Joplin: Pop-Up Complete Streets Demo

By Jackson Hotaling

November 14, 2023

On October 19th, 2023's Third Thursday festivities in Downtown Joplin, MRT hosted a 'Pop-Up Complete Streets Demonstration! Learn more about the progress in Joplin, and how we connected about complete streets with community members.

Joplin's Complete Streets Policy and Active Transportation Plan

There is incredible momentum in Joplin toward establishing safer streets throughout the community! In 2022, the City of Joplin adopted both an active transportation plan and a complete streets policy for the first time. Both directives are already guiding city leaders with development goals and identifying capital improvement priorities, and the city appointed a Complete Streets Commission to help the city fulfill projects. To review the active transportation plan and complete streets policy, scroll to the bottom of this blog post.

As a result of Joplin's efforts, Smart Growth America (SGA) recognized Joplin as the fourth-best among a list of the ten best complete streets policies of 2023, along with two other Missouri communities (Rogersville and Riverside). All three of these communities received technical assistance from MRT to develop active transportation plans as part of the Active Living Community of Practice [ALCP] program.

Learn more about Joplin's 4th-place Complete Streets Policy ranking here:

SGA webinar featuring Michael Kelley (BikeWalkKC), which highlights Joplin as one of the US' best complete streets policies

Joplin Third Thursday

To raise awareness for Joplin's Complete Streets Policy and Active Transportation Plan, several organizations came together to host a successful 'Pop-Up Complete Streets Demonstration' in Downtown Joplin as part of a monthly community event that drew thousands of people, October's Third Thursday:

  • Missourians for Responsible Transportation (including partners BikeWalkKC, Local Motion, and Trailnet)
  • City of Joplin (and both the Joplin Area Transportation Study Organization and the Harry S Truman Council of Governments)
  • Downtown Joplin Alliance and Joplin Third Thursday
  • Community advocacy groups: Bike Walk Joplin Coalition, Critical Mass Joplin, and Christina Williams, leader of the Joplin Bike Bus
  • Artist groups: Joplin Arts District and Joplin Youth Volunteer Corps
Four States Homepage report highlighting the preparation for the Joplin Pop-Up Complete Streets Demonstration

Pop-Up Complete Streets Demonstration

Trailnet provided the materials to set up a temporary road diet on the 600 block of Joplin Main Street, and Local Motion brought their bike fleet for people walking by to try. The demonstration reduced the car travel lanes from four to three (with a center turn lane), based on a previous proposal by and discussion with downtown's revitalization organization Downtown Joplin Alliance. Temporary additions as part of the demonstration included northbound and southbound bike lanes, a mid-block crossing, and planters and seating at bump-outs to accentuate crosswalk visibility and provide landscaping and placemaking amenities.

Joplin city staff using temporary paint to outline a crosswalk
As part of a Pop-Up Complete Streets Demonstration in Joplin, temporary bike lanes experienced significant use on Joplin's Main Street during Third Thursday

A map of the pop-up demonstration components can be found below:

The street layout was based on a previous proposal for a road diet on Main Street. The diagrams below demonstrate several elements taken directly from the proposal, including a lane reduction and the addition of parking-protected bike lanes.

Birds-eye-view of proposed Main Street alterations as a part of a proposal for a road diet
Street Mix diagram used in the Joplin Main Street road diet proposal

Home Street Home Exhibit

BikeWalkKC's Home Street Home interactive complete streets exhibit was set up in front of Joplin City Hall

For many community members, the technical language found in both the active transportation plan and the complete streets policy could seem abstract. For folks not be familiar with 'complete streets elements,' BikeWalkKC set up their Home Street Home exhibit to provide a visual and interactive display for complete streets in action:

Home Street Home is an interactive educational exhibit that explores our streets and public spaces as places where we travel, shop, play, and engage with our communities. Good streets are places that support living well: places that make us safer, healthier, and more productive, places with people and activities that make our lives more interesting, places that help us get to work, school, services, and all of the opportunities that improve our quality of life.

The Home Street Home exhibit is designed to be accessible and interesting to a wide audience including child-friendly activities.  It includes five "stations" each with a separate theme and activity. (See images and descriptions of each station, below; click each image to view it larger.) The exhibit is scalable and configurable so that it can easily be adapted to different locations and purposes.

Via BikeWalkKC website

Community Decorated Crosswalks

Beyond safety elements for pedestrians and bicycle riders demonstrated in the pop-up, we also worked with two local artist organizations to make our temporary crossings look visually appealing and community-inspired. Joplin Arts District and Joplin Youth Volunteer Corps painted eye-catching designs on two temporary artistic crosswalks.

Joplin Arts District's koi-themed decorative crosswalk
Joplin Youth Volunteer Corps' lion-themed midblock crossing
Youth Volunteer Corps adding flair to the sidewalks

What's Next for Joplin

As a follow-up in November, Michael Kelley (BikeWalkKC) and Troy Bolander (Director of Planning, Development & Neighborhood Services with the City of Joplin) presented to Joplin City Council [watch from 42:23-1:07:50] about the demonstration event and next steps the city can take towards implementation. You can review these documents to learn what's in store for Joplin:

Joplin Active Transportation Plan

Joplin Complete Streets Ordinance

Community Advocacy

Several community advocacy groups are working locally to carry these conversations forward, as Joplin prepares for upcoming capital funding decisions that may include active transportation. Bike Walk Joplin Coalition, Critical Mass Joplin, and Councilmember Christina Williams, leader of the Joplin Bike Bus, are some of the organizations that put time and effort towards a successful pop-up. You can learn more about their work below in recent podcast interviews:

This advocacy initiative is part of a larger MRT program, which will run through June 2024 with support from Missouri Foundation for Health [MFH]. Through this project, we have been collaborating closely with Regional Planning Commissions to better coordinate and effect positive changes for walking, biking, and transit access on the regional level. We are primarily working within MoDOT's Southwest District, bringing together four regional planning entities: Kaysinger Basin Regional Planning Commission, Southwest Missouri Council of Governments, Harry S Truman Coordinating Council, and Joplin Area Transportation Study Organization. Thank you to MFH for supporting this event.

More information:
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