We have so many reasons to be grateful we live in Lee’s Summit! One reason is the ever-increasing ease with which we can utilize our streets and trail system for walking, riding bicycles or taking public transit. Since the City Council adopted the “Livable Streets Policy” in 2010, Lee’s Summit has made steady improvements in making our streets, sidewalks and trails safer and more accessible for everyone to use.
At the May 1 City Council meeting, Mayor Randy Rhoads proclaimed May as “Bike and Walk Month” in our city. This proclamation sends a strong message of encouragement for all citizens to improve their health and quality of life by choosing a more active lifestyle.
Lee’s Summit received national recognition as a “Walk Friendly Community” in 2011 and as a “Bicycle Friendly Community” in 2012. These entry level, or “Bronze,” designations certainly represent significant achievements, but they are only milestones in a long-term process of improving our city. Important work in these areas continues today and remains to be done well into the future.
There is ample evidence of recent “livable streets” work around town:
New shoulder extensions have made it safer to cross the O’Brien Road bridge over U.S. 50, whether traveling by car, on foot, or by bicycle.
Extensive sidewalk and curb replacements have improved safety all over town for pedestrians and people with disabilities.
A “road diet” has provided wider curb lanes and a center turn lane on segments of Jefferson Street and Independence Avenue, improving safety for bicyclists and motorists alike. (Similar improvements are planned for Second Street from Independence Avenue to Jefferson Street).
The Park and Ride bus stop near U.S. 50 and I-70 has been completely updated, making multi-modal commuting more pleasant and convenient.
Future enhancements will include:
Adding much-needed sidewalks to Orchard Street and paved shoulders to Prior Road south of Longview Road and to Hook Road east of Ward (construction this year).
Adding a paved multi-use trail for pedestrians and bicyclists on a new Hwy 291-South bridge crossing over U.S. 50.
Adding paved shoulders as well as an off-road paved multi-use trail in the rebuilding of Lee’s Summit Road.
The Livable Streets Advisory Board is also working with the Lee’s Summit Police Department to review traffic ordinances that pertain to bicycle use on our city streets. A public safety education campaign is anticipated to follow, with a goal of keeping everyone safe as we all share the road.
The city has developed a Bicycle Transportation Plan, which maps out current and future bicycle accommodations. If you are looking for preferred (green or blue) route options to ride your bike from one part of town to another, you’ll want to check this out.
Lee’s Summit’s Parks and Recreation department is also involved in bicycle safety, particularly by educating children at summer camp and during bike rodeos.
All of these livable streets efforts improve safety and make it easier for everyone to pursue a healthy active lifestyle. Please visit www.livablestreetsls.com for more info and for links to other great resources.
So, Lee’s Summit, get out and bike and walk during the rest of May … and beyond.
Be active, healthy and safe.
Ed Kraemer is a family physician at Truman Medical Center-Lakewood and an assistant professor in the UMKC School of Medicine. He also serves as co-chair of the Health Education Advisory Board and as a member and former chair of the Livable Streets Advisory Board for the City of Lees Summit.