Mark Taylor
Johnson County Commissioners adopted a “complete street” policy on Sept. 1 that proposes rural road construction to accommodate not only cars, but walkers, joggers and cyclists as well.
Samara Klein, director of advocacy for KC Healthy Kids, told commissioners that complete streets encourage healthy activity, such as walking and biking.
She said complete streets are also good for homes, businesses and general safety.
“Complete streets are also known as livable streets because they promote health,” Klein said.
KC Healthy Kids is a non-profit organization whose mission is to reduce childhood obesity.
Johnson County joins Leawood, Wyandotte County, Kansas City, Mo., Independence and Lee’s Summit in implementing a safe streets program.
The goal of the program is to provide transportation options for all users, improve road safety, promote physical activity and healthy lifestyles and create more “environmentally sustainable” communities.
Dean Palos, county planning director, said future rural streets will be designed and built on a case-by-case basis.
Design options may include bike lanes, sidewalks or streets with wider shoulders to accommodate cyclists, similar to 175th and 199th streets.
“There is a growing recognition that streets designed solely for motor vehicles may be a contributing factor to some of the public health issues that are now occurring throughout the United States,” Palos said in a news release issued by the county.  “Single purpose streets limit the opportunity for children and adults to get regular physical activity during their daily routines.
“In contrast, complete streets are designed to be safer, more convenient and comfortable not only for drivers, but for pedestrians, bicyclists, children, and people with disabilities.”