Archive for Tuesday, December 17, 2013

City agrees to consider changing ordinance to accommodate hitchhiking network

December 17, 2013


The idea of using hitchhiking as another form of public transportation received a warm reception from Lawrence city commissioners, but they stopped short Tuesday night of changing a key city ordinance that would help the project.

Instead, commissioners unanimously directed staff members to research the feasibility of changing a city ordinance that currently prohibits people from standing along the side of a city street for the purposes of soliciting a ride.

Jenny O'Brien, the founder of the local nonprofit Lawrence OnBoard, said that ordinance is more restrictive than state law, which simply prohibits people from standing on a street to solicit a ride.

"We want to find out a way to get to yes on this," City Manager David Corliss said after about 30 minutes of mostly favorable comment was delivered to city commissioners. "We just haven't had much chance to talk with the city attorney's office and the police department about what unintended consequences there may be."

Commissioners did express some concern about the safety of motorists and hitchhikers who use the program. O'Brien, though, said over the next several months her organization would be working to develop safety-oriented guidelines for riders and motorists. O'Brien said if the city changes the ordinance, it likely would take six months to a year to develop an operational rideshare program.

City commissioners expect to receive a report on the ordinance change at some point in January.


Matthew Herbert 4 years, 4 months ago

Can we go ahead and kill the "T" program now, since hitchhiking rideshare programs have zero net cost to the city, or will we maintain a costly program while the commission crafts policy to undermine its existing public transportation network?

Beator 4 years, 4 months ago

Good point. Also, ride-share participants should exchange phone numbers for better access to get where they want to go. Then, neighborly call one another to get there.

Kevin Elliott 4 years, 4 months ago

Its a shame when we have to stop a discussion to educate the uninformed. Mike, hitch-hiking or flying or writing a check is NOT a Constitutional right, so requiring steps to participate is ok. Voting is a constitutional right so the ability to participate has a different standard. That standard is NOT your opinion, you do not substitute for constitutional law. Your comment is pointless and invalid.

Simply calling for id has never been called discriminitory in general, only when it disenfranchises voters.

Those who are flippant about keeping Americans from voting fail the test of being a good patriotic american.

John Graham 4 years, 4 months ago

But those that would allow illegal or dead voters to vote pass the patriotic test?

Kevin Elliott 4 years, 4 months ago

Absolutely you fail if you think the best option is to disenfranchise thousands of legitimate voters to prevent what is documented to be 8 suspected cases in 10 years.

RJ Johnson 4 years, 4 months ago

This is not a good idea nor is it safe!!

Beator 4 years, 4 months ago

It's safe if everyone had photo ID's....wait a ID's are discriminatory. Can't use photo ID's to vote...I guess you are correct. It is not safe.

Ken Lassman 4 years, 4 months ago

You folks are certainly entitled to your opinion, but to me you are coming across as boys with bb guns looking to shoot at anything that moves. This innovative project has been rolled out very slowly and deliberately step by step, taking data along the way to see if any issues were going to emerge, and, instead, have been pleasantly surprised at how well the safeguards work, how acceptable the terms have been for both the driver and the rider, etc. Had Ms O'Brien not done her homework so well, it seems doubtful that such an endeavor and change in regulations would ever be considered.

Implementing Onboard might even increase ridership on the T as folks from rural areas getting rides into town find themselves needing to move from one part of town to another without having an alternative. This is one of the prime target populations for using the Onboard concepts, something that would actually bring non-city revenues into supporting the city buses if you think about it.

Using a photo ID is a safety feature that helps both the rider and driver and in no way violates any rights of either since the entire project is voluntary. Does being carded at a bar violate your rights? Does showing a photo ID at a Dr. office violate your rights?

Richard Heckler 4 years, 4 months ago

If people want to travel this way what exactly is wrong with that? Ms O"Brien presented this matter in a concise and comprehensive manner. Good Job.

As I stated in a previous opportunity I have hitch hiked many times in my life and have met lots of nice people in the process. Sometimes turning down rides needs to be part of the plan.

My wife and I did so on our honeymoon with bikes in tow and we also employed other forms of public transportation while out and about. Yes we employed public bus systems and trains. Traveling without our car allowed for an extended honeymoon due to the financial resources that would have been applied to keeping a vehicle on the road = great fun.

Clark Coan 4 years, 4 months ago

Only a couple of hundred will participate and It will fizzle out as do many grassroots programs in Lawrence. Remember the White Bikes Program or the REAL Dollar local currency? Heck, 70% don't recycle in Lawrence.

Beator 4 years, 4 months ago

Yes. I remember the bike ordeal. I remember in about a week, there were bikes in bushes, trees and just about everywhere they were not meant to be. It was great for laughs.

Ken Lassman 4 years, 4 months ago

The difference between many past failed grassroots efforts of the past and Onboard is Jennie O'Brien. Don't too quickly discount her ability to move a project that looks good on paper to a project that actually works in the real world. I suggest you take a gander at the project's website: to see not only the thinking behind it, but also the experientially based approach that has been taken to get it to this point. Seems to me that she and her rapidly growing group of supporters are taking the all the necessary steps to secure a good footing on the way toward success. Good luck, Jennie!

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