Archive for Friday, April 3, 1998

LOCAL AUTHORITIES, EXPERT DISCUSS PEDESTRIAN SAFETY

April 3, 1998

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Dan Bruder said that making cities more ``walkable'' can stimulate the economy and reduce congestion and pollution.

Adding sidewalks and bike paths were among suggestions on how to make Lawrence a safer place.

Dan Bruder, a national expert on pedestrian and bicycle programs, presented a ``Pedestrian Safety Road Show,'' Thursday to about 35 people at the Union Pacific Depot. The road show included a presentation and input from the police, a city traffic engineer and activist about trouble spots for pedestrians in Lawrence and possible solutions.

``Our grandparents knew a lot more about planning cities than we do,'' Bruder said. ``We've been planning our cities pretty much for our cars.''

Bruder said that making cities more ``walkable'' can stimulate the economy and reduce congestion and pollution. To do that, cities can change engineering, or the design of the streets, attitudes and focus on education, he said.

Nationwide, 6,000 pedestrians are killed and 90,000 are injured annually, according to Bruder. Kansas' pedestrian fatality rate is lower than the national average, but higher than the rate in Iowa or Nebraska.

Medians, bike lanes and dropping lanes on some streets can make them easier for pedestrians to cross, and in some cases better for vehicles, Bruder said.

Police say compliance is needed, too.

``The laws are there; they're well written. The signs are there; they're well posted,'' Lt. David Cobb of the Lawrence Police Department said. Motorist and pedestrians need to comply to avoid accidents. Early education of children could help, he said.

Group members pointed out many spots of concern in Lawrence, such as intersections along 23rd Street, lack of bicycle lanes and paths, and motorists' attitudes.

``The streets are just built `pedestrian, get out of the way,''' said Hilda Enoch, a member of the Coalition on Homeless Concerns.

Dorothy Stites, with the city of Lawrence, said some of the suggested solutions that came from the meeting were adding more sidewalks, changing scramble lanes to medians and having more public transportation.

-- Felicia Haynes phone message number is 832-7173. Her e-mail address is fhaynes@ljworld.com.

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