One solution to Kansas City's "Troost Problem" proposed

Since a series of collisions involving pedestrians, some very serious, since UMKC student Chen Pei was killed crossing the street in a school-zone crosswalk, and since Kansas City lost a negligence lawsuit in Pei's death, much discussion has been going on about how to solve the "Troost Problem" in the area near UMKC and Rockhurst University. Missouri Bicycle Federation President Brent Hugh suggested one solution in a letter to the editor of UMKC's UNews last year [registration required]:

It is becoming more and more clear that the entire area between Twin Oaks (UMKC Dorms) and Rockhurst University, including the UMKC campus, Oak St. and Troost Ave., needs to be re-thought and re-configured as a campus-like pedestrian-friendly zone with 20-mph speed limits and, eventually, redesigned pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly major streets.

An area where, essentially, the pedestrian is king and automobiles are invited guests. This sounds like a wild-haired revolutionary idea until you realize that just a few blocks away there is just such an area, one that has been working successfully for decades: The Plaza.

Not only would this plan increase safety and make the UMKC and Rockhurst campuses more pleasant, attractive and livable, it would also lead to an economic resurgence in the area of campus.

Studies show that the number one factor keeping shoppers away from commercial areas is fast, intimidating traffic. Traffic ranks even above crime as a discouraging factor for shoppers.

Near the UMKC campus, neither Troost nor Oak is a thriving commercial center right now. They should be! Thousands of students (and other nearby residents) would shop, eat, socialize and spend money at businesses in the UMKC-Rockhurst area-if they dared walk there.

Making the entire area pedestrian-friendly would benefit the two university campuses, area businesses and the city as a whole.