Year in Review – 2020

As we all know, 2020 was a bit of a tumultuous year but we’d like to focus on the positives by taking a look at some of our favorite projects we completed this year…

KCMO Open Streets

One of the first projects we worked on was in direct response to the pandemic from the city of Kansas City, MO. Recognizing the importance of fresh air and safe outdoor space to play, leisure, and exercise, the city adopted an “Open Streets” policy, which allowed neighborhoods to close local streets to thru traffic, in order to provide additional outdoor space while maintaining social distancing protocols.

Teaming up with Spin and Better Block, we helped implement the first handful of Open Streets and watched the neighborhoods come alive! These Open Streets allowed children and their families to play in front of their residences with out the fear of fast moving traffic. We witnessed young children learn how to ride their bikes, make new friends, and forget the sorrows of the pandemic. While the program did not last too long, it provided a unique opportunity to see in which ways our streets can be used and draw attention to the auto dominated environment they currently are.

Traffic Calming

Some of our favorite projects we completed this year were two different traffic calming installations. These projects reclaimed road space to create a safer road for all users by slowing traffic, shortening pedestrian crossings and bringing lively art to the streets!

Midtown Asphalt Art Project

The first project was deemed the Midtown Asphalt Art Project and funded by a $25,000 grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies. This grant was a part of their Asphalt Art Initiative to bring more art to communities. We decided to use the funding to blend traffic calming, street safety and asphalt art into one colorful project!

At Westport Road and Wyandotte Street in Westport KCMO, we radically altered the intersection by implementing a three way stop, reclaiming 4500 square feet of roadway space, and defining the curb extensions with street trees in planters, limestone boulders and bollards.

To select the artists for the project, we issued a Request For Proposals and formed a community advisory panel to select the winning artists. Four fabulous artists were chosen for the asphalt art and the runner up was chosen for a building mural adjacent to the intersection.

This project has been a major success. Slowing down the traffic by narrowing the travel lanes and installing new stop signs, shortening the pedestrian crossing distances in half and adding a unique vibrancy to the pavement has created what feels like an entirely new and improved intersection.

Ronald McDonald House Traffic Calming

The other traffic calming project we implemented this year was in Kansas City, MO on Cherry St. between 25th and 26th. This project added enhanced mid block crossings, complete with colorful bump outs and micromobility hub.

These crossings and bump outs allow pedestrians to more easily cross the street because they are highly visible in the enhanced crosswalks and the colorful bump outs shorten the crossing distance as well as slow traffic by narrowing the travel lanes. One of the main functions of this project was to allow visitors of the Ronald McDonald Houses to more easily and safely access the newly built Fred and Jami Pryor Serenity Garden, while the project certainly meets this objective is also does much more. This project creates a safer road for all users, whether it is families of the neighborhood, students at the UMKC Dental School or users of the nearby parks. This project brings a bit of unique and vibrant color to the pavement that helps enliven the whole feel of the block.

Bicycle Parking

Over the last few years we’ve helped municipalities, neighborhoods, developers, and businesses with their bike parking needs. This year we had the opportunity to work on a few different multifamily residential projects.

The Netherlands and Monarch Storage Buildings

In the summer, we helped Exact Architects provide their residents with long term bicycle storage, short term bicycle racks and a repair station that provides 24/7 bike repair equipment. Along Main Street we added 12 right of way bicycle racks that provides 24 public bicycle parking spaces. We also installed 28 parking spaces on the premises for residents including 10 indoor parking spaces.

Proxi Student Living

In Lawrence, KS at the new Proxi KU Student Housing building, we completed our largest bicycle parking install to date. This project included 110 bicycle parking spaces, a shade shelter, and a “bike oasis” equipped with a repair station, air pump and water fountain at the northern terminus of the Naismith Valley Park Trail.

Micromobility Hubs

In 2018 when shared E-scooters hit the streets of KCMO, we spent a lot of time advocating for on street micromobility parking hubs. In 2019 we built the first three hubs of what we hope to be a micromobility hub network. This year (2020) we added two new micromobility hubs to the streets of Kansas City, MO. Both were a part of traffic calming projects with one at 25th and Cherry and the other (shown above) at Westport and Wyandotte as a part of the Midtown Asphalt Art Project. These two hubs together provide on street parking for 14 bicycles and 40 E- scooters; all without removing a single automotive parking space!

Westport and Wyandotte Micromobility Hub

We also began to observe something interesting this year. In the past, the vehicles using the micromobility hubs have mostly been the providers who place the vehicles in the spaces each morning but this year we began to notice the users of the vehicles have started parking in these spaces at the end of their ride. We believe this increasing trend is occurring for two reasons. First, riders are starting to become familiar with these hubs and recognize they are intended for parking. Secondly, the E-scooter provider Bird has added these hubs to their app, so that riders can easily locate and identify these micromobility hubs.

25th and Cherry Micromobility Hub

Native Garden Renovation

In later summer of 2020, we had the opportunity to implement a garden renovation at the Freedom Mall in the West Bottoms neighborhood of KCMO. The Freedom Mall is a special place that honors a family who was enslaved in Kansas City in the 1800’s. The garden honors the family through steel sculptures representing each family member and sharing their stories and history.

Before & After Freedom Mall

The garden was completely overgrown with invasive species before we started. After an enormous amount of clean up, we were left with a fresh slate. Once weed guard was covered with river rock, we added over 200 native flower species to the garden. We planted a variety of native species that will provide three seasons of blooming flowers and yearlong wildlife food and habitat. Native gardens are a wonderful way to create beautiful, low maintenance gardens that also provide an enormous amount of benefits for nature and environment. They also are less expensive than traditional gardens.

We can hardly wait to see these native plantings come to life this spring! If you can’t wait until next spring to see blooming native flowers, check out some of our pictures from native flower beds we built in 2019. We have been absolutely blown away by the many bees and birds that surround these native plantings!

Looking forward to 2021

As 2020 comes to a close, we find ourselves very proud of the work we’ve completed but even more excited for the new year. We look forward to a few projects we have on deck including a district wide bicycle install with custom bicycle racks and a neighborhood traffic calming project that has been years in the making! We’ll continue to push for and implement projects that create safer, healthier communities by creating streets that are more walkable, bikable, equitable, and full of life!