WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) - The streets of Wichita are getting busier as more people lean toward two wheels instead of four.

The popularity of biking in Wichita is not going unnoticed as The Wichita Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (WAMPO) creates a new position dedicated to the infrastructure and safety of biking and walking.

"The federal and state government is seeing the same thing and so they're prioritizing it and that is where the funding comes from so now our local governments are also prioritizing," said Bike Walk Wichita’s Executive Director Kimberly Neufeld.

Neufeld said more people bike as their preferred mode of transportation and began doing so during the pandemic as in the case of biker Duane Staats.  

"Because it was a safe activity and in doing so now almost four years later I've put about 7500 miles on the bike it became almost an addiction," said Staats.   

Neufeld added, "Gyms were closed. People needed to get out and be active. They realized their physical health and their mental health really was impacted by their level of activity." 

Not only did COVID have an impact Neufeld said there has also been an overall cultural shift with a younger generation. She said they don’t want to drive 30 minutes to commute to work. They prefer to find employment where you can either bike or walk.  

WAMPO does an annual bike and pedestrian count which resulted in seeing this increase. They have since created a position, that Neufeld accepted, dedicated to the infrastructure and safety for biking within the region.  

Neufeld said data has shown that there has been an increase in the number of pedestrians who have been struck by vehicles including people in wheelchairs and using mobility devices.  She said the city and county have been proactive in wanting to address these issues.  

In her new position, Neufeld will focus on 22 cities that WAMPO serves looking into what infrastructure is needed.