Overland Park considered one of the worst cities in America to live without a car


Overland Park is proud of its recognitions.

From “Best Cities to Rent” (WalletHub) to “Best Cities to be a Millennial” (Zippia), hardly a month goes by without an announcement that the city has ranked among the top in terms of measurement. quality of life. In fact, there is a full page on the city’s website devoted to this, and the list goes on.

But a ranking did not make the page. Earlier this year, Overland Park ranked among the ten worst cities to live without a car – 144th out of 150.

The ranking appears on Lawn starter, a lawn care advice and services website that also ranks on a variety of topics. (To be fair, Overland Park was rated highly by LawnStarter in a number of other categories.)

But this latest ranking compared the 150 most populous cities in the United States to gauge how well-equipped they were to meet the needs of people who don’t have access to cars.

The website says it took into account 20 different metrics, including average travel time, pedestrian safety and the number of people who use public transport, walk or cycle. The study even takes local weather conditions into account.

Overland Park arrived just below Chattanooga, Tennessee, Augusta Ga., Memphis, Tennessee and Birmingham, Ala.

Other Midwestern cities that did better than Overland Park were St. Louis at 99th, Des Moines at 121st, Wichita at 124th, and the Kansas City Metro at 135th.

Top of the list? Perhaps no surprise: large cities with extensive transit systems, including San Francisco, Portland, Oregon, and Washington, DC

“What we have is totally insufficient”

Overland Park’s relatively low ranking in this category does not shock Councilman Logan Heley, who has made green initiatives one of his top priorities in power.

“I don’t think it would be surprising to anyone who lives in the Kansas City metro area if our whole area isn’t very accommodating to people who don’t have a car. As a region we are very car dependent, ”he said.

By the mid-20th century, the area had a vibrant public transportation system, Heley said, including Johnson County. But once the streetcar infrastructure was abandoned, land use patterns changed to favor car ownership.

“We haven’t really given people across our region the option of owning a car or not,” he said.

LawnStarter describes itself as a site that connects lawn services with people who need them, but it also does a lot of rankings. Overland Park note on his recognition page LawnStarter’s high rankings for things like “Best Cities for Electric Car Ownership,” “Best Cities for Single Dads” and “Better Water Quality” to name a few.

But car ownership – or lack of it – has recently gained more attention, with some car dealers reporting shortages.

According to US census figures, Car owner has experienced a downward trend over the past decade. About 8.7% of Americans did not have access to a vehicle in 2019, the data showed.

Heley noted that for those who own cars, the cost is high. AAA encrypts the cost of possession a new car at $ 9,500 per year in 2020.

“Just imagine if the people in our area didn’t feel the need to own a car then what they would invest that money in,” Heley said.

He added that officials working on the city’s global plan are starting to explore how the city can solve some of the problems and that local leaders need to make a “realistic investment” in public transport.

“What we have now is totally insufficient for what our community really needs,” he said.

The LawnStarter investigation ranked Overland Park at the bottom of the scale in a sub-category related to public transit. City tied for five for 143rd mainly residents who use public transit to get to work.

Low number of pedestrians killed

There was, however, a bright spot in the LawnStarter investigation.

Despite its relatively low rankings in other areas, Overland Park finished in a tie at four for the least pedestrian fatalities per capita.

City spokeswoman Meg Ralph highlighted the city’s high safety rating in her response to the LawnStarter article and noted that Overland Park is working to improve its accessibility for non -conductors on several fronts.

Options are being explored to make the College Boulevard corridor more pedestrian friendly, construction of a trail on 91st Street connecting Meadowbrook Park, bike paths and multi-use paths from 159e South Street and E-Bike Pilot Program on City Trails.

City council members are also considering a pilot program for motorized scooters, she said.

The city is also continuing work on its cycle master plan of cycle lanes and road markings, she said.

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