People who walk or ride bicycles on the streets of Great Bend told a consultant Tuesday that the city’s streets and sidewalks can be a treacherous path to travel.
Martin A. Shukert was eager to listen to stories about the best and worst Barton County has to offer. Shukert, with RDG Planning & Design of Omaha, Neb., has been hired to draft a bicycle and pedestrian master plan for the county.
More community workshops are being held, starting tonight at Clara Barton Hospital’s Turnbull Safe Room in Hoisington. The meeting will run from 6-8 p.m., and people are welcome to drop in for 15 minutes or stay for the entire meeting.
There will also be meetings from 6-8 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 5, at the School-Community Library in Ellinwood, and Tuesday, Oct. 6, at the Central Plains High School Cafeteria in Claflin.
Nearly two dozen people attended Tuesday’s meeting in Great Bend. Most shared their insights and then stayed to look at maps. One idea Shukert suggested looking into was a trail along the right of way of the railroad tracks that cut across Great Bend. County Engineer Clark Rusco said it might be possible.
Shukert said that systems for biking and walking need to be planned, just as highway systems are planned.
“When sidewalk networks are left to property owners, they almost never happen,” he said. “A sidewalk system needs to be a community project.”
Paul Berscheidt and George Strobel applauded audible crosswalk signals such as the one at K-96 and Broadway Ave., but said some of the diagonal curb cuts at intersections are obstacles to people with visual impairments.
“There are several of us in town that walk a lot,” Berscheidt said.
“There isn’t a way to get across 10th Street for anyone who’s visually impaired,” Strobel added.
Shukert said there aren’t many good places for pedestrians to cross 10th St. even if they aren’t visually impaired.
Others added that Great Bend doesn’t have continuous sidewalks, and some of the sidewalks it does have are rough and uneven.
As for bicycles, the routes again need to go where the people want to travel. However, bikers often discover “bicycle freeways” – roads that parallel the ones with heavy traffic. That’s why cyclists may prefer 16th, Lakin or Forest to Broadway. The frequent bikers talked about where the smooth pavement is – and where they avoid.
Bicyclists are commuting to work or riding for exercise and recreation. Cyclists such as Sharon King said they’d like to see more designated lanes marked for bicycles, and more bike racks at businesses.
They’d like a bike trail from Great Bend to Barton Community College, and better access to Great Bend Regional Hospital and the Great Bend Sports Complex.