City officials address concerns over new shared bike lanes

Local News

WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — In April, city officials finished a project that established shared bike lanes down Call Field Road and Midwestern Parkway.

Officials are now responding to some complaints that they have heard in the weeks since.

Slowed traffic is one of the main concerns that city officials have heard. But they say this effort to make the city more bike-friendly is going to take time for cyclists and motorists to get used to.

The Hotter’N Hell Hundred is one of the largest cycling events in the nation and one of the biggest events for Wichita Falls every year.

Event officials say some Wichitans consider the race to be disruptive to the community and some are saying the same about the city’s new shared bike lane markings.

“Obviously it requires the motorists to have to slow down, has to move over and such. And sometimes if they can’t move over, it’s gonna slow them down and have them ride behind the cyclists,” HHH Mountain Bike Offroad Trail Director Jimmy Young said.

“If a motorist does come up on a cyclist because of the difference in speeds, the motorist is coming up on the cyclists pretty fast and it can kind of catch them by surprise.

City of Wichita Falls Director of Transportation John Burrus said he has also been hearing concerns about the new lanes.

He tells motorists to get ready because there are more shared lanes to come.

“You’ve got to yield the right of way if they’re in front of you and then our local ordinance says you’ve got to give that cyclist adequate clearance when you pass them. But once you pass them you can turn right back into that lane,” Burrus said.

Hotter’N Hell officials say while biking trails are preferred for exercise, riding in these lanes is safer than riding on the sidewalk but it is still dangerous.

That there will be understandings for cyclists and motorists to get used to.

“We have a ton of students at midwestern state. A lot of them, they rely solely on a bike for their transportation. There’s a lot of folks in town for whatever reason, special needs, that can’t drive a car but they can ride a bike,” Young said.

“It’s not just looking out for people that are out trying to train for an event or anything else. It’s remembering that this is these folks’ only transportation to get back and forth to work is these bikes.”

“It’s scary. It’s always scary because you just have no protection. That’s why we’re so glad the city of Wichita Falls is trying to improve driver awareness. We greatly appreciate that,” HHH Gravel Ride Race Director David Coleman said.

Burrus suggested maybe these complaints mean more vehicles are on the roads and that this is just the side effect of a growing city.

Burrus said the shared bike lanes were done because the roads had no room for a separate bike lane.

9th Street from Ohio Ave to Seymour Highway is next on the list and should be completed by September.

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July 23 2021 05:30 am

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