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 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.