Earlier this spring, Two Rivers Department of Public Health put together an “Active Living Summit” to gather community input on improving active lifestyles in Kearney. After two communitymeetings, a few areas for action emerged. One was the need for complete streets policies here in our community.Earlier this spring, Two Rivers Department of Public Health put together an “Active Living Summit” to gather community input on improving active lifestyles in Kearney. After two community meetings, a few areas for action emerged. One was the need for complete streets policies here in our community.
The term ‘complete streets’ refers to streets that are safe for all who use them—pedestrians, cyclists, drivers and even public transportation in larger cities. A complete street can look different from city to city, neighborhood to neighborhood and even block to block. It is all dependent on the needs of the community.
Be Well Buffalo County, a workgroup of Buffalo County Community Partners, has been discussing strategies for improving the walkability of our community. The collaborative aims to make biking and walking to work or school a more feasible option for Buffalo County residents.
To address the needs of both groups, Be Well partnered with Two Rivers to create a Complete Streets Committee. This new committee aims to eventually work with city officials on creating a policy for complete streets here in our community. In order to do that, however, they needed to start at the community level. The committee is currently working to gather community support and feedback for the idea of complete streets in Kearney.
The first step the Complete Streets Committee has taken is to organize three “walk audits,” or community walks aimed at raising awareness and gathering feedback for the use of streets and sidewalks in a particular area. Three particular areas are of first concern to the group:
The University Route: This is a walk near UNK including residential streets, Highway 30 and the bike trail. Depending on registration, this walk will take place on either September 27th or September 28th to help accommodate for student class schedules.
The Southeast Residential Route: This is a walk near Bryant Elementary School including parts of downtown and 2nd Avenue. This walk will take place on October 6th in the early afternoon.
The Hotel District Route: This is a walk in the south central part of town with a focus on the connectivity between hotels and restaurants, as well as the integration of the bike trail. This walk will take place on October 13th in the late afternoon.
Each walk will be approximately 1 – 1.5 hours long, and will be followed up by short discussion and de-brief with the group. People of all levels of physical ability are welcome to join each walk. The Complete Streets Committee will take feedback from these group walks and host a community-wide training on the concept of ‘complete streets’ and what that might mean for Buffalo County. If you’d like to attend a walk audit, or if you’d like more information on complete streets, the work of Be Well, or this new committee, get in touch with Becky Squiers at Wellness@bcchp.org.