Walking and bicycling are simple solutions to KC’s most pressing challenges

BikeWalkKC’s Advocacy Director, Eric Rogers, recently wrote this opinion piece for the Kansas City Star.
(original on KC Star web site)

Sunday, July 17th, 2011
Kansas City has ignored walkers and bicyclists for too long
Special to The Star
The Star recently published an editorial challenging Kansas City to paint 22 miles of bike lanes this summer. BikeWalkKC seconds this challenge and requests that crosswalks be added to this list. We know that bicycling and walking are simple yet powerful solutions to some of our city’s biggest challenges.
Kansas City faces some serious challenges: we live in a city where high rates of obesity, diabetes and heart disease are driving up health costs. We have many award-winning colleges and universities creating a talented workforce, but that workforce is being tempted away by dynamic, walkable cities like Denver, Minneapolis, and even Omaha and Indianapolis.
We breathe air contaminated with automobile exhaust, the single biggest source of greenhouse gases in Kansas City. And transportation costs exceed our housing costs, with large numbers of people living without access to automobiles. Land use and development decisions are putting more and more people and jobs beyond the reach of public transit. Our built environment and mindset is hurting us and having dramatic results on our youth. We live in an age where our children will live shorter lives than their parents — we need to reverse this immediately.
When cities invest in trails, bike lanes, sidewalks and crosswalks, they begin to reverse these dire trends by making it easier for residents to walk to the library, bike to work, walk to school, bike to the store or walk to the local park. How many times have we heard, “I only live a block from school, but there is no safe crosswalk”?
With just a simple solution like paint suddenly Kansas Citians would get more exercise as part of their daily lives, and experience the freedom of greater mobility, independence and meeting their neighbors face-to-face. Let’s get the children of Kansas City healthy on their way to school and have the crosswalks painted before school starts.
A city with transportation choice is a livable, healthier and economically competitive city.
Our challenges are large, but the solutions are simple — bicycling and walking.
BikeWalkKC is asking local mayors and city councils to put paint to pavement this summer with more bike lanes and crosswalks. Visit www.bikewalkkc.org to ask your mayor to paint the town this summer.
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