Making space for safe physical activity during the pandemic

Update April 24, 2020

The Open Streets initiative is underway in Kansas City, Missouri! Open Streets includes three efforts: automatic pedestrian signals, neighborhood Open Streets permits and road closures near parks and trails. These “local traffic only” road closures create more space for people to be active outdoors while maintaining six feet of social distance:

  • Kenwood Avenue: 39th to 43rd St. (Gillham Park Area)
  • Brookside Road: Meyer to Gregory Blvd and 77th to 83rd St. (Trolley Track Trail Area)
  • River Front Drive: Union Berkley Riverfront Apartments east to dead end (Berkley Riverfront Park Area)

Learn more about Open Streets

 

You might be feeling extra antsy to get outside as stay-at-home orders are extended across the region. Physical activity is an essential activity with many health benefits, like reducing stress and improving sleep. All of this contributes to a healthy immune system.

But some parks and trails have closed due to crowding. Many sidewalks are too narrow to walk at a safe social distance. Even with less traffic on the roads, streets aren’t necessarily safer for pedestrians. Just this week one pedestrian was hit, the other killed in Kansas City, Missouri.

These health and safety concerns have a bigger impact on people of color. Black neighborhoods are more likely to lack parks and green space and have higher rates of pedestrian deaths.

In response, cities are making space for safe physical activity during the pandemic. The City of Kansas City, Missouri’s City Council passed an Open Streets resolution on Thursday, April 16, 2020 to allow temporary street closures for walking and biking until the state of emergency is lifted. KC Parks has already closed roads to car traffic at Swope Park and Blue Valley Park. Find more information at KC Parks Open Streets.

Our friends at BikeWalkKC have even more ideas about how to make safe space for more people. We have worked with them and other community partners to make streets safer for people of all ages and abilities by advocating for local policies and teaching kids how to speak out for walkable neighborhoods. Learn how you can speak out for safe, walkable neighborhoods during the pandemic and beyond.

Walking Detective

Go on a walking investigation to find clues and collect evidence to learn how walkable your community is. Build a case report to show city officials what things are working well and what things need to be improved.

Speak Out for Safe Streets

We have advocated for local policies like Complete Streets, Vision Zero and the Bike KC Master Plan. Contact Andrea at aclark@kchealthykids.org to join the coalition of organizations speaking out for safe streets.

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