KCMO launches “Open Streets” initiative to transform neighborhood streets into parks

Posted at 5:55 AM, May 29, 2020

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — People living in Kansas City, Missouri, are turning their residential streets into neighborhood parks.

The city is now allowing residents to temporarily close streets during the stay-at-home orders through an initiative called “Open Streets.”

This concept is all about opening the streets to bicyclists, walkers and children in order to give them another option to get fresh air and be socially distant during the stay-at-home orders, since playgrounds are closed and people are working from home.

Ryan Mott applied for a permit to close his block in midtown to through traffic.

He said within the first few weeks, five children on the block learned how to ride their bicycles without training wheels because they didn’t have to worry about sharing the road with speeding cars.

“We’re on a really straight north-south road here on Wyandotte Street and cars tend to pick up some speed. Even with stop signs on both ends, people fly through here,” Mott explained. “This has really slowed down the cars and made it quieter. You can enjoy your front yard better without cars zooming by."

Groups like BikeWalkKC and Better Block KC want some of the advantages Mott described to become permanent.

They’re watching how the temporary closures go with the goal of helping the city incorporate some of the concepts into future road designs to make streets safer for everyone.

“It’s getting people to think more about if we can do this temporarily, what are the other things we can do to create additional space for people after the pandemic is over,” explained Michael Kelley, the policy manager at BikeWalkKC.

Mott would love to make the temporary closure permanent. People living on the street and delivery drivers can still drive past the barricades.

“Several neighbors have said for a while we’ve tried to get speed bumps, but this is even better. So if we can make this permanent, I think our whole block is definitely on board,” Mott emphasized.

For information on how to apply for a permit, click here.