What is the route?
It includes 19th Street from Main Street to McKinley Street and on McKinley Street from 19th Street to the Great Bend Sports Complex. The route consists of roughly 32 blocks, or 2.7 miles.
What is a sharrow?
Common in other cities, sharrows will be new to Great Bend. Basically, they are markings stenciled on the street in white paint reminding drivers that bicyclists may be sharing that lane.
They consist of a icon of a bicycle and sometimes arrows pointing in the direction of the bike traffic, which is the same as that of motor vehicles.
The symbols will be located where motorists will drive over them, and that is OK. They do not denote a bike-only lane, just that bikes might also be using the street.
Great Bend motorists and bicycle enthusiasts will begin to notice some new traffic signs and markings around Great Bend. The installation of bicycle awareness signs started Friday afternoon and the painting of sharrows started Tuesday, all of which should be done by today.
The project includes 19th Street from Main Street to McKinley Street and on McKinley Street from 19th Street to the Great Bend Sports Complex.
The route consists of roughly 32 blocks, or 2.7 miles, and calls for the signs, including one sign for each traffic direction at seven locations, and eight “sharrows” to be stenciled in white on the street, which includes one for each traffic direction at four locations.
Street Department crews began painting the sharrows this week after all the signs were in place.
The project is a partnership between the Be Well Barton County leadership team and the city. The new signage will raise awareness that bicyclists share the road with motorized vehicles.
“It is great that a partnership has been developed to bring awareness to the fact that our streets need to be shared by motorist and bicycle riders alike,” said Great Bend City Administrator Howard Partington. “We encourage both motorists and bicycle riders to be safe and observant as they share the streets.”
“Be Well Barton County is delighted to have the support of the City of Great Bend,” said Sue Cooper, Be Well member and program officer for the Golden Belt Community Foundation. “Bicycle and pedestrian safety is a challenge that requires both technical and adaptive work.”
The signage creates awareness and is also a traffic calming measure, which is especially paramount near schools and parks., Cooper said.
The Be Well team suggested the route for three reasons: It is a high-traffic area and would call a lot of attention to efforts to improve active transportation with visible street markings; it connects several major areas, including downtown shopping, Brit Spaugh Park, Park Elementary School, Great Bend High School, Great Bend Middle School, Veterans Memorial Park, shopping on 10th Street, medical services and the sports complex; and it cemented cooperation with the city.
The Great Bend City Council on Aug. 4 approved partnering with Be Well Barton County to install signage and sharrows .
“This project will make Great Bend, already a progressive and accessible city, even more progressive and accessible,” said team member Dale Hogg.
The total cost of the initiative is a shade over $2,000.
“This is a first step, but an important step, in making our already friendly and accessible city even friendlier and more accessible,” Hogg said. “Active transportation is key to safety, convenience and economic growth (through an improved quality of life). This is our chance to take the lead and set an example.”
The plan is flexible, adaptable and expandable.
The idea for this initiative came up as an introductory project between Be Well and the city, Hogg said.
Be Well Barton County is a leadership team under the Central Kansas Partnership and funded by a Kansas Health Foundation grant. It has been around for about three years with a goal promoting health lifestyles in all of Barton County.
It focuses on active transportation – the promotion of cycling and walking and the promotion of Complete Streets policies. This concept involves signs, sharrows, safe sidewalks, bike lanes and bike racks, and walking paths that make a community pedestrian friendly.