Since the adoption of the Complete Streets ordinance in 2017, the City of KCMO has been working to find opportunities to improve the built environment for all road users. The most recent effort on this front is the soon-to-be-complete improvements along portions of Gillham Plaza between Armour Boulevard and 31st Street.
The city conducted a public engagement process earlier as part of the 2017 Gillham Road Planning Sustainable Places Study. The recommendations that came from that engagement helped to inform the eventual designs. Additionally, the KCMO staff mobility committee met monthly in 2019 to refine the conceptual design and develop a project that could be implemented.
Among other improvements, the project will improve the built environment for multimodal users in the following ways:
- Traffic calming and improved pedestrian crossings
- Portions of the project will include dedicated bike facilities
- Improvements to the northbound bus stops at Armour and Linwood
The project is funded with the Complete Streets set-aside that was allocated in the 2019-2020 street preservation budget.
While it is good to see the City of KCMO working to improve streets for everyone, we do have some concerns about the design which we have shared with the city.
Our most serious safety concerns with the design are between 31st Street and Linwood Boulevard. In this location the proposed design shows southbound cyclists directly adjacent to oncoming high speed northbound traffic with no barrier or protection. Even a minor swerve or fall would put cyclists directly in the path of busy traffic.
Options we have proposed to the city to address these safety concerns include:
- Splitting the cycletrack around the existing trees. The northbound cycle track could be adjacent to the existing sidewalk, and the southbound cycle track could be located between the existing trees and curb line, with a landscape buffer providing plenty of space. This would provide safe and beautiful infrastructure and improve the functionality of the existing sidewalk.
- Alternately or additionally, they could reduce the width of the travel lanes on this block. This would provide four additional feet of buffer to separate cyclists from busy traffic.
Throughout the engagement process for Gillham improvements, community members have highlighted traffic speed and safety of pedestrian crossings as top priorities. While the proposed design provides new connections for people on bikes, it does not directly respond to the need to calm and slow traffic.
Ultimately, a reduction of travel lanes will be necessary to address community concerns and provide a street that is as safe and comfortable as possible for all road users.