In many areas of Columbia, the streets weren’t designed for the people who live closest to them. Instead, the streets prioritize whisking cars across town and through neighborhoods as quickly as possible.
By building more livable streets and prioritizing improvements to areas of historic underinvestment, livable places become accessible and affordable to everyone — not just to people in positions of privilege.
In 2004, PedNet (now Local Motion) led Columbia to be one of the first cities in the U.S. to adopt a Complete Streets policy. But the policy hasn’t been updated and is now wildly outdated.
Our current “Complete Streets'' creates streets designed to pay lip service to people who walk, bike, and take public transit. Streets were and still are designed for cars, with minimal infrastructure for other street users.
We chose the word livable streets because we wanted to throw out the status quo and instead create a vision of thriving neighborhoods, and thriving businesses — streets where happy people can feel safe getting where they need to go without a car.
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Equitable livable streets mean updating & improving street designs in neighborhoods with high pedestrian deaths and serious injury, low car ownership, communities of color, and low-income communities first.
Columbia’s current transportation system was designed to serve the powerful—largely white, wealthy, temporarily able-bodied, middle-aged adults—at the expense of other groups, such as Black people, low-income families, children, older adults, and people with disabilities. The traffic fatality rate for Black people in Boone County is more than 2x that of white people. We all know examples of streets in Columbia that have been, time and again, put farther down the list of improvements for larger projects that cost more and don’t improve the accessibility or safety of our streets.
Our current streets need attention. We want the City to prioritize maintaining and updating our current streets - making them safer for people walking, biking, and taking the bus — before building new ones.
When Columbia passed its Complete Streets policy in 2004, it was one of the first U.S. cities to adopt this kind of revolutionary policy. But now it is wildly outdated, for Missouri and the country. Towns in Missouri, even those much smaller than Columbia, are surpassing us with more livable street design standards.
We're not asking the city to spend more money on street projects to make them safe and convenient for people walking, biking, and riding transit. We're asking the city to spend money differently.
Financing street projects for people driving cars can get expensive, to say the least. Adding even one lane to a street can cost millions of dollars, while projects to encourage walking, biking, and transit are often much less. And often we don’t count costs related to motor vehicle crashes — the lives of people involved, first responders, police, medical bills, etc.