We are disappointed that the KC Star Editorial Board has chosen to mischaracterize safer streets in Kansas City as a false choice between improvements to the built environment (like bike paths) and other issues facing residents, while ignoring the long-standing disparities in safety and connectivity on the East Side. Residents there are not only more reliant on walking, biking, or transit; they are also at a greater risk of getting hurt or killed trying to get to work, school, or other destinations.
This summer has been dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians in KCMO:
- A 31-year-old male cyclist was critically injured in a crash on 31st and Roanoke (June 4),
- 59-year-old Mark D. Hovey was sitting at a bus stop on 67th and Troost when a driver drove through the bus stop, killing him, and fleeing the scene (June 11),
- 36-year-old LaShanda Temple was so badly injured in a hit-and-run crash that occurred on 31st and Benton that one of her legs had to be amputated (June 16),
- An hour later that same morning, an unidentified woman was killed in a hit-and-run crash on 47th and Ridgeway (June 16)
- A teenage cyclist was struck near the intersection of 26th and Indiana and needed to be taken to the hospital (July 11)
- A 9-year-old boy on a tricycle was knocked unconscious and left in the street by a hit-and-run driver (August 4), and
- A hit-and-run crash on Linwood and Van Brunt left a woman hospitalized in critical condition (August 11).
These crashes are not evenly distributed throughout the city. In fact, the vast majority of these have taken place on the East Side of Kansas City. Check out the map below:
But this isn’t simply a discussion of where crashes are happening. As the next map illustrates, these crashes are part of a broader pattern of safe, accessible transportation isolation:
This map of US Census data shows that many parts of the East Side have more than 30% of households without an automobile. Like most maps of disparities and disinvestments in Kansas City, it’s easy to see where Troost Ave is located. The neighborhoods the Star is concerned about are the parts of our city that need more transportation options than most.
The discussion around bike paths should mimic the reality of bike paths: that they are part of a broader discussion of multimodal transportation, and that they mean safer streets for everyone in Kansas City.
If you are a KCMO cyclist or pedestrian and interested in sharing your story about the challenges of biking and walking in Kansas City, please click here: https://bikewalkkc.org/advocacy/yourstory/