By DuRon Netsell, Midtown Community Organizer, Bike Parking Specialist
On August 25th, BikeWalkKC, in conjunction with Better Block KC, the Missouri Chapter of the American Planning Association, and Trailnet (St. Louis), hosted a pop up traffic calming demonstration at the intersection of 38th and Warwick in the Old Hyde Park neighborhood of Midtown KCMO. The purpose of this day-long, temporary installation was to help calm traffic speeds in order to create a safer street for those on foot, bike, in a wheelchair, or a car. This demonstration included the addition of two stop signs, enhanced colorful crosswalks, and wide corner bulb outs.
This demonstration worked wonders to improve intersection safety for all users that day. The night before the event, cars were observed traveling through the intersection at 50+ MPH. During the event, every single car that traveled through the intersection was observed making a stop at the stop signs– dramatically reducing traffic speed through the intersection. Simply forcing cars to stop improved conditions and comfort levels for all users while still allowing for the same amount of automobile traffic.
With the four-way stop and colorful crosswalks (a neighborhood favorite), pedestrians were able to cross comfortably and visibility was much improved. The bulb outs served their purpose to narrow travel lanes and ensure drivers use slower speeds while making their turns. What existed the day before, a two-way stop with cars traveling up to 50 MPH, became a colorful intersection safe enough for parents to cross with their children.
Resident input, collected through a questionnaire at the event, yielded positive feedback with many cries for permanency. Below are a few of the responses:
Have you traveled through this intersection before?
- “Crossing Warwick as a pedestrian is daunting. Warwick is a bike route, but car traffic in this segment can exceed speeds of 45 MPH, making biking feel less safe, as well.”
- “Yes. Regularly cars fly through, making it difficult and discouraging to walk.”
- “Yes. Often. Traffic often travels too fast. Not bike or pedestrian friendly.”
Do you feel that this temporary redesign improves safety at the intersection?
- “Yes! It forces cars to slow (down) and look for pedestrians. It gives them the confidence to cross a busy street.”
- “Yes! The 4-way stop is huge. The colorful crosswalk catches the eye well before the stop sign. The bumpers pushing back where cars park also helps with visibility.”
What would you suggest be done to make this intersection safer?
- “I would suggest this temporary model be made permanent. Need to improve walkability and this makes the neighborhood more friendly (esp. w/ colors!)”
- “I love the colored crosswalk!”
- “I love the intersection presented in the pop-up today.”
After an overwhelmingly positive response from the community, the Old Hyde Park Neighborhood applied for PIAC (Public Improvements Advisory Committee) funding in order to make the installation permanent. BikeWalkKC and neighborhood advocates hope to continue to work with the City of KCMO to make colorful crosswalks legal and a standard within our community.
There are many things you can do to help make your neighborhood more walking and biking friendly:
- Consider writing or calling your local elected officials to let them know active transportation is important to you.
- Attend community meetings that are focused around infrastructure improvements.
- Elect to walk, bike, or use public transit instead of driving (these types of projects will not get built unless there is a strong demand!).
- Become a member of BikeWalkKC in order to help us fulfill our mission of redefining our streets as places for people to build a culture of active living.
- Hold your own pop-up traffic calming demonstration in your neighborhood! Better Block KC and BikeWalkKC will soon offer a “How-To” guide, including a lending library where you can access the same materials used for tactical urbanism events.