Decriminalizing Walking and Biking

Several local laws criminalize the simple acts of walking and biking, creating the potential for arbitrary stops and over-policing of people as they move through our streets and public spaces - especially of Black and Brown people.

Once stopped by police, Black and Brown people are more likely to face harassment, abuse, or physical violence. A good example is a law on the books in KCMO that allows police to stop someone with dirty bicycle tires. This type of infraction has no connection to safety, but provides an arbitrary reason to stop someone on the street. 

BikeWalkKC advocates for decriminalization of walking and biking 

KCMO City Hall is reviewing all laws and policies for potential decriminalization. We looked at the laws for walking and bicycling, and submitted a proposal to Mayor Lucas. This issue is also a priority on our 2021 Policy Agenda.

Legislation to decriminalize walking and biking has been introduced at City Hall and will be heard later this month. Individuals can use the form below to quickly send a message of support to the Mayor and your City Councilmembers (KCMO residents only). Organizations can sign a letter of support here.

You can see a copy of the legislation by clicking here. See our Frequently Asked Questions to learn more about this issue.

Organizations supporting Decriminalization of Walking and Biking include:

How can you help?

1. 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 City Hall understand the impact of this issue in our community.

2. Contact City Council

KCMO residents, use this form to send an email to the Mayor and your City Councilmember expressing your support to decriminalize walking and biking.

3. Watch our information session

Watch our virtual information session from Tuesday, February 9, 2021. We gave a brief overview of what decriminalization of walking and biking might mean for Kansas City and talk about how people like you can speak up for change.

4. Keep up the work in other cities

While the current momentum is in KCMO, we want to work with our members and partners throughout the metro area to review local laws and advocate for changes where needed. Contact policy@bikewalkkc.org and we can discuss making a difference in your community.

Further Reading

9 Reasons to Eliminate Jaywalking Laws Now - Bloomberg CityLab, 2020

Black Cyclists Are Stopped More Often Than Whites, Police Data Shows - Bicycling Magazine, 2020

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

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

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

Police Are Being Used To Exclude Black People From Public Places - NPR, 2018

The Toxic Intersection of Racism and Public Space - Bloomberg CityLab, 2020

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

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