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Public Health and Safety

Foster healthy communities and individuals by providing safe and secure places to live, walk, bike, roll, ride the bus and drive with clean air to breathe

Our transportation system impacts public health and safety in the following key areas:

  • Roadway safety for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers
  • Opportunities for physical activity through walking and biking
  • Reduction of pollutants emitted by cars and trucks that impact human health
  • Security when responding to natural and man-made hazards

Roadway safety

While there has been a steady decrease over time in serious injuries from traffic crashes, from 2014 to 2018 the MARC region experienced a 45% increase in deaths from traffic crashes. The Kansas City Regional Transportation Safety Blueprint, a product of Destination Safe, addresses the top crash factors and outlines regional efforts to improve education, engineering, enforcement and emergency services

Supporting programs

These programs or initiatives can help us achieve our goals by directly advancing various plan strategies.

Performance measures

The interactive map below demonstrates fatal crash density across the Kansas City metro from 2014 to 2019. Zoom in to see individual crash locations: red dots symbolize fatalities, and orange are serious injuries. By clicking on individual dots, crash details reveal that crashes occur across a variety of days, times, road types and crash types; no county within the region is spared. Understanding where, how and why crashes occur can help MARC and partner agencies across the region deploy intervention strategies through engineering, education, enforcement, and emergency response. 

Regional Fatalities and Serious Injuries

Autonomous and connected vehicles

Automated and connected vehicle technology has the potential to not only make commuting easier, but also make our roads safer for vehicles and pedestrians by increasing communication between systems. Examples of automated and connected vehicle technology are popping up across the United States, including versions of connected or automated public transportation. Regionwide policies that support safe and efficient implementation of these emerging technologies is imperative. MARC completed a whitepaper to begin to create a regional framework to maximize opportunities and minimize negative impacts of AV technology.

Opportunities for active transportation

Complete streets policies and infrastructure that prioritize the safety of all roadway users offer the added benefit of healthier living. With a built environment that easily accommodates for those that walk, bicycle, roll, run and drive, people will naturally gravitate towards physical activity. It may be transportation related, such as commuting to work, running an errand or for recreational purposes.

Lack of physical activity is a major contributor to the steady rise in rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, stroke and other chronic health conditions in the United States and the Kansas City region.  Incorporating bike and pedestrian infrastructure and facilities for active transportation and recreation promotes physical activity, which shows strong evidence in helping to lower the risk of obesity as well as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes.

Active transportation systems should connect the places where people live, work and play with safe and convenient options for walking and bicycling; this is represented in the map below as activity centers. In addition to activity centers, the plan’s  fiscally constrained active transportation projects are shown, demonstrating the region’s commitment to increasing transportation facilities that support active transportation. 

Planned Active Transportation Projects

Many local governments have adopted complete streets policies and bicycle, pedestrian and trail facility plans. Eleven local governments in the Kansas City region have complete streets resolutions or ordinances, including Kansas City, Missouri and Johnson County, Kansas. 

Reducing pollutants

Emissions from cars and trucks in the region have decreased significantly over the past three decades due to cleaner-running engines. However, air pollution from cars and trucks continues to contribute to adverse respiratory and cardiovascular health effects. 

Increased use of alternative modes of transportation — such as biking, walking, carpooling and taking the bus — reduces the number of vehicles on the road, helping to keep our air clean and reducing the impact on public health.

The Kansas City region has a ground-level ozone design value of 68 parts per billion (ppb), just under the national standard of 70 ppb.


The region’s transportation system is also a key part of security—the ability to effectively plan for and respond to large-scale hazards. Hazards can be natural—such as tornadoes and other extreme weather—manmade—such as hazardous materials spills on the highway system—or intentional—such as acts of terrorism. MARC helps to coordinate efforts across the region to plan for and coordinate responses to such events. See Kansas City Metropolitan Area Regional Coordination Guide, for more information. Prepare KC Metro also has information about emergency preparedness.


AIR QUALITY — Prioritize projects and programs that reduce ozone-forming and particulate emissions to ensure continued compliance with federal air quality standards and consistent with the Clean Air Action Plan.

COMPLETE AND GREEN STREETS — Design, build and maintain streets that are safe and convenient for all travelers, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, transit riders and freight, and that use natural systems to enhance stormwater management, mitigate heat islands, improve air and water quality to create desirable corridors connecting walkable activity centers. Complete streets information

EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS — Integrate emergency preparedness planning into the transportation planning processes, recognizing the important role transportation systems play in emergency response and recovery and emphasizing the needs of vulnerable populations.

EQUITABLE INVESTMENT — Support greater investment in transportation projects that address the needs of disadvantaged populations and communities and ensure more equitable outcomes.

MOBILITY HUBS — Work with local governments to develop, fund and build mobility hubs in key activity centers where transit services connect with a variety of other mobility services so people can easily switch from bike to bus, rent a car or bike, hail a ride, meet a vanpool, or charge an electric vehicle.

MOBILITY INNOVATIONS — Promote innovative services and technologies that expand or enhance safe and efficient mobility options for people and goods.

MORE MODE CHOICES — Prioritize broader implementation of accessible mobility services, such as bicycle, scooter and car-sharing options, as well as microtransit services to supplement fixed-route transit with first/last mile solutions.

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION — Expand and enhance transit services along high-demand corridors as recommended in the Smart Moves Plan. Provide microtransit, or other on-call, curb-to-curb mobility services for lower-density areas throughout the region to provide an appropriate balance between ridership and coverage goals.

SAFETY — Prioritize safety for all modes of travel through engineered, educational and enforcement solutions as recommended in the Regional Safety Blueprint. This may include engineering efforts such as traffic calming and street tree planting, educational outreach such as public service announcements and data sharing, and enforcement of seat belt and safe driving behaviors.

SYSTEM EFFICIENCY — Design, fund and implement projects and programs that improve and maintain reliable, efficient system operations, including transportation demand management strategies, transportation system management and operations, and intelligent transportation systems consistent with regional congestion management policies.

TRAILS AND BIKEWAYS — Implement the MetroGreen system with continued planning support as needed, in coordination with the Regional Bikeway Plan. This includes connected trails, greenways and the network of on- and off-road facilities. Develop this system with an increased emphasis on natural resource conservation and restoration of connected stream and riparian corridors.

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