To make their neighborhood a healthier and safer environment, the community of Rosedale is using a policy – Complete Streets – that has quickly spread nationally. Complete Streets means that city officials and contractors will need to consider all users in street design and operations.
Rosedale is a neighborhood located in Kansas City, Kansas in the southeast corner of Wyandotte County. The community is home to the Rosedale World War I Memorial Arch and also the University of Kansas Medical Center.
Rosedale has needed assistance in the community to fix the physical issues in the neighborhood for some time. The neighborhood currently has broken-down curbs, damaged sidewalks, and no storm water drains. Because of these problems, citizens are compelled to drive everywhere instead of utilizing the streets to walk and exercise.
“Part of this was driven by the fact that people were already using the streets for modes of transportation other than cars, “ said Wendy Wilson, executive director of the Rosedale Development Association, “but it wasn’t safe.”
Because of these issues, the community wanted a way to make the neighborhood safe and convenient for those who live there or are visiting. That is when the idea to adopt the Complete Streets policy came into the picture.
Complete Streets, sometimes called “livable streets,” are roadways designed to enable comfortable, safe and attractive streets that are convenient for all type of users, including motorists, bicyclists, pedestrians, and public transport.
Building the neighborhood up will not just be beneficial for those who are traveling, but it will also make the environment more attractive and helpful to parents and kids coming to and from school or work. Monica Mendez, mother of three, is concerned for her children’s safety.
“Even though we know there is school nearby and people are getting used to seeing more bicycles on the road, (drivers) still don’t respect our space.” Mendez said. “There is only one crosswalk between Mission Road and Rainbow; not everyone stops. It’s not safe, even if my kids are old enough to be out on their own.”
Mendez said that she enjoys watching her children ride their bikes and her son, George Mendez prefers it over walking, but she’s afraid to rider her own. “I actually have a bike, but I’m afraid to use it on the street,” she said.
In 2005 Rosedale created a master plan and they sought out opinions from the people it would affect the most – the residents. Rosedale started on the bike lanes in 2009. They wanted the community to have something that would be beneficial and be used. They didn’t stop there; they also drew from the plan when new development began coming to the neighborhood.
“The community wanted high quality development,” Wilson said. The plan led to new townhomes and a new CVS. “Kids walk to school by the CVS, so we didn’t want curb cuts and in the end we convinced them to dead-end the street and create a pocket park in unused space.”
Another partner in the project is KC Healthy Kids. One of KC Healthy Kids’ initiatives is to make communities healthier and make access to healthy living like walking and biking more convenient. They identified the neighborhood of Rosedale as a community with a lot of potential and began providing assistance in grant applications and community outreach.
With the collaboration of both KC Healthy Kids and The Rosedale Development Association, seeing a positive difference in the Rosedale community should not be far away. “People need to walk,” Wilson said. Since pedestrians are already using the streets for transportation, it seems motivation will not be a problem. “We are driven by obesity, and people are already using the routes,” Wilson continued.
The Rosedale Development Association plans to educate the people of the community and the officials while working on infrastructure improvements. The Complete Streets policy will encourage more walking and activity, while creating a more inviting environment that will enrich children’s lives.
“Most people do not realize that the way a community is built affects the health of a child,” said Erika DeVore of KC Healthy Kids. “I predict there will be healthier kids in the Rosedale community,” DeVore said. She has seen positive reactions from the bike lanes and looks forward to the same thing in Rosedale. “It’s a great feeling to see people using the bike lanes,” she said. Changes in the Rosedale neighborhood are ones that will be making a difference in a positive way soon enough.