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Archive for Tuesday, April 25, 2000

Lawrence trying to be bike-friendly

Bicycle Safety Month begins May 1

April 25, 2000

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Lawrence is becoming a better place for bicyclists, enthusiasts say.

During the last few years, the city has put significantly more money, resources and thought into making the city bicycle friendly.

"I think the city's attitude has changed," said Jim Turner, president of the Lawrence Bicycle Club.







The following events are being planned as part of Bike Safety Month:* Kansas Kids Fitness Day, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 5 at Memorial Stadium -- a safety and physical fitness event for more than 500 third graders.* The ARC & Spoke Ride, May 6 at Sunflower School -- An endurance bike ride to benefit people with developmental disabilities. Call 749-0121 for information.* Rally for Bike Safety, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 13 at Wal-Mart, 3300 Iowa -- Free kids bicycle safety inspections and helmet fitting. 832-8600.* Lawrence Mountain Bike Patrol Day as part of a Rally for Safety, 9 a.m. to noon May 20 at Kansas Blood Services, 535 Gateway Drive -- Volunteers from the bike patrol will be on hand to talk about the new bike patrol program. First aid training will be offered. 832-7940.* Skate Park Safety Clinic and Skateboard Competition, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 20 at Centennial Park, Sixth and Rockledge -- Safety clinic, skateboard competition and professional skater demonstration. 832-7940.* Wheeled Sport Safety Program and Bike Rodeo, time and date to be announced, at Lawrence-Douglas County Fire & Medical station No. 2, 1941 Haskell -- Annual bike rodeo and helmet giveaway, including safety inspections, obstacle course and bicycle registration. 832-7600.

The 1998 hiring of Aaron Bartlett for the newly created position of transportation planner and city bicycle coordinator added momentum, Turner said.

When Bartlett arrived, the city already was building trails such as the one that parallels the South Lawrence Trafficway and Naismith recreational path, which runs south from 23rd Street and Naismith Drive to West 29th Terrace.

As bicycle coordinator, Bartlett's job is to plan for bike lanes or trails as the city grows.

Some results of that planning will be evident at today's city commission meeting at 6:35 p.m. at city hall, Sixth and Massachusetts streets.

Commissioners will be asked to approve an engineering contract for the improvement of North Michigan from Riverridge Road to Second Street, a project that will include bike lanes. They also will be asked to proclaim May as Bike Safety Month. And they will receive a report from the Traffic Safety Commission including the results of a study of bike lane possibilities on the city's existing streets.

The TSC study lists three bike lanes being planned: Naismith Drive from Irving Hill Road to 23rd Street, 15th Street from Massachusetts Street to the east city limits, and 19th Street from Massachusetts to the east city limits. Together, they would cost $207,760. Of that, 80 percent is expected to come from federal grants.

"We are hoping to find out any day now whether ... this has been approved," Bartlett said. "This would be a major step forward, more like a leap."

Bartlett said the three roads would be a foundation on which to build bike routes in the eastern half of Lawrence.

Where full-fledged bike lanes aren't practical, the city is designating bike routes, streets recommended for bicycle riders that are designated with signs.

Meanwhile, new construction projects such as the North Michigan site are designed to include bicycle lanes.

Bartlett said the city will continue to plan for better bicycle access.

"I don't think we can ever close the book and say it's done," he said.

Turner said the progress on the bicycle front and the plans for bicycle racks on the citywide bus service in the works are signs that Lawrence has changed for the better.

"For the first time, the city of Lawrence has really got everything in place to make this a place you can travel by many means," Turner said.

-- Kendrick Blackwood's phone message number is 832-7221. His e-mail address is kblackwood@ljworld.com.

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