A road diet on 47th street includes bike lanes, crosswalks, and a center left turn lane. These features make the street safer for all road users by slowing car traffic and making connections to popular destinations like Lulu’s.
The City of Westwood, Kansas, is the latest Kansas City metro municipality to adopt a Complete Streets policy. “Complete Streets” are defined as streets “designed and operated to enable safe access for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and transit riders of all ages and abilities.” In recent years, communities have sought to make this idea a reality for their own transportation networks through the adoption of Complete Streets legislation. BikeWalkKC has assisted in this effort by developing model Complete Streets legislation for community leaders to use as they craft a measure.
We have already seen this model used in a number of communities across the metro and throughout parts of rural Missouri, and we are honored to have Westwood join the roster of cities prioritizing safer streets. The effort was spearheaded by Councilwoman Laura Steele, who also serves as BikeWalkKC’s director of education.
“Westwood has some big infrastructure improvement projects lined up for the next few years, and now is the perfect time to formalize our City’s commitment to the safety and wellbeing of our most vulnerable road users,” said Councilwoman Steele. “Most of these projects are happening on streets which border a different county or state, so it’s the right move for Westwood to take the lead on initiating a Complete Streets network.”
The adopted policy has received a tentative grade of 79 out of 100 from the National Complete Streets Coalition. If this is the final grade assigned, it would make Westwood’s legislation one of the stronger Complete Streets measures in the region. The legislation supports work already in progress: In 2017, BikeWalkKC worked with community stakeholders to develop the 47th Street Complete Street Plan that outlined a vision for a safer and more resident and business friendly corridor. The current “mostly paint” project provides communities along 47th Street a chance to evaluate how the street is working and improve the design in anticipation of future permanent improvements. Mid America Regional Council has awarded federal Surface Transportation Program grant funding for additional improvements in the corridor, potentially including reconstructed sidewalks, landscaping, and behind-curb bicycle infrastructure.
Westwood Public Works Director John Sullivan noted “I have learned through this process of adopting a Complete Streets ordinance how important it is to consider all modes of transportation as well as the various users themselves in our future road improvements. While we have been mindful of those with various disabilities and how they interact with our community and roadways, I can now also see the benefits of considering the various modes of transportation other than just vehicles.”
BikeWalkKC wishes to extend our congratulations to the City of Westwood on this important development as they seek to create Complete Streets for their community!
If you are able, we hope you will consider becoming a member of BikeWalkKC. Our members are a growing collection of voices speaking up and affirming that our streets are places for people! Click here to join.