Harry S. Truman loved to walk. He walked for health, he walked to deposit his Presidential paycheck, and after he returned home from DC, he walked around downtown Independence. Fifty years later, the Independence School District and the City of Independence are honoring their most famous resident by promoting active living and safe streets.
After regularly participating in the ISD’s Wellness Expo, BikeWalkKC formed a deeper partnership with the District through the Eastern Jackson County Community Health Improvement Project. By the end of 2019, we will have offered programming in 11 schools in Independence, including Bike Lessons and Safety Training (BLAST) and Earn-a-Bike courses. Our Education team has enjoyed working with nearly 2500 children, especially the 300+ new riders. “Students at Fairmount were among the most determined that we have worked with in the metro. Every kid that was learning how to ride a bike for the first time did so with gusto and grit. Those Bulldogs are tough,” said Karl Kraemer, Education Operations Coordinator with BikeWalkKC. And Instructor Quincy Jennings was made an Honorary 3 Trails Tiger after spending rainy days teaching kids how to ride up and down the hallways of their school!
An early adopter of a Complete Streets policy, the City of Independence is supporting the ISD with Sidewalks to Schools and Sidewalks to Parks efforts, which will create safe and accessible walking routes for important family destinations. The City has also launched a new “Truman Connected” project. This initiative proposes a dedicated walking/biking path linking neighborhoods and popular destinations like the Englewood Arts District, Truman Sports Complex, and others. The planning process includes working with the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) and a steering committee to explore opportunities and challenges, solicit feedback through online comments, and deliver a vision and report at public meetings before completing a final draft. According to the City’s website, “the Truman Connected project is working to identify a route and facility that is a safe, inclusive, and aesthetically pleasing space for walking and biking that connects the people of Independence to each other and to the City’s rich history.”
You can speak up for safe and accessible active transportation in Independence by taking the Truman Connected Survey and writing your Councilperson. Independence is poised to make some big changes for street safety and active living, and we think Harry Truman would be proud!