Kansas City: Pedestrian Criteria

When creating its 2003 Walkability Plan, the Kansas City Planning and Development Department modeled its pedestrian-system evaluation criteria on the concept of automobile level of service or LOS. Level of service is a measurement of delay ranging from A to F. Kansas City created pedestrian level-of-service criteria that measured directness, continuity, street crossings, visual interest and amenities, and security.

While evaluation techniques varied by the level of analysis (citywide, neighborhood, district) and from methods used for project- or site- specific developments, all the evaluations considered these five basic pedestrian levels of service criteria. The city then adjusted the minimum standard for each criteria according to the specific pedestrian needs of each area, based on input from City of Kansas City Departments of Planning and Development and Public Works, public opinion, and professional practice. Citywide evaluations used crime data to determine safety levels and geographic-information-system (GIS) maps to evaluate the directness and continuity of the municipal sidewalk network. Neighborhood and district evaluations relied on community surveys and walking audits to measure existing conditions and needs for the five pedestrian LOS criteria.

Pedestrian LOS criteria for project- and site-specific developments are measured with ratios and checklists clarified by the project boundaries. For instance, directness is based on a ratio of the actual distance from trip origin to trip destination divided by the minimum distance between those two points for locations and routes within the project area. Kansas City’s Walkability Plan then recommended that traffic-impact studies, required for significant proposed developments, be modified to include a pedestrian-impact assessment using the city’s pedestrian LOS criteria. Incorporating a pedestrian traffic-impact analysis into traffic- impact studies would promote consideration of pedestrian mobility in design plans and pedestrian-impact mitigations in proposals. It would also provide the city with the legal authority to require pedestian improvements to serve the development.

This material is the product of a partnership between America Walks and Sam Schwartz Engineering. Visit here for more information on the partnership.