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Archive for Tuesday, March 31, 1998

AUTHORITY TO HELP CITY STROLL TOWARD PEDESTRIAN SAFETY

March 31, 1998

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Anyone interested in improving pedestrian safety is invited to take part in a ``Pedestrian Safety Roadshow'' Wednesday night at the Union Pacific Depot.

A national authority on pedestrian travel is coming to Lawrence to share his expertise with community leaders, city staffers and anyone else who wants to listen and learn.

Dan Burden, executive director of Walkable Communities Inc., will conduct a ``Pedestrian Safety Roadshow'' from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday at Union Pacific Depot, 402 N. Second.

Up to 30 people will be able to learn all about how pedestrians weave into the transportation fabric of Lawrence, and what people can do to help make Lawrence safer for them.

``Lots of times people really haven't thought about it -- how to make it better or easier for pedestrians to get around,'' said Kathy Facer, a transportation planner for the Federal Highway Administration in Kansas City, Mo., which is organizing the event. ``If we have a group get together and talk about a lot of the things that work well in Lawrence, and some of the areas could get better ... we could have some things for the community to think about.''

Each year 6,000 pedestrians are killed and 90,000 are injured in accidents, all of which result in $20 billion in societal costs, the highway administration said. Kansas' pedestrian fatality rate is below the national average, but still higher than in Iowa and Nebraska.

To start the process toward increased safety, Burden will tell program participants about the facts behind the problems, then give way to open discussions in search of solutions and pathways to success. He spent 16 years as pedestrian and bicycle coordinator for the Florida Department of Transportation, and today oversees a nonprofit corporation that promotes the creation of walker-friendly communities.

The event is open to anyone concerned about pedestrian safety. Facer said that traffic engineers, school crossing guards, emergency personnel and others have taken the most from previous sessions.

Facer said that the local meeting could lead to plans -- informal or formal -- for improving safety in town, which always should be a goal. Beginning Wednesday, she will be at Kansas University teaching 20 transportation officials from throughout the region how to conduct similar programs in their own communities.

Local input, she said, is key.

``These things are very local issues,'' Facer said. ``I can't come in and tell you what will work for Lawrence.''

-- Mark Fagan's phone message number is 832-7188. His e-mail address is fagan

//www.ota.fhwa.dot.gov/walk/ You can also find this link on the Journal-World's web site, at http://www.ljworld.com.

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