The National Complete Streets Coalition completed work with Missouri-based partners for the third Complete Streets Consortium Series, with support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Active People, Healthy Nation (SM) Initiative. The City of Kirkwood, City of Joplin, and Eastern Jackson County in Missouri have been participating in virtual workshop series—pivoted from in-person due to the COVID-19 crisis—over 18 months to develop safer, more equitable streets.
Learning about challenges and creating innovations in real time is what the Complete Streets Consortium Series is all about. As a learning collaborative, the series provides national guidance on issues and advice on local challenges that can bring communities safer, more equitable streets through a technical assistance program.
With series already completed in both Tennessee and Colorado, the National Complete Streets Coalition is excited to announce the completion of the third series in Missouri with support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and in partnership with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, the Missouri Council for Activity and Nutrition through the University of Missouri Extension, Missourians for Responsible Transportation, BikeWalkKC and Mid-America Regional Council.
This technical assistance is tailored to the communities’ specific needs for implementing Complete Streets and activity-friendly routes to everyday destinations with expert instructors from Equitable Cities and Stantec brought in. Three communities from across the state of Missouri share some common challenges and opportunities and were selected to participate: Eastern Jackson County, Kirkwood, and Joplin.
“The cross-sector collaboration from leaders across the state of Missouri was integral to the success of this program and the work in the communities” said Emily Schweninger, Director of Thriving Communities at Smart Growth America. “It was so important to frame the conversations around the real challenges communities are facing when trying to create more complete streets in their communities. We literally saw issues that seemed like insurmountable barriers being resolved in real time during these sessions by talking across sectors and connecting folks with the information and know-how they need to get things done.”
Over the past 18 months, these communities participated in a series of three workshops designed to identify and overcome barriers to implement activity-friendly routes to everyday destinations, which make it safe and convenient for people of all abilities to walk, run, bike, skate, or use wheelchairs to reach homes, jobs, shops, schools, and more.
Pivoting in line with the COVID-19 pandemic, as so many of us had to do, the in-person consortium series was held online virtually. Despite being virtual, the instructors were still able to work closely with the three communities to look at on-the-ground examples, using case studies to apply the strategies being learned and discussed, finding real-time solutions to implementing Complete Streets. Interactive tools made the virtual sessions engaging and productive, allowing participants to redesign the streets to make them safer and more accessible to all types of users, especially for folks walking, biking, rollings, and using assistive devices.