This project and site have a personal beginning that I thought I’d share in an abbreviated form. To begin, my name’s Denny Henke and, for better or worse, I’m the fella that is pushing this little get-up down the hill (and maybe up a hill or two). The project got it’s start in early January 2020 after I got on a bike for the first time in 20 years. I was an avid cyclist for 12 years until a knee injury stopped my from riding. I recently purchased an e-bike and thanks to the assistance of a small electric motor I’m peddling again. What was meant to be a utility bike to take me on a 2 mile round trip on a gravel road has turned into a 18 mile round trip into and around Fredericktown several days a week. For fun, for shopping, for meetings, a bike is again my favorite form of transport and my car sits unused 6 days a week.
After a week of riding around Fredericktown it occurred to me that we could use some bike racks for locking up bikes at businesses, parks, and Court Square. I also started noticing a few other cyclists. And I started noticing pedestrians. And broken sidewalks. At the speed of a bicycle or on foot a person tends to notice more of the detail around them. By chance I‘d also come across a YouTube video in recent weeks that discussed the bicycle friendly streets in most Dutch cities and it prompted me to look more closely at other places around the world and in the U.S. that promote cycling and walking for transportation and better health. From towns in the Midwest to the east and west coasts I started seeing repeated references to “Complete Streets” and “Livable Streets”. I kept digging and what I found was that communities around the world and in the US have begun a switch to this new human-centered, multi-modal approach to designing communities.
Missouri is one of 37 states to adopt Livable Streets with others on the way. In the state 35+ town, cities and communities have adopted Livable Streets as ordinances and resolutions for changes to their transport infrastructure.
From their Mission Statement
The Missouri Livable Streets project seeks to support and improve the health, well-being and economic vitality of all people and communities across the state through transportation and active living policy development and education.
It isn’t just about building sidewalks and bike lanes, it’s about making our communities more connected and open to people regardless of age, ability, or mode of transportation. Livable Streets policies promote healthy, vibrant communities that businesses want to invest in, people want to live in, and tourists want to visit.
Any town or community that adopts these guidelines will be a better town, why not Fredericktown? Adoption costs nothing and opens up new funding opportunities via a variety of state, federal and private grants.
My next steps were to get in touch with our county health department which led to a meeting at the local Extension office and that was the beginning. We’ve now had several meetings and the project is underway. We’ve got more meetings coming up and will be attending city council and county commission meetings in February. Cycling advocacy activities are being planned for April. More updates to follow soon!