Efforts by K.C. Healthy Kids, The Greater Kansas City Food Policy Coalition, LISC and others to promote healthy living was rewarded when the Kansas State Senate passed a Livable Streets Resolution Thursday, February 23, 2012. Also called Complete Streets, Livable Streets are created to enable safe travel by all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, public transportation riders and drivers and people of all ages and abilities, including children, youth, families, older adults and individuals with disabilities.
The Senate declared its support for the policies of Resolution 1805 and will urge their adoption at the local, metropolitan, regional, state and national levels. The Senate said it will encourage and urge a number of organizations which build, control, maintain or fund roads, highways and bridges in Kansas to adopt Complete Streets policies and to plan, design, build and maintain their road and street system to provide complete, safe access to all road users. Among the groups the Senate pointed to were the United States department of Transportation, the Kansas Department of Transportation, the governing bodies of Metropolitan Planning Organizations and Regional Planning Commissions and municipalities.
With obesity levels rising every year and Kansas ranked as the 16th-most obese state in the nation with an adult rate of 29 percent and a rating of 18th in the country with a child obesity mark of 16 percent, building communities which promote active living will help combat these rates.
"It is not a coincidence that childhood obesity has increased while the physical environment around us has become singularly focused on moving cars," KC Healthy Kids said in a letter to the Senate. "In our focus on moving cars, we have sacrificed what should be natural opportunities for children to move and play throughout the day. "Children and teenagers should be able to safely walk to school or a friend's house or bike to the park," The letter added. "A young child should be able to pull his red wagon down a sidewalk in front of his house, but he can't do that if there is no sidewalk."
KC Healthy Kids also pointed out the need for safe places to cross streets for pedestrians and said that Complete Streets have been shown to reduce accidents and traffic jams as well. If streets are designed properly they can encourage walking and bicycling, which improves the public health and reduces treatment costs for conditions associated with reduced physical activity, including obesity, heart disease, lung disease and diabetes. Several governments in the state of already passed Complete Street policies including the cities of Leawood, Roeland Park, Topeka and the Unified Government of Wyandotte County.