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.

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