Biking and Busing in Kansas City

I took my bike out on the highway last week. We hit 55 mph before we had to slow down.

I wasn’t riding my bike of course. We were both on the 51X headed to the Plaza after work. I was snug in my seat, and Fifi was tightly fastened on the bus’s front bike rack. It made getting to the plaza much nicer, as I wasn’t sweaty and gross when I met up with friends, and I got there in about half the time it would’ve taken to ride (and not much longer than it would’ve taken to drive).

kansas city scout sunset skyline

Seeeeee? I told you that ride back from the plaza was beautiful!

Taking your bike on the bus opens up fun new ways of getting around town while getting a few miles in at the same time. For example, in the plaza example above I was able to ride home that evening, taking a couple of fun detours I would’ve missed if I’d been driving. Plus, it was a BEE-YOO-TEE-FUL night, and I got a little bit of exercise.

If you haven’t used the bike racks on the front of KC’s buses, I can understand if you’re a little apprehensive about using them for the first time. They don’t seem particularly welcoming, and it’s intimidating to think of holding up the bus when they’re on a schedule. I’m here to tell you that it’s easy to overcome both of these things!

First: watch this 2-minute video from KCATA. Loading and unloading your bike is super simple. As someone who will brag about my bikey leg muscles well before mentioning my upper body strength, I can assure you the front racks aren’t too heavy. Just be sure to leave enough space between you and the bus for it to unfold.

Second: I’ve yet to find a driver who is rude about me loading my bike. At worst they’re indifferent. That video may have lasted two minutes, but loading your bike — even the first, most awkward time — only takes a handful of seconds. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to load it in the time it takes for other passengers to board the bus and futz around with their bus passes.

(It’s normal to worry about your bike when it’s on the front rack. Just sit close to the front and breathe easy, mama. That bike isn’t going anywhere. You’re a wonderful bike parent doing the best you can. We all get nervous sometimes. It’s perfectly natural.)

Some of my favorite bike-and-bus combos (start/end in the River Market):

  1. MAX or the 51X to the plaza. Ride back via JC Nichols –> Westport Rd –> Pennsylvania, through Penn Valley Park, and back northish on Southwest Blvd. to Walnut. Bonus points for stopping at Murray’s for ice cream!
  2. Main Street MAX down to Waldo. Ride the Trolley Track Trail back to the plaza, then head over to Rockhill Rd which turns into Gillham which turns into Oak to get north. Bonus points for joining the Brookside Ride on Thursday nights!
  3. The 25 or the 108 to the Kansas City Zoo. Ride back via Meyer Blvd –> Paseo –> 9th St –> Charlotte (now with bike lanes!). Bonus points for finding the piano-key bench at 12th & Paseo!
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