Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Adventure awaits! Are you summer travel ready?

By Lisa Mussman
Public Affairs Manager for northwest Kansas 

Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer and the summer travel season. The American Automobile Association (AAA) predicts nearly 43 million Americans will kick off their summer with a holiday getaway with most of them, 37.6 million, traveling by car.

Just like winter, summer weather conditions should be taken into consideration when preparing your vehicle and emergency kit for travel. AAA shares the following summer driving safety tips:


Prepping your car

  • Check the tread depth, inflation and overall condition of all your vehicle’s tires (including the spare) at the start of every season. Tread depth can be checked by placing a quarter in the tread with Washington’s head facing down. If you can see the top of his head, it might be time for new tires.
  • Check and clean battery terminals. Consider having the battery tested if it is more than three years old.
  • Flush your car’s cooling system on a regular basis and make sure coolant levels are topped off. If your car does overheat, do not remove the radiator cap until the engine has cooled down.
  • Replace windshield wipers and wiper fluid if needed. Also check transmission and power steering fluids, and ensure brake lights, headlights, turn signals, emergency flashers and interior lights are working.


In case of emergency…
If you already have an emergency kit from winter, now is a good time to do a quick inventory and replace items as needed. If you don’t have a kit, here are some suggested contents:


  • Cell phone and charger
  • First aid kit
  • Flashlight
  • Flares and a white flag
  • Jumper cables
  • Tire pressure gauge
  • Jack (and ground mat) for changing a tire
  • Work gloves and a change of clothes
  • Basic repair tools and duct tape (for temporarily repairing a hose leak)
  • Water and paper towels, or baby wipes for cleaning up
  • Nonperishable food, drinking water and medicines
  • Extra windshield washer fluid
  • Maps
  • Emergency blankets, towels and coats


Ready, set, go!

Now that your car is ready to hit the road, make sure you’re ready too! When planning your route, check out kandrive.org for construction projects that may affect your trip if traveling in Kansas. Once you’re on the road, try to keep distractions to a minimum. If you must make a call or send a text, find a safe place to pull over; never text and drive! Also, be sure to get plenty of rest before your trip to avoid drowsy driving.

And most importantly, buckle up! Here’s to a great summer of adventures!

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Run for the Wall stops in Kansas


Several hundred motorcyclists make their way across the country during the
Run for the Wall event. 
Several hundred motorcyclists moved through Kansas yesterday during the 31st annual Run for the Wall event, which began in Ontario, Calif., last week. They ride for those who can’t and recognize the sacrifices and contributions of veterans who served our nation.

The ride is designed to help veterans and their loved ones heal. It also serves as a reminder to account for all prisoners of war and those who are missing in action. The ride honors the memories of those killed in all wars and supports military members all over the world.

The riders will complete their journey when they reach the Vietnam Memorial on May 27. Motorcyclists were hosted by Kansas Turnpike Authority, KDOT, the Kansas ABATE chapter and the Kansas Commission on Veterans Affairs at the Topeka Service Area.

After an overnight stop in Junction City, the group was provided with free gas and water by the KTA and Topeka Service Area.

According to the Run for the Wall website, the ride began in 1989 and was started by two Vietnam Veterans, James Gregory and Bill Evans, who raised awareness about the thousands of men and women who are still unaccounted for from all wars.

“We don’t give political speeches or stage demonstrations,” the website said. “RFTW gets its message to the public by riding coast to coast across the United States.”

Motorcyclists stop at the Topeka Service Area, and were provided with free water and gas by the KTA.

The event consists of three different routes. Each route will come together at the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C., where the Run for the Wall officially ends.  Along the way, riders can stop at various memorials, veteran’s hospitals, schools and parades. 

Riders leave the Topeka Service Area and make their way to their next stop.  

Monday, May 20, 2019

Click It. Or Ticket. Law enforcement on the lookout for unrestrained drivers, passengers




TOPEKA, Kan. — Law enforcement agencies across Kansas will be taking a no-excuses approach to saving lives around this Memorial Day weekend. Tickets will be issued to unbuckled occupants as a harsh reminder of the importance of seat belt use at all times.

More than 50 percent of traffic fatalities in Kansas in 2017 were unrestrained. Many of these individuals could have survived the car crash if they had only worn their seat belt. That’s why law enforcement across the state is stepping up enforcement with the Click It. Or Ticket. campaign that runs May 20 through June 2.

“The Click it. Or ticket. campaign isn’t about issuing citations, it’s about saving lives,” said Technical Trooper Ben Gardner, of the Kansas Highway Patrol “Too many people die in motor vehicle crashes who could have survived if they had only buckled up.”

It is prohibited to drive or ride as a passenger in a motor vehicle without wearing a seat belt for a good reason. In 2017, 53 percent of the 316 deaths from automobile crashes in Kansas were not buckled. Pick-up truck drivers, young adults and males are among some of the worst offenders and most at-risk.

“Frustratingly, there are still people out there who do not take that extra second to buckle up,” said Chris Bortz, KDOT Traffic Safety Program Manager. “Any adult not wearing their seat belt could be issued a $30 traffic citation. Make a better decision and buckle up, every trip, every time.”

In 2018, the Kansas observed seat belt usage was 84 percent, below the national average of 90 percent, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  Education coupled with enforcement can raise this rate and ultimately save lives.


Thursday, May 16, 2019

Guest Blog: Gravel rocks! Biking on gravel leads to adventure

Riding bikes on gravel roads is becoming a popular way to travel. Photo Courtesy: Tiffany Burris
By Tiffany Burris, 
Founder and Head Coach at DarkEarly Racing LLC 

I started cycling as part of the triathlon sport. Back then, I just saw the bike as a way to get from the swim to the run. In order to up my triathlon game I turned to my local bike shop, Santa Fe Trails Bicycle and Coffee Shop, in Leavenworth and they encouraged me to enter some local road races and join them on some group rides. I had fun and my eyes were opened to a new world, a subculture I had no idea even existed. 
Photo Courtesy: Tiffany Burris

It was in the spring, when some of the group rides took to the gravel in the hills of Leavenworth County when I lost my heart to those white rock, wash boarded, cursing under your breath but beautiful backroads. Years, miles and a whole fleet of bikes later I’m still hooked and share the gravel gospel with anyone who will listen.

The Dirt Road Debutante Gravel Academy was an Idea that came to me in a place I never thought I would find myself. I was competing in The Win For KC women’s triathlon. 

I was awestruck at how many ladies had entered this event. I spoke with several competitors and the general feeling was that events like this were lower stress and less pressure. During the cycling portion of the race I found myself doing something unheard of in triathlon. I saw a racer on the side of the road struggling with a derailed chain. I pulled over to help her to get it back on and got her back in the race. This is the very moment I decided how I can serve my true passion of gravel cycling and bring women into this community. 

In the world of gravel cycling this act of kindness is the norm, sure there are lots of fast racers that go out hard and play to win, but the vast majority just want to cover the distance, push themselves, have fun and collect stories and memories.

The Dirt Road Debutante Gravel Academy is my best effort to provide an all-inclusive gravel cycling experience aimed at beginner to intermediate lady riders. The clinic will empower women with the skills, knowledge, and tools to be confident on gravel and enter this cycling community.


Gravel riders on the Katy Trail in Atchison. 
Photo Courtesy: Tiffany Burris

The Clinic Info

I have picked some of the best and nicest local female cyclist in Kansas City, Karen Pritchard, Catherine Walberg and Jen Barr, to teach the ladies how to ride gravel with confidence.  They will cover techniques and gravel related topics in class. Some of the topics will include: Tire pressure and type, clips vs flat pedals, how to pack enough water for the ride, what to wear, how to position yourself on the bike for the given terrain and a lot more. Then they will head out on the road to practice what they have learned, under the watchful eye of the pros. 

I have paired with my local bicycle shop, Sante Fe Trails Bicycle and Coffee Shop – where the clinic will be held, to cover bicycle maintenance and common roadside repairs and to do a lactic acid threshold test for those wanting to really train to become better and stronger.  
Riders will have the opportunity to learn about hydration, nutrition, calorie consumption and recovery from Candice McField, a local nutritionist.

A local bicycle safety advocate, Bob Vervecke, will teach the ladies about basic bicycle safety, how to be seen, and to give them information on the different technologies available to protect oneself and to alert family if something happens.

I will cover topics related to training, incorporating a family into your training, ways to sneak it in, goal setting and planning a race/event schedule.


Gravel riders on the Katy Trail in Atchison.
Photo Courtesy: Tiffany Burris

The clinic is made possible by the local and corporate support.  I am not the only one that would like to see more women cyclists.  It is a common discussion around the cycling community but has remained a mystery as to how to make it happen.  It is my belief that many women would like cycling if they knew how to juggle it with all the demands they already have.  

I think women believe they need to be their best or it is not worth doing.  I think you can be your best when you challenge yourself, accept that your best today is different than your best will be later in life. With different life circumstances and understanding, people need to see gravel cycling is about the ride and not the finish line.  Finding a close-knit group is part of the experience and will help get you out of the door on the tough days.  

Making time for yourself, improving your health and seeing things from a new view is often all it takes to have a better outlook on life.

For more information check out www.darkearly.com 

KDOT note: Check back in June for another blog about how gravel riding is having an impact on Kansas communities! 

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

KDOT’s “Infant at Work” program reaches important milestone


By Mallory Goeke
KDOT Communications Specialist 

Bringing a child to work may not be the first thing that comes to mind when a new baby is born, but for KDOT employees, this is an option they have for the first 150 days of their child’s life. 

KDOT began participating in the “Infant at Work” program in 2001. At that time, it was only a pilot project that was under evaluation to determine if it would be feasible to continue.
There are several steps and conditions parents must agree to before their child can come to work.

According to KDOT’s Policy, only parents or grandparents of the child may bring the infant to work. The infant must stay in their parent’s work area for the workday. There must be at least two other KDOT employees who can volunteer to help take over in case the parent has a meeting. 

To help support parents, there are sitting rooms available when babies need to be fed or soothed.
Time Flies! Kelly Broxterman and her twins were the first to participate in the Infants at Work program at KDOT in 2001.

Kelly Broxterman, KDOT’s Grant and Fiscal Coordinator, and her twin sons, Colton and Justin, were the first participants in the program.  In an article from a 2001 issue of the agency’s newsletter, Translines, Broxterman said that she thought the program was a positive experience and provided important information to help build the program.

 Eighteen years later, an additional 114 babies have been able to start their lives out at work with their parents. Justin and Colton are now graduating high school!

Justin and Colton Broxterman were the first babies to participate in the Infant at work program.
They are now graduating high school this weekend.
In retrospect, Broxterman said that the program was a great way to balance work and family. 

“It gave me the ability to return to work quicker and the opportunity to spend time bonding with the boys,” Broxterman said. “As a new parent at the time, having the boys go to work with me was very comforting. They slept quite a bit every day, so I was able to get my work done but could look over and see they were okay.”

KDOT’s Bureau Chief of Personal Services, Denise Schwab said that a lot has changed since the program’s inception. 

“More people are interested now,” Schwab said.  “More senior managers and supervisors are more comfortable with the program and there are more mothers and fathers who are interested. I think it’s really cool that fathers are involved, they often split duties with their spouse.”

Schwab said that in the early development of the program, there was a bit of anxiety that having infants at work would interrupt work flow, but as time has gone by attitudes are changing. Schwab said that hearing the happy sounds that a baby makes can increase office morale.

“There’s a real human side to having an infant at work,” Schwab said. “They bring a lot of joy to the office place, and they are fun to have around.”

There are mutual benefits for both KDOT and the employees who participate in the program.

“One of the positive feedbacks that we receive is how much quicker employees can come back to work,” Schwab said. “Instead of having a vacant seat they are able to come back sooner and be productive.”

According to Schwab there are only a handful of other state DOTs that allow infants in the workplace. She said she has been able to use KDOT as an example when she discusses this program with other agencies.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Share the road: May is Bicycle and Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month



May is Bicycle and Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month and more and more, Americans see walking, running and bicycling as a cost effective, healthy and convenient way to travel. Recognizing this, some communities have become more bicycle and pedestrian friendly by adding bicycle lanes and trails to their infrastructure.  However, this is not possible in every community, making it necessary for motorists and cyclists to share the road.  

With the arrival of warmer weather, here are some tips from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for drivers to help keep everyone as safe as possible on the roads.

1. Bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities to the road as drivers.

2. Treat bicyclists as you would other drivers and be as aware of them in traffic as you are of vehicles.

3. Pass bicyclists as you would vehicles – pass on the left and only when it’s safe to move over into an adjacent lane.  Give them room and don’t pass too closely. Kansas law requires motorists to give bicyclists three feet of space at all times. 

4. Drive defensively. Check your blind spots for bicyclists and pay special attention at stop signs and cross walks.  Before making a right-hand turn, make sure a bicyclist isn’t approaching from the right rear of your vehicle.  Look left, then right and left again. Remember to check behind you as well. 

In addition to recreational bicyclists, Kansas welcomes several cycling events each year including the Great TransAmerica Race, Race Across America, Bike Across Kansas, The Dirty Kanza and other events which will bring hundreds of local, national and international riders to our cities and towns this summer.  

Remember to ditch the distractions and share the road.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Rain, rain go away: Highways in Kansas impacted by flooding


“Rain, rain go away, come again another day,” may be the tune that Kansans hum to themselves as they look at the weather forecast this week.  Parts of the Sunflower State haven’t seen the sun for what seems like days.
Flood waters cover K-4 in Saline County.

With all that rain comes the added risk of flooded roads and highways, and many have experienced this reality already. Today several highways in Kansas, including I-35 south of Wichita are closed.

Driving across flooded roads can be dangerous and there are many reasons for that. Check out this photo from last year when flooded waters washed parts of U.S. 24 away leaving a giant hole. Driving over that could have resulted in tragedy.

Last year flood waters damaged U.S. 24 in Graham County.

Just six inches of water can cause damage to your vehicle? According to SmartDriving.co.uk, water at this level can be sucked into your exhaust system and cause  serious issues for your vehicle.

Trees branches rest on K-98 in Meade County after powerful rushing waters carried them into the roadway. 

Six inches of water can cause your vehicle to lose traction, and 12 inches of water is enough to turn your vehicle in a boat, which it was never designed to be. Water can damage your engine and leave you with an expensive repair bill, or force you to buy a new vehicle.

The best way to stay safe during flood events is to be prepared. Watch the forecast ahead of time to make sure you won’t be encountering severe weather or torrential rainfall. Of course, flash floods can happen without warning. If you encounter a covered roadway, turn around, don’t drown. Never try to drive through it, it could result in the loss of your vehicle or even your life.

Earlier this year, flood waters caused flooding in northeast Kansas near White Cloud. 

For updated road conditions, check the construction tab on www.kandrive.org and pay attention to the weather forecast! More rain is expected today.