May has been proclaimed Bicycle Month. The city of Wichita is celebrating by highlighting recent bike path improvements and by looking forward to what's next. There are also many bicycle-related events planned throughout the city.
May 17 is Bike to Work Day, which will include breakfast stations around Wichita from 7:00 to 9:00 and free lunch at Old Town Square from 11:30 to 1:30.
Breakfast station locations:
- Douglas and Patti
- Fountain and 2nd Street
- Riverside Path, near the Keeper of the Plains bridge
- Riverside Path, where 21st Street crosses the Arkansas River
- Bicycle X-Change in the Delano District
O.J. Watson Park will host an "Oz"some Bicycle Festival on Saturday, May 18 with several activities including bicycle vendors, safety education, bike polo and a family bike ride at 3:00 p.m.
The Wichita SHIFT to Bikes Corporate Challenge and the National Bike Challenge provide opportunities for cyclists to challenge themselves and their co-workers to get out and enjoy bike month.
A new bicycle map produced by the Wichita Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (WAMPO) shows the location of bicycle paths, lanes and bike friendly streets throughout the Wichita area. The maps are available at bike shops throughout the city, plus city halls, libraries.
Scott Wadle, senior planner with the Wichita-Sedgwick County Metropolitan Planning Department, says there’s been quite a bit of activity since the Wichita City Council endorsed the Wichita Bicycle Master Plan in February. He says improvements help make bicycling safer and easier.
One example is at the intersection of 21st Street and 135th Street West in Wichita. The city recently installed buffered bike lanes as well as shared lane markings to get bicyclists safely through the intersection. Later this summer, the city is expected to move forward with design work for nine new bicycle facilities.
“And when I say facilities, I mean bike lanes, paths, shared lane markings, bicycle boulevards, all of those things," says Wadle. "They include First and Second street bike lanes, Market and Topeka bike lanes, a couple of bicycle boulevards and some shared lane markings as well.”
Wadle says the bicycle master plan does a great job of providing a guide for what to implement in the next 10 years and beyond, including opportunities for diverse populations.
“Not only in race and ethnicity but also in terms of income and geography," says Wadle. "And so when the steering committee was putting together the plan, they were consciously looking at where are bicycle facilities going and how can they help people from all over the city get to other destinations in the city."
Even if you haven’t ridden a bike in a while, Wadle says May is a great time to get out and try riding a bike.
“If you’re not sure about it, if you’re kind of on the fence, one thing that I would encourage you to do is to try riding your commute route on the weekend before the 17th. You can test your route and see if it works well. Just have fun with it,” he says.