Understanding the Bike-Friendly State Rankings for Kansas and Missouri
The League of American Bicyclists recently released their 2022 rankings of bike-friendly states, and the results were a mixed bag for Kansas and Missouri. Kansas improved from 37th in 2019 to 30th in 2022. Missouri regressed, falling from 35th in 2019 to 45th in 2022.
The rankings are an average based on grades in several factors:
Both states can do more in three key areas:
Funding - Both states spend less than 2% of their federal transportation funding on walking and biking improvements, and virtually zero state funds. The new federal infrastructure bill gives both states an important new opportunity to invest more in active transportation.
Complete Streets - Both states also fall short in the area of Complete Streets, but for different reasons. Kansas has never adopted a statewide Complete Streets policy. Missouri has adopted such a policy, but it’s long past due for an update. Both states should consider more explicit language in their Complete Streets policies that prioritizes the communities where projects are implemented. To improve walking, rolling, and biking in communities of color, low-income communities, rural communities, and communities with high concentrations of households without access to a car should be at the top of the priority list.
Active Transportation Planning - Finally, it’s important for both states to have a plan for how they want to make these improvements. While Kansas didn’t publish the update to their statewide active transportation plan in time for the League’s report, they will have a robust document to inform their efforts (and likely improve their score) when rankings are done again. Missouri has never developed such a document, but BikeWalkKC and our partners with Missourians for Responsible Transportation are working to change that
While there are many people who walk, roll, and bike in Kansas and Missouri, reports like this one from the League of American Bicyclists show they are not prioritized as they should be. This didn’t just happen; it is the result of deliberate choices in policy, planning, and funding.
The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way, and the better news is that we have opportunities to change this reality for the better in both states. The best news remains a question: will you help us to make that change happen?