After finishing up a summary on walkable communities and what the ideal vision of these places may look like, I’d like to name areas of Kansas City that I would consider walkable. These are communities with easy access to food and grocers, friendly pedestrian sidewalks and crosswalks and low crime. I’d also like to mention that although I’ve lived in Kansas City for over eight years, I haven’t been to every single neighborhood. Most of my coverage through personal and work experience covers some of urban Kansas City, the northland, Johnson County (lived for seven years) and Wyandotte County (lived for one year).
The winner of most walkable area (I would not have said this 8 years ago) is Downtown Kansas City. With the addition in the last ten years of Power and Light District with bars, restaurants, entertainment, relatively lower cost of living (for an urban downtown district, anyway) and a large grocery store (Cosentino’s) for residents. I’d also like to mention, accessibility to public transportation is about to skyrocket with the addition of the street cars slated to open next year. If you work downtown, you are lucky to have increasingly endless opportunities to have a full life. Disadvantages may be traffic, noise and an explosion of tourists during high seasons of the holidays, Big XII tournaments and any teenage cult musician who is stopping to perform at the Sprint Center.
Cross the state line and make your way to Leawood. The Leawood area around Town Center (119th and Nall) has developed into a one-stop shop for every family. The area includes a mall with an AMC theater, skating rink in the winter, trendy restaurants, a diverse Hen House grocery (has a large kosher deli and a large aisle of ethnic food) and is right by a large network of recreational trails (Indian Creek and Tomahawk Creek Trails). I lived a half mile from the center of this area for a long time and could fill my car with gas, get a car wash and groceries in about 15 minutes.
Back over to Missouri, one of the most desireable neighborhoods in Kansas City that is also walkable is Brookside. In the heart of Brookside, residents have some of the city’s best restaurants, coffee shops, two grocery stores, the Trolley Trail and abuts up to Loose Park, a favorite outdoor stop for exercisers and family fun.
As public transportation improves in Kansas City proper, I expect the Crown Center/Crossroads and River Market area to exceed its current walkability status. If you live in Gladstone, with enough research about city improvements and location of amenities, it’s pretty favorable for pedestrians. Other communities on the Kansas side that hold their own are downtown Mission (with the new Johnson Drive improvements), The Village and Corinth Square in Prairie Village and Fairway.
One major area of concern that is unique to Kansas City is the Zona Rosa area. Although the amenities are endless inside four square miles, traffic is very congested. I’ve sat at the major intersections in the area, noticing the awesome bike lanes and friendly crosswalk lights, but am frightened (even being in a car witnessing) by the behavior of motorists and their disregard for yielding to pedestrians, running through red lights and not stopping before taking a right on red. This is a major crossroad of the Northland, and has one of the best malls in the metro area, but vehicle congestion is a major no-no when it comes to walkability.
Continuing to push for these kinds of communities is important in uniting a large metropolitan area. It’s a major motivator to home buyers looking to relocate for convenience and a safe place to raise a family. Increasing your community’s awareness will yield a safer, more productive and happier place to live for you and your neighbors.