Pedestrian death outside Arrowhead Stadium was tragedy bound to happen, group says

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City police are asking for help tracking down two drivers who ran over and killed a Chiefs fan leaving the stadium area Sunday night.

The victim has been identified as 66-year-old Steven Hickle of Wichita.

There are also questions about how safe areas around the stadium are for pedestrians trying to cross Blue Ridge Cutoff.

Brent Hugh, executive director of the Missouri Bicycle and Pedestrian Federation, wasn’t surprised by the pedestrian death.

“We have been aware of this situation for decades,” Hugh said.

Hugh posted an article to the group’s webpage from Royals Review in 2016 referring to “awful pedestrian access” to the stadiums calling it “a tragedy waiting to happen.”

“This is a long stretch of road where you have traffic generators on both sides of the road, and there really is not a safe or marked place to cross for about a mile,” Hugh said.

Those foot traffic generators include hotels, restaurants, gas stations and other businesses all with parking for games. All are located across up to eight lanes of traffic from the stadiums.

There’s multiple gates on Blue Ridge for the stadium complex, but no sidewalks or crosswalks at Gate 2 where Sunday night’s fatal hit and run occurred or any of the gates south of it. Hugh said on gamedays the stretch of road may be one of the busiest pedestrian areas anywhere in Missouri.

“It is a pedestrian heavy area, and we haven’t designed it for pedestrians to use safely,” he said.

On Monday, while offering condolences to the victim and asking for assistance in the investigation, Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas tweeted for drivers to look out for pedestrians. Jackson County Executive Frank White also reminded drivers to be responsible and alert behind the wheel.

“We already know to be careful. The city doesn’t need to tell us that. The police are outstanding. They are doing their jobs. What we need is some yellow paint across Blue Ridge,” motorist Dale Ward said.

The Missouri Bike and Pedestrian Federation recommends new pedestrian crosswalks be equipped with warning signals for drivers. Hugh also recommends reducing the number of lanes until police are at the gates, both slowing down passing traffic and shortening the length of crossing for pedestrians.

“Hopefully this incident, as tragic as it is, will spur that conversation between the city, county, MoDOT and the citizens to make things better and safer for everybody,” Hugh said.

Indications from the city are safety improvements could be considered.

“KCMO is saddened by another tragic loss of life on our city streets. Our commitment to Vision Zero is a pledge to not tolerate any vehicular or pedestrian related deaths on our streets. We are making progress in these efforts, but there is still much more to do,” said Jason Waldron, transportation director for the Kansas City Public Works Department.

“We take this work seriously and continue to prioritize making our streets safer for all users. This location will be included in the Vision Zero program for future evaluation.”

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