- Roll Out for Justice photos by Avery Abbott
Local Motion — formerly known as PedNet — rebrands to reflect advocacy focus.
If you have walked, biked, driven, or ridden transit on Columbia’s transportation system — in short, if you’ve gone anywhere — you have likely benefited from the work of Local Motion.
The mission of the nonprofit organization previously known as PedNet is to provide walking, biking, and transit solutions that meet people’s everyday transportation needs. They have been contributing to Columbia’s community since 2000, but in recent years, their focus and strategy have changed. With these changes, they felt they needed a more inclusive, accurate brand and name. Thus, Local Motion was born.
The organization started as PedNet Coalition, which stood for “pedestrian and pedaling network.” The founders of PedNet envisioned a safe and attractive network of trails
and sidewalks that could be used for walking, biking, or using wheelchairs. To help others see their vision, they created a map of what they would like the pedestrian network to look like and how it would work. Driven by that vision, PedNet formed into a legal corporation, hired staff, and started advocating. PedNet had strong successes for many years as their advocacy influence grew, highlighted by the PedNet map being accepted by Columbia City Council and used as the basis of the Parks & Recreation Trails Master Plan.
One of the organization’s first major policy wins was leading the charge for Columbia to adopt a Complete Streets policy. Complete Streets is a transportation policy and infrastructure design approach that promotes safe, convenient, and comfortable travel and access for users of all ages and abilities. The city adopted the policy in 2004, one of the first in the country to do so. Local Motion is currently working on a grassroots campaign to update this policy to be equity-focused. Their campaign goals include “developing and advocating for a new gold standard Complete Streets policy for Columbia, developing an anti-racist community engagement process that relies heavily on community input to inform the details of the Complete Streets policy, and creating a crowdsourced mapping app to gather street-level walking, biking, and accessibility safety and repair data,” according to their website.
Nine years after passing the Complete Streets policy, in 2013, PedNet experienced a leadership change and, with that, began to shift the focus of their advocacy. One of these changes was expanding to include street networks, meaning safer transportation for all of Columbia. They also began focusing more on equity — PedNet saw how disadvantaged groups, such as Black residents, low-income families, children, older adults, and people with disabilities, were being systematically oppressed through transportation policy. The systemic barriers in transportation result in difficulty accessing basic needs, such as food and health care, participating in democracy, and having an increased risk of serious injury or death from traffic crashes.
With this in mind, PedNet changed its advocacy approach to make transportation equity one of the four priority areas of their strategic plan. They also changed their advocacy strategy and began partnering directly with individuals who are negatively impacted by the auto-centric transportation system. These changes to the organization’s focus and advocacy would help inspire the future rebrand to Local Motion.
Their second major advocacy campaign began in 2015 as a result of multiple crashes between drivers and pedestrians in Columbia in a seven-month period. These crashes killed four pedestrians and injured at least six others. Local Motion partnered with the Mayor’s Task Force on Pedestrian Safety, sharing the philosophy of Vision Zero. Vision Zero, as described on Local Motion’s website, is “a transportation policy goal and data-driven strategy to achieve zero traffic deaths or serious injuries on our roadways.” The task force recommended adopting a Vision Zero policy in March of 2016 and Columbia City Council voted it in unanimously in December 2016. The Vision Zero Action Plan was created in April of 2017 and laid out measurable steps for Columbia to reach the goal of zero traffic related deaths or serious injuries by 2030.
As part of these efforts, PedNet launched a grassroots organizing strategy in 2019 and created a neighborhood leadership council made up of 10 members who live and work in Vision Zero priority neighborhoods — neighborhoods with high populations of people of color, low-income families, and households without vehicles.
It was during the leadership change in 2013 that Local Motion’s current chief development officer, Annette Triplett (20 under 40 class of 2020), joined the team. They had updated the logo to incorporate streets, but even at that time, she felt the name PedNet created problems, and she wasn’t the only one. The organization’s scope had broadened to encompass much more than a pedestrian and pedaling network. It was in the back of most people’s minds for years, but talks about a rebrand didn’t get serious until 2019. They were approved to change the organization’s name at the end of that year — but they had no idea what the name would be. In 2020, they worked on brainstorming names and developing the logo, with a list of potential names on sticky notes decorating the hallway so that staffers thought about it as they walked past each day. Lawrence Simonson, chief executive officer of Local Motion, would be responsible for the new official name. The organization planned to celebrate its 20th anniversary and announce the rebrand in May of 2020. Then, of course, COVID-19 happened. They delayed the announcement for about a year and a half until they could meet together and celebrate. Finally, on October 2, 2021, they announced the rebrand at a secret announcement party.
Ending the year on a high note, Local Motion just received the platinum-level GuideStar Seal of Transparency in 2021. Currently, they are focusing on updating Complete Streets, working actively towards Vision Zero, and working on a long-range master plan for what they want transit in Columbia to look like in 20 years.
201 W. Broadway, Bldg. 2, Ste. A
PedNet Coalition is founded with the vision of a network of trails and sidewalks throughout Columbia.
PedNet leads Columbia to be one of the first cities in the United States to adopt the Complete Streets policy.
PedNet faces leadership and strategy changes. With that comes an updated logo and the start of PedNet’s “new phase.”
Columbia is one of the first cities in the country, and the first in Missouri, to pass a Vision Zero policy.
PedNet launches grassroots organizing strategy with neighborhood leaders in the Vision Zero priority neighborhoods.
PedNet is awarded the platinum-level Guidestar Seal of Transparency and announces rebrand to Local Motion.