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Thursday, April 11, 2013

Five die-hard cyclists: Why they ride [InkKC]


Kaitlyn & Eric Bunch both use their bicycles to commute to their jobs in opposite directions from their midtown home.
They’re everywhere: riding to work, school, dinner, the grocery store and the dentist’s office.
In other words, they’re doing just what Kansas Citians in cars are: getting where they need to go.
While sharing the road is the law, it’s not always easy to do. Kansas City is large and spread out, bike lanes are nearly nonexistent and drivers and cyclists are undereducated about how to safely get through the morning commute.
Suzanne Hogan, a founding member of the 816 Bike Collective, struggles with these issues every day: “It’s a frustrating town to be a cyclist in,” she says. “If you think about routes to Kansas City, Kansas, or North Kansas City, there’s not a lot of options.”
Kansas City was ranked 41st of the 51 most-populated cities in biking and walking levels, according to a 2012 study released by Alliance for Biking & Walking. Organizations such as BikeWalkKC, the 816 Bike Collective and RevolveKC work to change the infrastructure problems and educate cyclists and drivers.
The city is working to remedy the frustration, too. A project was recently initiated to label, through painted pavement and signage, more than 600 miles of bike lanes, both designated and shared-use. More than 200 miles of shared-use trails will also be marked throughout the city.
But all of those issues won’t be resolved any time soon.
Regardless, Hogan thinks biking is a possibility for every Kansas Citian. “You can come up with hours and hours of excuses why you can’t ride your bike, but when you just start doing it all the time … you find it’s not that hard.”
Meet a few of these dedicated cyclists, covering 5 to 30 miles each week on their bikes: Hogan, Eric and Kaitlyn Bunch, Matthew Long-Middleton and Tara Tonsor. They explain why overcoming obstacles to bike in KC is well worth the effort and encourage everyone to give biking a shot.

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