to find barriers and solutions to get more kids walking and biking to school.
The bonus “E” is equity – ensuring that all of the above are conducted and implemented across geographic, cultural, and socioeconomic lines. BikeWalkKC is currently implementing an Health Forward planning grant to ensure that the B-cycle bike share system provides equitable access. We are also proud to support grassroots efforts like STARS (Sisters That Are Riding Strong), a weekly group ride that encourages women of color to get on their bikes for fitness and fun.
BikeWalkKC, member-supported 501(c)(3) nonprofit, is the unified voice for active living, promoting a healthy, safe & accessible outdoor experience for all in a vibrant, engaged community. They work to improve bicycling and walking through education, advocacy, events, and policy.