Thursday, July 28, 2011

Networking to spread the Livable Streets message

The Livable Streets Team is out in force today at the quarterly meeting of the Missouri Council for Activity and Nutrition.

MOCAN is a statewide coalition of state and agencies, academics, public health practitioners and other like-minds who met quarterly to explore how to create a healthier and more active Missouri. Missouri Livable Streets is a sponsored program of MOCAN.

I am grateful for the networking opportunities that happen when I go to MOCAN meetings. Today at MOCAN I learned how public health nurses in Southeast Missouri are working to make kids more active. There is a livable streets part to that puzzle. I also learned about Livable Streets efforts happening in Johnson County, Kansas (in Metro Kansas City). There were other tales of community members warming (literally this month!) to the idea of livable streets in their towns.

By participating in coalitions such as MOCAN Missouri Livable Streets gets to spread the message to corners of the state that our small staff and advisors could not reach by ourselves. If you are interested in spreading the message about livable streets to a local group you work with check out the information we have for advocates like yourself at our website.

Be well and see you in the streets,

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Building on Missouri's Great Places

Missouri has a lot of wonderful communities. Whether they hug the Missouri River, rest amongst Ozark hills or serve as regional trading hubs in the farm country of the north.

Imagine these cities, towns and rural places building on their current greatness by becoming more intentionally more walkable, bikable and accessible for those in wheelchairs. Imagine these places with density and forms that encourage residents to be active in reaching destinations that we all care about: the grocery store, the parks, friends houses and church. To build on their current greatness, Missouri's cities need to consider how all residents move throughout town. When local leaders only consider how to move cars as fast as possible we end up with communities sold out to concrete, oil and speed. Yes, Missourians who have them are dependent on their cars to get to work, school and retail.

In an effort to get our cities thinking more about how to create communities that are friendlier for those on foot, bike and wheel the Missouri General Assembly adopted on May 12 a Complete Streets Resolution. This resolution encourages communities to consider and adopt local Complete Streets policies. Such policies require "organizations and agencies that build, control, maintain, or fund roads, highways, and bridges in Missouri 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." Local complete streets policies are one step to getting more walkable, bikable and accessible communities. Additional steps might include revising local zoning ordinances to see how these encourage the construction of quality places that encourage active transportation and social interaction. The Mid-America Regional Council is heading the right direction by encouraging local governments to support pedestrian activity centers among its member governments in the Kansas City metro area.

Friday, July 8, 2011

A reminder about the economy of livable streets

Here is a reminder from one bicycle commuter that not all who ride and walk do so as a choice. Some need to walk and ride and use transit as a matter of economics.

At Missouri Livable Streets we work to create change and provide information that is accessible to all citizens regardless of their abilities or means. Sometimes, however, we tend to run with people just like us. We need reminders that there remain great numbers of Americans who simply will not come to advocacy trainings, get organized and advocate for change at the times and places we tell them to. Such invisibility clearly is not due to apathy so much as these folks are busy working (maybe a couple jobs), raising families and trying to keep it together financially.

Elly, thanks for the reminder. We can and will try harder to remember those who truly need livable streets.