KCMO Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee to Discuss Paseo Gateway

The Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) is calling a special meeting to take public testimony and hear presentations on several plans in relation to the Paseo Gateway – a major reconstruction of the intersection of Paseo Boulevard and Independence Avenue. The meeting will be held on Tuesday, May 15th from 5:30 to 7:00 at the Independence Avenue CID office at 2657 Independence Ave.

The proposal simplifies the intersection, adds sidewalks and a bike path to Paseo, and adds turn lanes to Independence Ave.

During a presentation at the April BPAC meeting when the design was first revealed, several committee members expressed concern with elements of the design. A very lightly attended public meeting the following day raised further concern that many community stakeholders and public agencies had not been adequately engaged in the design process.

In a written message BPAC chair, Eric Bunch (who, in full disclosure, also serves as BikeWalkKC’s policy director) listed a few reasons why the proposed design may not comply with the recently adopted Complete Streets ordinance:

  • It does not implement the bike plan on Independence Ave – both the old BikeKC plan and the draft of the new plan show Independence Ave as a bike route for improvements.
  • The design increases pedestrian crossing distance on some legs of the intersection from the current configuration.
  • Some of the City’s traffic data suggests that a road diet is feasible based on the thresholds set by the City’s adopted road diet policy yet this design adds vehicle capacity.
  • Existing bus stops were not included in the design, it is unclear how this design coordinates with KCATA’s plan for BRT on Indie Ave.
  • The design may contradict the recommendations from the Independence Avenue Pedestrian Safety Study which, according to a presentation by planning staff earlier this year, called for traffic calming and a road diet on this section of Indie Ave which are not included in the proposed design.

This stretch of Virginia Ave. in Indianapolis was a major barrier between the Fountain Square Neighborhood and downtown before the Indianapolis Cultural Trail. This approach could bridge the gap between the Northeast and Columbus Park.

The bottom line is this: given the current sidesteps, the glaring lack of community input, and the inability to fully address larger issues with connectivity as it relates to active transportation, this plan simply cannot proceed in its current form. To do so would not only defeat the purpose of the Complete Streets ordinance, but would also fail to serve the diverse neighborhoods that will be affected by whatever is ultimately constructed.

A group of our staff, along with city staff from Kansas City, Missouri, recently traveled to Indianapolis for the Places For Bikes Conference. What surprised us all was how the City has been able to weave together the different areas with the innovative Cultural Trail.

Like Indianapolis, the Paseo Gateway offers a prime opportunity for Kansas City to link together some of the most popular neighborhoods in the city. A direct bicycle/pedestrian connection between the Northeast, the River Market, and the Crossroads can not only provide an attraction that rivals that of Indianapolis, but it can also be a catalyst for further investment and set the stage for a deeper reconciliation between neighborhoods historically isolated from one another by the built environment.

We have a real chance to begin to help our city heal, if we make smart, focused investments in the built environment. The Paseo Gateway is our chance to get this right.


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