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Grassroots campaign organizes for more pedestrian-friendly streets in Columbia

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)

CoMo Livable Streets is a grassroots campaign organized by a group called Local Motion to add more bike lanes, crosswalks and paved sidewalks to Columbia roads.

The group plans to present a proposed policy to Columbia City Council this coming fall, but first, they're trying to gain support from at least 5,000 Columbia residents. After only a few weeks of campaigning, they have over 350 signatures.

The most recent data from the Missouri State Highway Patrol shows most pedestrian crashes happen on the road. In 2020, 110 people were killed in pedestrian crashes that happened on roads and 968 people were injured. That's compared to three people killed in pedestrian crashes on the sidewalk and 47 injured.

In 2020 there was a total of 1,342 pedestrian crashes on Missouri roads and 407 bicycle crashes, according to data from MSHP.

Richard Stone, engineering and operations manager with Columbia Public Works, said the city is committed to improving road accessibility for all modes of transportation.

"The built environment is generally over 80 years old, which can present significant challenges in some locations," Stone said. "There is still work to be done to improve facets of the network for many locations, but the City has been committed to providing better facilities for all users for more than 20 years."

In 2004, Columbia was the first city in Missouri to adopt the Complete Streets program. The program focuses on bringing wheelchair, pedestrian and bicycle access into designs

"We have been actively working to improve already-built locations throughout the City, making them more user-friendly and safer for all modes of travel," Stone said. "Those improvements, coupled with our extensive trail system and planned improvements to further enhance non-motorized transportation options along with continued connectivity and safety improvements for the roadway network, will be important for citizens moving forward, regardless of their choice of travel."

However, Rikki Ascani, community engagement supervisor with CoMo Livable Streets, said Columbia's Complete Streets policy is now outdated.

"It was really progressive for its time, but it's of course been almost 20 years and it has not been updated," Ascani said. "And so now it is no longer progressive for its time and a lot of rural communities in Missouri have like surpassed us."

Como Livable Streets is asking the city to do more to create streets where people can not only get from one place to another but also use the streets as an extension of their neighborhood.

A section from the website describes the group's vision: "Kids play in the street. Neighbors pass by on the sidewalk, walking a dog, pushing a stroller, or rolling a wheelchair. A bus stops at the end of the street and drops off people coming home from work. A mom and kids bike by on their way to pick up a few groceries for dinner."

Ascani also pointed out that building bike lanes and sidewalks is cheaper than expanding the driving lanes. While adding another lane for cars costs on average $10 million per mile, according to the Federal Highway Administration, a new bike lane is between $5,000 and $50,000 per mile.

Ascani says the group hopes to present its proposed policy to the city council sometime between September and November. In the meantime, a campaign kick-off event will be held at the Columbia Public Library on June 30.

Article Topic Follows: Columbia
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Hannah Falcon

Hannah joined the ABC 17 News Team from Houston, Texas, in June 2021. She graduated from Texas A&M University. She was editor of her school newspaper and interned with KPRC in Houston. Hannah also spent a semester in Washington, D.C., and loves political reporting.

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