Kansas City Pedestrian Deaths Surpassing Last Year’s Rates

The city has taken some steps to address gaps in pedestrian infrastructure, but fatalities are growing as the most disadvantaged communities continue to lack safe walking conditions.

2 minute read

June 28, 2022, 7:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Kansas City

TommyBrison / Shutterstock

Reporting for KCUR, Savannah Hawley raises questions about pedestrian safety in Kansas City, where cars have killed 44 pedestrians so far this year, up from 33 at the same time last year. “Of the 1,485 crash fatalities in the Kansas City metro over the last five years, pedestrians made up 13% — or more than 190 deaths — despite only accounting for about 6% of travelers,” Hawley writes. “Kansas City council member Melissa Robinson said that conditions for pedestrians are especially dire in northeast Kansas City, where last week's accident took place.”

Part of the problem stems from the way the city, until recently, responded to sidewalk maintenance requests. After a long waiting period, local property owners were tasked with paying for repairs, which often left poorer neighborhoods unable to make needed repairs. The city has made efforts to ensure more equitable distribution of city resources for repairing sidewalks and roads, such as a 2017 property tax increase to fund infrastructure repairs. “While improvements have been made, Robinson is firm that every change needs to be made with an eye on equity. People in poorer areas who have no choice but to walk and use public transit need these changes the most.”

The article also addresses the tension between bike lanes and sidewalks, which are sometimes pitted against each other. According to Michael Kelley, policy director at BikeWalkKC,  “The bigger question is why are we repaving the street for the third time while the sidewalk is busted, and not including safer infrastructure that we know could make it safer for everyone?”

Monday, June 27, 2022 in KCUR

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