Kids Fight Urban Sprawl

The Rockin' Robo Rabbits, one of our FLL teams, felt driven to change Kansas City's future development.Jenna, a memberteam, said “When we tabulated the results of our Kansas City Transportation survey we knew Kansas City had to find better ways for people to travel from suburbs to city centers. We focused on creating a better ride-sharing program. Available programs aren’t used much. 72% of Kansas Citians don’t ride share because:

  • They don’t know who is going where they want to go and
  • They don’t want to share rides with strangers.”

Team-mate, Eli, collaborated with Jenna to create an application called RideShare A Go Go. RideShare A Go Go overcomes safety concerns because members request and offer rides through their personal networks on Facebook and Twitter. Eli says, “The beauty of it this solution is that people only share rides only with those they know and trust.”

Once people arrive at City’s centers, they need lower cost, lower polluting ways to circulate. Jacob and Ryan spearheaded the task of researching solutions to this problem. They found that dozens of the world’s major cities have bike rental programs, including Paris, Barcelona, Munich and Washington, DC. Because the cost of the equipment and maintenance is paid for by advertisers in trade for free billboard space, these programs are free to the cities and low cost for users.

The Robo Rabbits felt a rental program made sense for Kansas City, too, in city centers like downtown, the Plaza and UMKC and Corporate Woods. Jacob says, “We encourage Kansas City to offer innovative vehicles like:

  • Power-assisted bikes that help riders with hills or long rides
  • Segways for people with special needs
  • Apedal-powered monorail system that offered weather and accident protection
  • And, bike taxis for those who wanted someone else to do the work”

59 percent of those who answered our survey said they didn’t walk or ride around town because it was too dangerous. We knew we would have to find ways to make biking in urban areas safer. Alex, another member of the RRR team, suggested a wide variety of safety programs including:

  • Online and in-person Personal Transport Vehicle (PTV) training
    • Require free, online training for PTV rental subscribers and provide optional in-person training
    • Require drivers’ education classes and testing to focus on driving safely around pedestrians and PTVs
  • Substantially increase PTV safety laws
  • Require riders to wear helmets
  • Provide helmets at a low cost
  • Dedicate more lanes and trails to PTVs
  • Implement safety barriers to separate cars and PTVs
  • On PTVs, mount
    • Sensors to alert riders to nearby objects
    • Lights and reflectors

The Robo Rabbits presented their survey results and program proposals to the Mid-America Regional Council and diverse members of the community. We hope you, too, will join them in encouraging Kansas City to take the Smart Move challenge and make our city a model of efficient, environmentally-sound transportation.