Featured image photo credit: Christy Radecic for Hollis + Miller Architects
Matt Roberds is a resident who lives near Blue Springs High School. When he heard that the school district planned to make some improvements around the school, he began to dig deeper. He found that the proposed changes lacked details on how to improve walking and biking in the area, and decided to attend the next city planning commission meeting to voice his concerns.
Matt’s question to BikeWalkKC was this: “Do you have any tips on ‘what to say at the city planning meeting’ that I could use?”
BikeWalkKC staff made the following suggestion:
Check out the city’s comprehensive plan.
What is a comprehensive plan? A comprehensive plan is exactly what it sounds like: a plan which informs just about every aspect of how a community intends to grow and develop. These plans often include information about transportation as well as general guidance on how a city should work to meet their goals on issues like walking and biking.
The Comprehensive Plan for Blue Springs included information about transportation costs (p. 12) as well as a vision for improving aspects of walking and biking (pp. 22, 54, 57, 61) in the community over time.
Taking this advice, Matt looked through the plan before the meeting and was able to refer to parts of it when it was his turn to speak. As it turns out, Matt was not alone: several other residents also voiced concerns about the inability to walk and bike in the proposed area.
Matt would go on to speak about the need for pedestrian and bicycle access in the proposed plan at another planning commission meeting and two city council meetings. Throughout his comments, he cited the Comprehensive Plan and appealed to leaders to find ways to support the needs of people who walk and bike in the area.
Matt’s persistence had a real impact. The City Council ultimately decided on a plan which includes a new sidewalk and bridge for multimodal use over the railroad tracks to the south of the school.
Matt’s experience is a great example of how to be an effective advocate for better walking and biking in your community. There were three keys to his success:
- He stayed informed on what was happening at City Hall.
- He read through community documents to help his argument.
- He spoke up when he had the opportunity.
Thanks to Matt’s efforts, students and parents in the area will now have a safer way to get to and from the school and more easily navigate the area by foot or bicycle.
Update December 2022: The school district hopes to complete the bridge connecting the two campuses in time for the Fall 2023 semester!
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