By Holly Cook
More than one-fourth of Roeland Park’s streets lack sidewalks, according to a pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure strategy guide presented during Monday’s Governing Body Workshop.
Councilors heard from BikeWalkKC representatives on how the city could improve walkability by adding new sidewalks and making existing sidewalk paths more user friendly.
High-priority improvements include adding sidewalks along network streets, such as Roe Boulevard.
Adding sidewalks to streets determined to be in poor condition was listed as a second-tier priority. The report noted that waiting to add sidewalks until reconstruction of the streets was underway could “simplify the design process and require fewer City resources.”
The report recommended adding bike lanes along Roe Lane, Elledge Drive, 47th Street, and 51st Street between Buena Vista Street and Roe Avenue. Segments of 50th Terrace, 51st Street and Nall Avenue were also noted in the bike lane recommendations.
Thomas Morefield, BikeWalkKC Community Manager, said the strategy behind the plan was to create a network of sidewalks that provides pedestrians the most access to the most destinations.
The strategy guide is being used by city staff and the on-call engineer to update the 2017 Revised Sidewalk Masterplan.
Councilmember Teresa Kelly acknowledged that residents and visitors may shy away from traveling throughout the city on bike or by foot because of safety concerns. Kelly said she thought that if the city improved its sidewalks they would see an influx of foot and bicycle traffic.
“…I think it’s a case of if we provide it, it will be used more,” Kelly said. “Pedestrians use safe spaces.”
Mayor Joel Marquardt noted the importance of creating a safe path to the Mission Gateway area.
“If and when the Mission Gateway gets going, that will be a high priority path for people to walk to that site,” Marquardt said.
Councilmember Michael Rhoades mentioned concerns with residential areas not being designated as high-priority projects and said he may submit changes to the plan. Marquardt also noted had heard concerns from residents about a lack of safe walking paths around Roesland Elementary School.
Councilmember Sheri McNeil pointed out that additional sidewalk construction would eat into greenspace and increase water runoff.
“Please, please do your homework on the new sidewalks,” McNeil said.
Councilmembers gave consensus to move the resolution for an updated sidewalk plan to an upcoming council meeting agenda.
The full presentation is embedded below: