Closing one lane of Naismith Drive to provide space for a bicycle lane rivals the city's obsession with roundabouts as one of the most cockeyed traffic ideas to be considered by the Lawrence City Commission.
Fortunately, city commissioners last week decided to seek additional information before implementing this part of the city's bicycle plan. Additional input may be needed from neighbors and the Lawrence-Douglas County Bicycle Advisory Committee, but barring some overriding new evidence, Mayor Mike Amyx's idea of keeping the street intact and seeking other ways to provide a bicycle lane seems like the way to proceed.
The plan calls for one northbound lane of Naismith Drive to be closed to motor vehicle traffic between 23rd and 19th streets. The vacated lane would be used for bicycle traffic - most of the time. Kansas University leaders have said - quite correctly - that both northbound lanes would be needed to accommodate traffic on certain occasions, notably when spectators are driving to and from KU basketball games in Allen Fieldhouse.
Switching the lane back and forth between a traffic lane and a bicycle lane would be confusing and potentially dangerous. It would be impossible to change signage and painted lane markings every time the traffic pattern is changed for a special event. There also is reason to wonder whether it's a good idea to reduce this busy stretch to one-lane traffic heading north, even to accommodate the energy-efficient use of bicycles.
The good news is that city staff members raised this issue and city commissioners are discussing it before blindly proceeding with a questionable plan. Now if commissioners would only show the same kind of thoughtful oversight on the aforementioned roundabouts!