Decriminalizing Walking and Biking

The term “jaywalking” originated here in KC when it was first published in the Kansas City Star. BikeWalkKC worked to decriminalize the simple acts of walking and biking, especially for Black and Brown people at the greatest risk of excessive stops and over-policing. This work was necessary to realize our vision of a Greater Kansas City where everyone moves through the city and its public spaces equitably, safely, comfortably, and sustainably.

Kansas City, Missouri

In 2021 we heeded Mayor Lucas’ call to repeal city laws and policies that subject Black and Brown people to over-policing and to police violence. We found several statutes that criminalized walking and biking, and developed a proposal to fix the problems.

A prime example is a law on the books in KCMO which allowed police to stop someone with dirty bicycle or car tires. This type of infraction has no connection to safety, but provides an arbitrary reason to stop someone on the street. 

BikeWalkKC assembled a coalition of advocates and community organizations to successfully campaign for the decriminalization of walking and biking, culminating with a unanimous City Council vote in May of 2021.


Our campaign was successful thanks to the strong support of many individual advocates and community organizations:

Next Steps

While the victory in KCMO was a big step forward, we have a lot of work to do in the rest of the metro. It will be especially hard in Kansas, where we will have to change state law that currently does not allow for local cities to opt out of jaywalking and similar laws.

Share your story
Have you experienced “walking while Black” or any other type of over-policing or harassment while walking or biking? Let us know what happened (confidentially, if desired) so we can help policy makers understand how pervasive this problem is in our community. We especially need to hear about incidents outside of KCMO.

Contact and we can discuss making a difference in your community.

Further Reading

Exporting mobility equity from Kansas City around the countryFox 4, 2022

JaywalkingArrested Mobility, 2022

‘I just want to ride my bike:’ An honest talk about racial bias in transportationRocky Mountain PBS, 2021

How to Take on Harmful Jaywalking LawsAmerica Walks, 2021

Advocacy is a Team SportTransLōc, 2021

Jaywalking has been erased from KC–the place where ther term was born – The Pitch KC, 2021

KC moves hard to reclaim power over our streetsThe Pitch KC, 2021

Advocacy group applauds proposed bill that would decriminalize biking, walking – KSHB 41, 2021

KC police can ticket you for dirty tires. Mayor Lucas is right to challenge thatThe Kansas City Star, 2021

9 Reasons to Eliminate Jaywalking Laws NowBloomberg CityLab, 2020

Black Cyclists Are Stopped More Often Than Whites, Police Data ShowsBicycling Magazine, 2020

Living While Black: How Black People Are Policed Just for Being in Public SpacesTeen Vogue, 2020

NYPD’s Racial Bias in ‘Jaywalking’ Tickets Continues into 2020Streetsblog NYC, 2020

Police Are Being Used To Exclude Black People From Public PlacesNPR, 2018

The Toxic Intersection of Racism and Public SpaceBloomberg CityLab, 2020

The US’s jaywalking laws target people of colour. They should be abolishedThe Guardian, 2020

“Walking While Black”ProPublica and the Florida Times-Union, 2017