Letters to the Editor

Oread dangers

August 28, 2012


To the editor:

The tragic vehicle-pedestrian incident in the 1600 block of Tennessee illustrates a perpetual, unaddressed danger in portions of the Oread Neighborhood, where on many nights, large numbers of people are in the streets, on foot and in cars, inebriated and sober, and the city and KU have not, through policy, ordinance or enforcement, made a dent in this problem.

When something horrendous does happen, the streets fill with emergency vehicles. But when I call 911 because I see hundreds of people, some staggering, many with drinks in hand, and others jumping into vehicles and speeding off, weaving around those in the street, I have been asked, “And you’re calling because?” I was told there is one patrol officer, usually busy, for this area. I have talked to neighborhood resource officers, and I know about budget cuts, but these are not sleepy, residential areas, but known party blocks where people typically drive 40 mph.

Parties are predictable every year: certain weeks, during good weather, on game days, and everyone knows this. “Buddy” T-shirts and cautionary fliers are nice but can be filed under “tip of the iceberg.”

We are immune to the noise and the mayhem (FYI those planning on telling me to move), but we will never get used to the fear of knowing that someone’s child may be injured, or worse, maybe during their first few weeks away from home. Every night that partiers overflow into streets with fast-moving traffic, tragedy is just waiting to happen.


Matthew Herbert 5 years, 5 months ago

I suggest we put together a neighborhood association to start stealing gas from the cars parked along party central. No gas= No DUI. You're welcome.

christy kennedy 5 years, 5 months ago

In the middle of the night when you call the non-emergency number you automatically get the dispatcher.

triplegoddess13 5 years, 5 months ago

And who do you think answers the 911 lines? Those same dispatchers!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 5 months ago

Umm, it would seem from the info already available in this thread that she already knew that.

Darrell Lea 5 years, 5 months ago

Christy, as much as I can empathize with your sentiment, what you are suggesting is an increased police presence to take care of adults who refuse to take care of themselves and act like grown-ups.

This happened yesterday: I was stopped at 17th Street at Kentucky, waiting for traffic to clear so I could continue east on 17th Street. A female college student on a bicycle came up from behind, didn't want to wait on me or the traffic, and proceeded to cycle right into the same traffic I was waiting to clear. She almost got hit several times in a short distance simply because she couldn't grasp the idea that traffic flow off campus is different than on campus.

Some lessons can't be taught in school. I'm sorry that these young adults can't take care of themselves safely in public. I can't do it for them.

christy kennedy 5 years, 5 months ago

People do stupid things all the time, but the idea that any number of people, many underage, can be seen walking around the neighborhood, carrying drinks and often in the street IS a failure of enforcement. Two of our kids went to school elsewhere, and they report that in Providence, RI and Madison, WI, where drinking is BIG, if you walk around in the streets with a drink in your hand you're very likely to get cited or arrested. Other college towns deal with this, some better, some worse. It could be much better here.

somebodynew 5 years, 5 months ago

christy - yes, you present one side of the problem. The other side ?? Have you ever read all the comments when there is a story about extra enforcement by ABC and the Police ??? All the haters saying why don't the police fight "real" crime, and how can they spend this much money and manpower on things that don't matter, etc., etc., etc. I understand where you are coming from, but there will always be unhappy people no matter what the Police do, or don't do.

Also, did you read the little article that said there were 40 some citations issued that night for alcohol violations in that area, UNTIL this accident happened and all the extra police were needed at the accident ?? They were trying, but unless you are going to lock up all the students when not in class, this is going to happen.

christy kennedy 5 years, 5 months ago

I understand that people will be unhappy no matter what as well as the current effort by LPD, but this is a safety issue, not in people's homes, but in the streets and on the sidewalks. From what I can see, no one is the least bit worried about being drunk and walking around with a drink in one hand and car keys in the other. Other college towns deal with this differently, some better, some worse, but I can't believe this is the best we can do.

HutchSaltHawk 5 years, 5 months ago

Isn't the first 6 weeks of the fall semester fun! I live in a residential neighborhood and I have to deal with the college kids next door. After the first 6 weeks, they either grow up and start acting like they have some sense or they flunk out and return to their parent's house. Nothing new. Happens every year.

These "adults" need to realize that they are responsible now for their actions. I don't have a lot of sympathy. Can't fix stupid!

livinginlawrence 5 years, 5 months ago

Rather than having to resort to an increased police presence in these areas known to be frequented by late-night revelers, perhaps what should be considered are improvements to the lighting along the streets. While we're at it, it may be worthwhile to look into making the sidewalks more useful and inviting to pedestrians as well as bicyclists. Just some ideas.

Lisa Medsker 5 years, 5 months ago

Exactly! Also, I'm not so sure that older teens and young twenty-somethings will stop drinking and acting stupid, simply because there are more lights.

livinginlawrence 5 years, 5 months ago

Has anyone suggested that this would be the case?

My suggestion to improve the lighting situation in these parts of town is a pragmatic one; people will continue to be out partying on these streets no matter what, so why not improve the safety of all by at least making them a bit more visible?

jafs 5 years, 5 months ago

Actually, except for some downtown areas, bicyclists are allowed to use sidewalks.

livinginlawrence 5 years, 5 months ago

Correct. Given how narrow streets like Tennessee and Kentucky are, especially when full of parked cars, the safety of such streets would seem to be improved (at least somewhat) by rendering the sidewalks more accessible/less treacherous to cyclists and pedestrians alike. This would mean fewer bicycles along these roads, which would surely please many motorists. While I am certainly an advocate for making streets more accommodating for travelers of all types (bicyclists, pedestrians, motorists, etc.), in this case it seems more feasible to simply improve the sidewalks. If I am not mistaken, this is hardly a new idea.

geekin_topekan 5 years, 5 months ago

B-b-b-ut I thought it was the homeless shelter that uses all the money, uses all the jail space, uses all the hospital beds, uses all the police cars, uses all the sidewalks.

KU is really the greater drain on Lawrence's limited resources? WHich is it?

Richard Heckler 5 years, 5 months ago

I too agree with Christy...

Light up the fast two one way streets for the sake of pedestrians,cyclists and drivers.

Our 1994 sales tax money to fund the new light in addition to other safety measures.

Create and light up pathways on two of the most dangerous streets for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists aka Tennessee and Kentucky. The right of way is available aka existing sidewalks and there is a ton of car, bike and pedestrian traffic in these areas at all hours.

How you say? Widen sidewalks on the eastside of each street to accommodate both cyclists and pedestrians. Light them up

Provide cross walk signs and markings at each intersection from 7th to 19th to increase awareness of drivers Decrease speed by 5 mph from 7th to 19th

In the process the city is making it safer for women = rape prevention.

The investment is small compared to the safety that could be provided. KU students are worth the investment considering the number of jobs they generate and tax dollar revenue they generate. Students generate plenty of sales tax revenue to cover this expense.

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