The challenge: find a direct route from Downtown to the Plaza through all of the hurdles presented by the unfriendly streets of Midtown. The solution: Route B, The Midtowner.
Some routes present themselves immediately; it took a great deal of riding to finally uncover this gem of a route.
The key was finding a way to navigate through Penn Valley Park and the St. Luke’s medical campus. With the help of an unlikely shortcut around the dog park in Penn Valley, we were able to design a route that is direct and avoids nearly all of the scary arterials and dangerous intersections of Midtown.
Starting at Mile Zero (12th and Walnut), the route uses Walnut Street through the Crossroads, as do many of our routes. Walnut has low traffic volume and slow speeds. It’s a much better route than the “official” bike route of Grand Avenue, with its fading unprotected bike lanes lying one block to the east. Trust us–take Walnut.
The B Line jogs over to Main at 20th Street and runs along the streetcar tracks to where it turns west on Pershing Road at Union Station. Generally we’d avoid riding near tracks, but there are no good alternatives for crossing the KC Terminal railroad tracks below.
Then comes Penn Valley Park. The Central Park of Kansas City it ain’t, nearly ruined as it is by busy streets. The park is actually a sprawling barrier to cycling in the heart of the city. But our route will get you through it on a surprisingly safe and direct path–provided you have the hill climbing superiority of an e-bike. Turn up Kessler Road just west of Union Station. It’s a long grade up to the dog park, where you’ll need to endure a bumpy pedestrian path along the dog-park perimeter fence and then down that path to where Wyandotte Street cuts beneath 31st Street.
Wyandotte Street is your reward for enduring the bone-jarring path. It’ll take you all the way into Westport on one of the most pleasant and quietest streets in Midtown. In particular, the east side of the 3400 block is one of the best streetscapes in Kansas City.
In using Wyandotte, you avoid intersecting with 31st Street, cross Linwood on a quiet stretch, and cross 39th Street on another easy intersection.
In Westport, you take Westport Road west to Mill Street and then, with the aid of a few jogs, use Pennsylvania through the initially intimidating but actually quite acceptable streets in the St. Luke’s hospital complex for a final descent into the heart of the Plaza.
Route B: The Midtowner
Length: 4.6 miles