Kansas City, MO
Using data to understand the relationship of traffic-related injuries to the built environment and infrastructure in historically marginalized neighborhoods and develop recommendations for prioritizing infrastructure investments.
For more than 80 years, local leaders in Kansas City, Missouri, made purposeful policy decisions to shift resources, development, and investments away from communities of color. This historical disinvestment has created disparities in individual and community health and public safety. In Kansas City, there is a demonstrated relationship between traffic infrastructure, demographic characteristics, and rates of serious injury or death from traffic violence. Since 2010, BikeWalkKC has led community engagement, advocacy, and public policy reforms that center the voices and lived experiences of the region’s residents who are most vulnerable to traffic violence.
This project sought to understand (1) the relationship of traffic-related injuries and deaths to the built environment and infrastructure in historically marginalized neighborhoods, (2) whether infrastructure investments are equitably distributed, and (3) how existing conditions reflect the outcomes of previous policy decisions. BikeWalkKC collected data on infrastructure conditions, traffic crashes, injuries and mortalities, neighborhood demographics, and social determinants of health to understand the intersection between infrastructure investments, road safety, and equity in the city. It combined this data with the US Department of Transportation’s transportation disadvantaged indicators to create a composite indicator and develop a points-based equity score that aligns with federal and local policy objectives.
BikeWalkKC used this new equity score framework to build out a community safety dashboard and publish a citywide traffic-injury risk profile. BikeWalkKC has begun to use these data and resources to further inform the local government’s investments in pedestrian safety, highlighting the need for more equitable investments in areas with higher levels of traffic violence. Community presentations and meetings with elected officials are ongoing.
Based on its findings, BikeWalkKC identified two priority neighborhoods, Brush Creek and Historic Northeast, with high levels of transportation inequity and dangerous traffic conditions. Staff then conducted in-person walk audits in these areas, during which they engaged community members, allowing them and the research team to better understand how dangerous traffic infrastructure conditions impact Kansas City communities. BikeWalkKC has plans for future walk audits in other similar neighborhoods with dangerous traffic conditions.