Kansas City considers ‘Road Diets’ for Midtown

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The city is studying whether it can make Midtown more bicycle and pedestrian friendly by reducing lanes on three major streets.

Sections of Broadway Boulevard, 39th Street, and Wornall Road may become one lane in each direction.

Proponents call it, putting Midtown on a "road diet," slowing down and calming the flow of motorized traffic through neighborhoods and business districts.

Already, the Broadway Westport Council is lobbying against the change, saying Broadway Boulevard should be left alone. The group believes reduced traffic counts will hurt retailers.

But along Armour Boulevard, which lost a lane in each direction this year between Broadway and the Paseo, the advocacy group BikeWalkKC says the area has become more vibrant, with more people out and about.

"When you reduce the number of lanes and calm traffic in business districts, like what you see in the uptown area, in other cities, the data says those businesses along those traffic-calmed streets do better," said Eric Bunch, policy director for BikeWalkKC. "They get more people coming into their store, partly because it’s more walkable, more accessible by public transportation, more accessible by bike. More importantly it allows people to slow down a little bit when driving by, and they’re not driving through. And they can start to see the things around them."

Broadway currently has two driving lanes in each direction with a center turn lane and parking along the curb. Options being considered would reduce traffic to only one lane in each direction and possibly add dedicated bike lanes. Parking would not change.

Friday is the last day for citizens to offer their opinions in an online survey. You can go to this link to find it.

The Midtown Complete Streets committee will recommend what it thinks are the best options, but ultimately elected leaders would determine if any changes happen.

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