With all of the policy developments around biking and transit, it’s easy to walk past the developments on the pedestrian front in Kansas City. Yet even within the years of the pandemic, there have been bright spots for walking in the city, supported by the advocacy efforts of people like you. Let’s take a step back and consider what’s happened:
Open Streets – In Spring 2020, we successfully pushed for and helped write the Open Streets policy to allow neighborhoods to close residential streets to create more space to walk, bike, and play during the pandemic lockdown and into the future. This was part of a broader pandemic response which also included automatic pedestrian crossings at over 100 intersections and the outdoor dining program for local restaurants.
Vision Zero – The Vision Zero resolution declares traffic violence a public health crisis and will push KCMO to end traffic violence by 2030. A task force created by the legislation is working to develop an action plan, and we will advocate for City Hall to finish the plan in 2022. Meanwhile, investment in Vision Zero safety projects is underway. The City Council recently approved $1.3 million “for traffic calming measures at up to 50 locations throughout the City” as part of the implementation efforts (see Ordinance 211031).
Repealing Jaywalking – BikeWalkKC organized a coalition to advocate for the repeal of jaywalking and other measures which led to the over-policing of people walking and biking in KCMO. The measure to repeal jaywalking was pushed to the forefront when city staff revealed that of the jaywalking tickets given out over the last three years, 65% went to Black pedestrians, despite the fact that Black people make up only 30% of the city’s population.
Sidewalk Prioritization Plan – Another recent development came in December 2021, when the City Council funded a sidewalk construction prioritization plan (see Ordinance 211032). It is an important step in helping to fix broken sidewalks, and to build new ones in a proactive way. The sidewalks will connect people to key destinations, and they will support the broader goals of the city. It is also an important next step in the city’s sidewalk repair program, for which we fought to dedicate $150 million of the infrastructure bonds that voters approved in 2017.
Follow Up Audit on GOkc Sidewalk Repair Program – Finally, the City Auditor for KCMO is conducting a follow-up audit of the GOkc Sidewalk repair program. Created through a voter-approved tax increase in April 2017, the program is designed to evaluate, repair, and replace residential sidewalks; install ADA compliant ramps, and evaluate and replace curbs. The program is expected to receive $150 million over the next 20 years. The audit seeks to answer the question “Did Public Works improve inspection practices and observable outcomes of the GOkc Sidewalk Repair Program since our 2019 audit?” A report is expected in April 2022.
While these are all good developments, they merely speak to parts of the broader pedestrian experience in KCMO. That’s got us thinking: what else should the city consider as it works to improve streets for people to walk and roll? Tell us what you’d like to see at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Making faster progress on walkability is one of our top advocacy priorities for 2022. Stay tuned for more details, and be sure to sign up for our Policy Platform webinar on January 27th.