In 2000, we were founded in Columbia, Missouri as PedNet Coalition (“pedestrian and pedaling network”). Our founders had a vision of building a safe and attractive network of trails and sidewalks for walking, biking, and using wheelchairs. They developed a map of where they imagined this physical “PedNet” could take you.
Over the years, PedNet’s advocacy influence grew and eventually PedNet was able to get the PedNet map accepted by Columbia City Council as the basis of the Parks & Recreation Trails Master Plan. From this plan, the City of Columbia would continue building out the trail network. To a large extent, this successful advocacy campaign completed PedNet’s mission as it was originally envisioned.
In 2013, PedNet’s leadership changed and we updated our logo to more modern artwork and incorporated street design elements in the logo design.
We still loved trails and trails were a big part of our advocacy, but we started to also turn our attention to the street network. We saw the potential for well-designed streets to be safe for everyone, and to serve people’s transportation needs more efficiently with sidewalks, crosswalks, lighting, protected bike lanes, and reliable public transit service.
In this new phase of PedNet, the “why” behind our advocacy began to change. We began to understand that decades of policy decisions steeped in systemic oppression designed a transportation system that systematically places people in target social identity groups (e.g., Black residents, low-income families, children, older adults, and people with disabilities) at high risk of harm. Systemic barriers in the transportation system limit people’s access to basic needs (e.g., food, healthcare, jobs) and their participation in democracy, and place them at high risk of death and serious injury from traffic crashes. We shifted to make transportation equity the foundation of our advocacy approach and one of four priority areas identified in our 2020-2022 Strategic Plan.
Our advocacy strategies also changed. PedNet had long been influential with grasstops leaders (i.e., Columbia City Council, City staff, legislators), but we recognized that we were weak in partnering directly with people who are negatively impacted by the auto-centric transportation system, including people of color and low-income families.
In 2019, we launched a grassroots organizing strategy with neighborhood leaders in the Vision Zero priority neighborhoods (i.e., neighborhoods with high rates of people of color, low-income families, and households without vehicles). We now have a Neighborhood Leadership Council made up of ten members who live and work in these neighborhoods. These leaders are helping us develop a new best practice anti-racist community engagement process to mobilize traditionally underrepresented voices in transportation planning.
We’ve grown a lot as an organization over the 21 years since we were founded. While our love of walking and biking has remained the same, we’ve expanded our focus to include the street network and transit, in addition to trails and sidewalks.
After many years of consideration, research, and discussion with our board of directors, we made the decision to rebrand to better reflect our current advocacy focus and strategy.
Our vision is towns built for people, where it’s easy to walk, bike, and ride transit, and everyone can get where they want to go.
Our mission is to provide walking, biking, and transit solutions to meet people’s everyday transportation needs.