If you ride a bike or walk in Lawrence, you may be counted.
About 35 volunteers are assisting the city and county with a bike and pedestrian count to determine where there is a need for more paths, crosswalks and bike lanes. The count was under way at some sites Thursday and will continue through the weekend.
Transportation planner Jessica Mortinger said last year’s inaugural count, not surprisingly, found a lot of traffic near campus.
“From the proximity maps that we had done we found a lot of volume and density in the center core of the city, so that would be around the university and closer to downtown,” Mortinger said.
Last year, 1,112 pedestrians and 787 bicyclists were counted. A total of 61 percent of cyclists used sidewalks, while the remainder used the road. And only 34 percent of cyclists were wearing helmets.
This year, there are 12 counting locations throughout the city. Planners added an additional spot in west Lawrence to determine the impact of new construction and population growth. In an effort not to skew the numbers, the count locations are not being made public.
“We want the counts to accurately reflect an average travel day,” Mortinger said.
Counting is done the old-fashioned way, with just a pencil and paper, but the data will eventually wind up in a nationwide database.
Mortinger said Lawrence ranks well above the state average for the number of walkers and cyclists on the road.
“Lawrence is a very walkable city,” she added. “There are a lot of environmental and sustainability issues that encourage people to choose bikes or to walk or run for fitness, and there is a lot of culture in this city that promotes walking and biking.”
Lifetime bicyclist Kelly Barth said it’s true. She moved to Lawrence from Kansas City in 1992 because the city fits her lifestyle.
“It’s primarily for environmental reasons,” Barth said. “I want to reduce my carbon footprint, and it’s also easier to park a bike than it is to find a place for a 2,000-pound car. And I can get plenty of exercise.”