Making downtown more pedestrian friendly

Issues concerning Downtown as described by the Downtown Council. River to 31st Street, I-35 to Bruce R. Watkins.
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KCMax
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Making downtown more pedestrian friendly

Post by KCMax » Tue May 20, 2008 9:54 am

Making downtown a nice place to stroll will require costly improvements

“Downtown used to be a disaster,” said Phil Kirk, retired chairman of DST Realty. “More attention needs to be given to its beautification — lighting and the pedestrian dignity of all downtown. But you have the ingredients now.”

Beginning with extensive streetscape work around the new downtown public library, continuing to the Power & Light District, along 12th Street and newly enhanced bridges over Interstate 670 — momentum is gathering behind making the downtown experience pedestrian-friendly.

The city adopted a plan two years ago based on recommendations by Skidmore Owings & Merrill, a Chicago design firm. But at an average cost of $428,000 per block, it’s far from fully funded. Finding money in the budget and continuing to push for its full implementation is another important downtown challenge.


Suggestions or ideas on how to make downtown more pedestrian friendly?
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Re: Making downtown more pedestrian friendly

Post by cknab1 » Tue May 20, 2008 10:14 am

Maybe having drivers stop at intersections would be a good beginning.  I just love it when drivers have to stop in the crosswalk.  This happens a lot on 14th street when they are turning north on Grand.  They don’t quite get the concept of having a wide walkway for pedestrians.  For some reason, even with a red light the need to go as far as possible into the intersection is unavoidable.  Maybe at some point they will realize the P&L wants to have people walking about but It seems it will take a while.  Of course this happens at intersections all over town.  Just enforcing some basic driving rules would be nice. 
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Re: Making downtown more pedestrian friendly

Post by DaveKCMO » Tue May 20, 2008 11:10 am

- traffic calming on grand, oak, and broadway (bump-outs)
- synchronized traffic signals throughout the loop (makes traffic more predictable for peds)
- elimination of all push-button crossing signals (with at least a 30-second countdown before flashing orange... uptown charlotte has 40!)
- moving all catch basins out of crosswalks (you'd be surprised how common this is!)
- requiring all curb cuts to be on cross-streets vs. main thoroughfares
- reduction or shrinking sidewalk grates and requiring them to have ridges (prevent slip hazard)
- installing rumble strips or speed bumps at all garage entrances
- signage indicating pedestrian-friendly zone, that peds have the right of way in crosswalks, and no bikes on the sidewalks in CBD
- new street trees and maintenance of existing canopy
- adjust setback on blocks where new construction will occur (15-foot sidewalk with green barrier where it doesn't exist today, if the whole block is to be redone)

that ought to do it!

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Re: Making downtown more pedestrian friendly

Post by Midtownkid » Tue May 20, 2008 11:20 am

DaveKCMO wrote:
- moving all catch basins out of crosswalks (you'd be surprised how common this is!)

- reduction or shrinking sidewalk grates and requiring them to have ridges (prevent slip hazard)

that ought to do it!


You would be surprised how expensive and time consuming those 2 things may be.
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Re: Making downtown more pedestrian friendly

Post by KCPowercat » Tue May 20, 2008 11:23 am

ped-level wayfinding signage.  I have heard this project has pretty much died though.  our current signs don't even point out p&l or spring center.

I like dave's ideas.
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Re: Making downtown more pedestrian friendly

Post by midtown guy » Tue May 20, 2008 11:45 am

Maybe adding this technology at some more of the problem intersections would help the driving into crosswalk space:

http://www.springwise.com/transportatio ... _are_traf/

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Re: Making downtown more pedestrian friendly

Post by staubio » Tue May 20, 2008 12:09 pm

Now that we've so drastically improved crossings over 670, the same consideration needs to be given to 70. These long lonely bridges are a depressing barrier between the River Market and the loop. The fences are rusty and there are sections that are caving in or falling off.

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Re: Making downtown more pedestrian friendly

Post by Gretz » Wed May 21, 2008 3:59 pm

Dave's ideas are all great, but by far the thing that gets my goat the most and would be the easiest to fix is the cross walk signalling problems.  The GD button pushing thing really chaps my ass.  I walk about everywhere I go except on the two days a week I reverse commute and the button pushing thing is extremely irritating.  I usually don't mess with them, and just go by true green on the traffic signals, but to technically be in accordance with the law, I would have to wait for at least one light change at every intersection walking down broadway.  Even if you push the button when it is green, it doesn't give you a walk signal until the whole next cycle.  At a bare minimum, there should be a default walk cycle on every true green.  I am aware of the problem and have utter contempt for don't walk signs, but seeing suburbanites and out of towners stand at a cross walk through a whole signal and then push the button and continue waiting is a common occurence, especially in and around the P&L district.  It's an embarrassement to me as a Kansas Citian to see this happen.  It is a constant reminder how little consideration our government and society at large has for pedestrians and how pervasively addicted to automotive transport we are.  I could give two shits about grates and storm sewer arrangement, but this is something that should and easily can be fixed with no great cost; just a little labor investment.  My second peeve is insensitive or dangerous driver behaviour, but that is a much more difficult problem to solve.  I do my part, though, by glaring, throwing up my arms in a "WTF?" jesture and judiciously flying the bird even when appropriate to educate transgressors of ped law/courtesy.

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Re: Making downtown more pedestrian friendly

Post by DaveKCMO » Wed May 21, 2008 10:17 pm

no more buttons!

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Re: Making downtown more pedestrian friendly

Post by KCPowercat » Wed May 21, 2008 10:21 pm

I don't have a problem pushing a button on busy streets like Broadway...blame the green light initiative to get traffic moving.... but most of downtown should have automatic walk signals.

Heck I'd be happy with pedestrian signals on each side of the street...I could list of 5 different intersections with stop lights I have to turn around to see if I can walk or not. 
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Re: Making downtown more pedestrian friendly

Post by lock+load » Thu May 22, 2008 12:09 pm

I'd like to see sidewalks given priority when construction is taking place.  If the sidewalk must be closed, an alternative walkway should be placed in the street and separated from traffic (sort of like on Main at 13th now, minus the crossing the street part).  "Sidewalk closed" signs should be very rare.

Also, the sidewalks along the entrances to the Transamerica garage should be modified to accomodate pedestrians rather than cars.  I have no idea how someone in a wheelchair would navigate the Baltimore side sidewalk without doing into the street or rolling right down into the garage.  Terrible design.

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Re: Making downtown more pedestrian friendly

Post by scooterj » Thu May 22, 2008 3:56 pm

lock+load wrote:I'd like to see sidewalks given priority when construction is taking place.  If the sidewalk must be closed, an alternative walkway should be placed in the street and separated from traffic (sort of like on Main at 13th now, minus the crossing the street part).  "Sidewalk closed" signs should be very rare.

Also, the sidewalks along the entrances to the Transamerica garage should be modified to accomodate pedestrians rather than cars.  I have no idea how someone in a wheelchair would navigate the Baltimore side sidewalk without doing into the street or rolling right down into the garage.  Terrible design.


Totally.  There's far too many streets right now where you cannot walk from one end of downtown to the other without having to cross to the other side at least once.

I've found out that city ordinance allows you to walk in the street of a sidewalk is not available on the side of the street you are walking on.  So that's what I do now.

By the way you must mean the One Kansas City Place garage and yeah, that is terrible for the pedestrian.  Another bad spot is 2 blocks north on Baltimore, right hand side, at the garage entrance just north of 11th.
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Re: Making downtown more pedestrian friendly

Post by lock+load » Thu May 22, 2008 4:37 pm

scooterj wrote:By the way you must mean the One Kansas City Place garage and yeah, that is terrible for the pedestrian.   Another bad spot is 2 blocks north on Baltimore, right hand side, at the garage entrance just north of 11th.


No, it's the garage between Main & Baltimore, 10th & 11th.  The sidewalk slopes downward into the garage and has concrete dividers in the sidewalk to separate the garage entry lanes. 

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Re: Making downtown more pedestrian friendly

Post by DaveKCMO » Thu May 22, 2008 5:04 pm

lock+load wrote:No, it's the garage between Main & Baltimore, 10th & 11th.  The sidewalk slopes downward into the garage and has concrete dividers in the sidewalk to separate the garage entry lanes. 


oh yes, i know this bastard of a garage entry. the designer gets a boot to the head!

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Re: Making downtown more pedestrian friendly

Post by KCMax » Thu Dec 18, 2008 10:23 am

Watchdog: Crosswalk complaint

Sheryl Krostue of Kansas City wants to know why all crosswalks at intersections do not have pedestrian-controlled stoplights.

Krostue said she and her husband for years have taken daily walks to Loose Park using a crosswalk at 55th and Summit streets. “In the eight years that we have been taking this route, only once has a car stopped to let us cross, and they almost got rear-ended by another car,” Krostue said.

When she lived in Edinburgh, Scotland, Krostue said, all crosswalks had 30-second stoplights on both sides of the street.

“We feel this would be a great way to make Kansas City a better city for those who travel by foot,” she said.

The answer

Good luck with that, Sheryl.

Dennis Gagnon, Kansas City Public Works spokesman, agrees that the lights would be good for the city, but it would cost an enormous amount to install them, and with a budget shortfall looming, there are infrastructure needs that have higher priority.

Gagnon also said it was unfortunate but true that drivers in the Midwest are so disrespectful of pedestrians and bicyclists. It’s time that drivers learned to be better neighbors, he said.


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Re: Making downtown more pedestrian friendly

Post by Angel » Thu Dec 18, 2008 10:51 am

Sheryl must not have realized yet that most people in this town adopt the "Plaza Rules" as far as pedestrian right of way.  I can't tell you how many people I've almost hit because they walked right in front of my car while driving downtown.  And they look at me like I'm an ass for almost hitting them. :roll:

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Re: Making downtown more pedestrian friendly

Post by chrizow » Thu Dec 18, 2008 10:56 am

i am all for pedestrian-friendly infrastructure, but i don't think a 30-second pedestrian signal is warranted at 55th and summit. 

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Re: Making downtown more pedestrian friendly

Post by DaveKCMO » Thu Dec 18, 2008 11:20 am

chrizow wrote:i am all for pedestrian-friendly infrastructure, but i don't think a 30-second pedestrian signal is warranted at 55th and summit.


it's a park and there are no traffic-calming devices on that stretch of 55th street (even though i'm sure the posted speed limit is 20 or 25 mph). regardless, i'm surprised they didn't mention PIAC as an option.

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Re: Making downtown more pedestrian friendly

Post by drumatix » Thu Dec 18, 2008 11:38 am

Angel wrote:Sheryl must not have realized yet that most people in this town adopt the "Plaza Rules" as far as pedestrian right of way.  I can't tell you how many people I've almost hit because they walked right in front of my car while driving downtown.  And they look at me like I'm an ass for almost hitting them. :roll:


A relative of mine was hit while jaywalking in midtown, and his body did some damage to the car that hit him, including smashing in the entire windshield. As he was being hauled off to the hospital, the responding officer let him know that the woman who hit him was being nice by not making him pay for the damage that his illegal act caused to her car. So go ahead and hit those jaywalkers... accidentally of course.

In bigger cities there often (not always) seems to be more of a cooperative relationship between cars & pedestrians than there is here. Each knows exactly what they can get away with, and what's expected of them. In KC the relationship is an extremely confused one to say the least. More pedestrians would certainly help even it out over time.

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Re: Making downtown more pedestrian friendly

Post by mean » Thu Dec 18, 2008 12:00 pm

If it hurts someone's ego that their rolling ton of metal and plastic doesn't automatically get to go wherever it wants whenever it wants because there are occasionally squishy fleshbags in its way, sometimes even delaying the driver by perhaps a whole minute or two, then it may be time for that person to take a deep breath and realize that they are an asshole.
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