The Kansas Department of Transportation wants your opinions as it and a team of consultants develop a Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan for the Kansas Byways System. They are seeking ways to make each of the state’s 11 scenic and historic byways more friendly to people experiencing them on foot and by bicycle.
It’s about time.
They are asking anyone and everyone to go online to take a survey (surveymonkey.com/s/KansasByways) and offer their input on the impact of active transportation on these routes. It takes just a few minutes, but the ramifications have the potential to be far-reaching ones.
The two Kansas national byways, which includes our Wetlands and Wildlife National Scenic Byway, would be part of the initial development and implementation of this plan. The other is the Flint Hills National Scenic Byway.
There are nine other scenic byways in Kansas scattered from east to west, and north to south. Although they have not earned national status, they provide wonderful glimpses into our state.
According to TravelKS.com, scenic roadways serve as natural, social, cultural and economic resources for the visitors to the state of Kansas, the people of Kansas and the local communities in which the roadways are located. The program is a cooperative effort among private citizens, local groups, local governments and state government agencies.
The Kansas Byways Program was formed to identify and designate scenic roadways for the enjoyment of the traveling public in Kansas. What better way to do this than at the slower pace afforded by a bicycle or a pair of hiking boots.
This program is related to the National Scenic Byways Program, a project of the 1991 Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA). The National Scenic Byways Program seeks to identify and designate national scenic byways to increase tourism and educate the traveling public about our nation’s environment, history and culture.
The 77-mile Wetlands byway includes the seven communities of Claflin, Ellinwood, Great Bend, Hoisington, Hudson, St. John and Stafford, along with Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area and Quiviria National Wildlife Refuge. The development of this trail has been a boon to the area, and further development would be a great asset to our region for residents and visitors alike.
So, any improvements would truly benefit the entire area – from tourism to economic development to encouraging exercise and healthier lifestyles.
This effort is being promoted by Barton County officials and the Great Bend Convention and Visitors’ Bureau, all of which understand the value in promoting biking and hiking.
Now, it is up to us. Many say they would like to see such opportunities, so this is the chance to make these feelings known.