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A welcome step for bicyclists

By Walt Braun

In approving a proposal to reduce the speed limit on Moro Street from 30 to 20 miles per hour, the Manhattan City Commission has shown a welcome willingness to give “bike boulevards” a chance.

It’s refreshing that something — anything — is actually occurring that recognizes the utility and growing use of bicycles in a college community that has done little over the years to accommodate bike riders.

We hope the bike boulevard plan involving Moro Street works. We’d like to see Manhattan become more bicycle-friendly, and this could be an economical way to begin.

We suspect that a lot of residents who’d like to ride from point A to point B are reluctant to take to this city’s thoroughfares on bicycle. There isn’t much room for bicycles on busy streets, and we’d guess a lot of motorists would rather bicyclists found other places to ride. Bike lanes would be ideal, but those generally call for expensive street work or siphon space used by vehicular traffic; both are hard sells.

As Peter Clark, a civil engineer and the city’s liaison to the Bicycle Advisory Committee, pointed out, traffic on Moro Street already is light, which would bode well for bicycle riders. Lowering the speed limit would boost safety without inconveniencing motorists, who could easily find a more through street.

As a story in Sunday’s Mercury pointed out, Moro Street makes a good pilot project because it connects downtown with Aggieville and Kansas State University.

In addition to the lower speed limit, new signs will be posted on Moro Street to increase awareness of bicycle traffic and to encourage drivers to share the road. Directional signs that would include approximate riding time to destinations also could be useful.

Success with a bike boulevard on Moro Street could help overcome misgivings about expansion of the bicycle network in the next couple of years to areas beyond Aggieville such as Dickens Avenue and Hayes Drive.

Success also could create dilemmas for a community that’s been designed to accommodate cars and trucks but that would be wise to encourage transportation that’s as good for people and the environment as bicycling.

We’re confident that drawing from the experience gained from the Moro Street bike boulevard and the experiences of other communities, Manhattan’s leaders will find a way to accommodate both motor vehicles and bicycles.

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