City approves policy in effort to make streets more pedestrian-friendly

More sidewalks, more bike paths, more ways for people to get across town without cars should be a top-of-mind issue for future city planners, Lawrence city commissioners agreed Tuesday. Commissioners at their weekly meeting unanimously approved a Complete Streets policy that aims to make future city streets more pedestrian-friendly.

The policy calls for future street plans to include several features such as sidewalks, shared-use paths, bicycle lanes, paved shoulders, street trees, additional landscaping, accessible curbs, pedestrian refuge islands and other features.

But the policy is not concrete. The document gives future city officials the ability to exempt projects from the complete streets policy if “feasibility and funding” concerns arise.

Commissioners, though, said they thought the new policy would be particularly helpful when the city begins to rehabilitate older streets.

“I think the reason we haven’t added more of these elements when we retrofit streets is because we didn’t really have a plan or a mantra that spells out what the benefits can be,” said City Commissioner Mike Dever.