The people and agencies who let it all happen for far too long are:
— The Public Works Department
— Mayor Sly James and the City Council
— City Manager Troy Schulte
— The Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee
— Pro-bicycling organizations in Kansas City
City Hall employees were the main impediment to getting a good bike plan in place and then improving it. Feuding among agencies took place. Employees couldn’t ever figure out what should be in a responsible bike plan and develop one that could change with the times.
That’s embarrassing. Other cities have sensible plans — including nearby Overland Park, which approved its own biking proposal the last few years.
In addition, the politicians never cared enough to make sure adequate progress was being made toward making Kansas City reach its bike-friendly goals. Neither did Schulte.
Years passed, recommendations were made (and ignored or put off) and the result in 2016 is a city that’s close to starting over on a key transit priority.
Along the way the citizens advisory group didn’t have success in getting its recommendations for a better plan put in place, and couldn’t raise enough of a stink with the City Council or others at City Hall to make the improvements.
Meanwhile, pro-biking groups such as BikeWalkKC also complained but didn’t have the political muscle to get major changes made. These supporters essentially tolerated the incompetence at City Hall while being grateful when upgrades were finished. They included new bike lanes on Gregory Boulevard and on the new Grand Boulevard bridge.
In his response to the audit, Schulte said his office would take over from Public Works the job of providing assistance to the citizens advisory committee. The city’s Planning and Development Department will rewrite the bike plan. Those are steps in the right direction.
However, a one-year timeline for creating the new proposal sounds absurdly long given all the audit’s solid recommendations and the fact that Kansas City isn’t inventing the wheel here.
City Auditor Douglas Jones and his office provided a needed push toward positive change for bicyclists in the city.
But don’t let others in City Hall fail the citizens again.