A system of well-designed bike routes proposed in Transportation 2020 aims to make cycling in Lawrence easier.
If you've ever tried to ride your bike across town, you know the problems: Hard-to-follow bike routes, steep hills and busy streets.
But safer, easier rides across town are envisioned in the city's long-range transportation plan, Transportation 2020, which is expected to be approved by August.
The bicycle component of the plan, which became available to the public on Friday, envisions two major concepts.
One concept is to develop an interconnected network of bicycle routes, trails, paths and/or lanes for different bicycle skill levels and for different purposes.
The other major concept of the plan is that all streets in the city, if feasible, should be accessible to bicycle traffic.
"The biggest thing this transportation plan does is recognize that not all bicyclists are created equal," said Fred Sherman, the city's transportation planner. "There are different types of bicyclists out there. And based off of that, they require different types of facilities and different types of routes."
For example, the network includes "Commuter CityRoutes" that would be used by recreational/student and commuter cyclists. "Recreational CityRoutes" would be used for medium to long-range recreational riding. And "LocalRoutes" are those that would take bicyclists from neighborhood streets to and from the CityRoutes.
Sherman said the bicycle component of the long-range plan tries to link the needs of all four user-groups: Children younger than 10, the novice cyclist, the recreational and student cyclist and the commuter cyclist.
Most of the bike routes that now exist were designed for "novice" or "child" categories. They follow lower-volume, lower speed streets and use off-street paths or trails where possible.
There are now 46 miles of on-road designated bike routes; a one-fourth mile on-road, marked bicycle lane on Louisiana from 11th to 14th; 10 miles of off-road paths on the Kansas River levee; an eight-tenths mile of rail-trail (west of Haskell Avenue and south of 23rd Street); 29 miles of trails at Clinton Lake; and additional off-road trails east of North Lawrence along the river.
However, current system lacks an adequate way to cross busy streets. It's also poorly signed in some areas. It doesn't bring riders to popular destinations.
And it doesn't provide easy ways to cross physical barriers, such as major streets, hills and the river, Sherman said.
"The system doesn't provide a great network of linking all the origins and destinations," he said.
For example, KU is hard to reach on existing bike paths from the east because of the hills.
Also, retail areas on 23rd Street, Iowa Street and Sixth Street now have few safe and convenient access ways for bikes and pedestrians.
"But I think if we plan and put them in places where people are going, people will have more of an impetus to get on their bicycle to go where they're going," Sherman said.
Copies of Transportation 2020 are available for viewing in the planning office at city hall or at the Lawrence Public Library. Public hearings on the plan will be held in June and July.