Archive for Monday, May 27, 2013

City seeking input on new study of bike, transit, and other multimodal transportation options

May 27, 2013


If going to a public meeting to talk about plans for biking, carpooling and public transit systems in Douglas County doesn’t sound like as much fun as it used to, local officials have a new gadget for you.

As part of its multimodal planning study, Lawrence and Douglas County officials have launched a new interactive mapping system that allows members of the public to make suggestions to the county’s transportation system simply by clicking on a map.

“We have heard a lot of positive feedback about it,” said Jessica Mortinger, a city-county transportation planner who is working on the study.

The map allows people to do a flyover of the entire county, and then pinpoint a location on which they want to leave a comment. For example, if a bicyclist wants to highlight concerns about a particular intersection, she can mark it on the map, write a specific comment and then submit it for everyone else to see. Other viewers can then click on the entry, add additional comments or simply hit a “like” button to indicate support for the sentiment.

“We have heard from people that it is great to see what everybody else is saying,” Mortinger said. “We think it adds to the transparency of the process.”

The city and its consultant have created three interactive maps for the project: One is for comments on the community’s bicycling infrastructure, one is for park and ride commuter issues, and the third is for the city’s public transit system.

The maps can be accessed at The system requires you to create an account and register your e-mail address. The city also will host a traditional public meeting to gather input on the plan from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on June 5 at the Union Pacific Depot, 402 N. Second Street.

The interactive maps are part of the information gathering process for the city and county’s first-ever multimodal transportation study. The study is designed to take a specific look at the systems that need to be in place for people to travel in ways other than an individual vehicle.

The study will focus on three areas:

• Creation of a new countywide bicycle plan. Currently the city of Lawrence has a bicycle plan, but a countywide plan isn’t in place.

“We know that people don’t just stop at the city limits when they are looking for bikeway connections,” Mortinger said.

The study is expected to help identify potential capital improvement projects that could be funded in the future to help improve the local transportation system for bicyclists, Mortinger said.

• Examination of potential sites for park and ride lots. A handful of park and ride commuter lots have sprung up in the city and the county over the last few years. But Mortinger said most of those lots are lacking any formal structure to ensure they’ll exist in the future. The study seeks to do planning for a more formal system because the idea of ride-sharing is expected to be more widespread in the future, Mortinger said.

• Review of the city’s transit system, with a particular emphasis on whether the system can be improved for pedestrians who are walking to and from bus stops.

“We want to do what we can to improve people’s ability to get to bus stops,” Mortinger said.

The study is expected to be completed by late 2013. Mortinger said the department decided to undertake the broad planning effort because the community likely will rely more heavily on alternative modes of transportation in the future.

“We feel like having more transportation choices really is critical to ensuring a good quality of life,” Mortinger said. “Active transportation can be the answer to a lot of issues, whether it easier access to services or improving health or a host of other issues.”

As for the interactive mapping system the city is using for this study, it may end up being the answer to another often-asked city question: How to increase public input on a host of city plans and issues?

Megan Gilliland, communications manager for the city, said the city is likely to look at whether there are ways to used online-based commenting sytems for other technology.

“I think as technology evolves, we need to look at ways to make it easier for people to talk to us,” Gilliland said. “One of the things I like about it is you don’t have to show up at a public meeting to comment and participate. You can log in from home. We think it is going to be a convenient way to communicate with City Hall.”


mt2013 4 years, 12 months ago

Compared to other peer university towns (e.g., CU-Boulder, UC-Davis), Lawrence does not have a "city bicycle plan". Before you go county wide, you might consider making a thorough city wide plan, especially considering how many bicycle accidents occur in Lawrence on an annual basis.

Robert Rauktis 4 years, 12 months ago

“I think as technology evolves, we need to look at ways to make it easier for people to talk to us,” Gilliland said. “One of the things I like about it is you don’t have to show up at a public meeting to comment and participate. You can log in from home. We think it is going to be a convenient way to communicate with City Hall.”

Ms. Gilliland, will this save money or cost us yet another expert study?

John Kyle 4 years, 12 months ago

This is funny but I fear you are serious

Deborah Snyder 4 years, 12 months ago

Mr. Lawhorn,

When I read the opening paragraphs of your article, I was so pleased to think that this study included pedestrian (intermodal) sidewalk usage needs, and without further ado, went to the website listed to add my comments.

After some time negotiating the site, I managed to contrive my suggestions via the bus route map, but it was only after returning to your article and finishing my reading that I realized there was actually no pedestrian input included anywhere at all.

It seems to me a shame that ISTEA monies don't seem to move beyond mechanical transport, and that if sidewalks are included, its because of bicyle lanes or traffic count alone (and the restrictions of ISTEA monies to begin with to include sidewalks) and even then, only if the money holds out for the extra cement to create one.

As an example, I point to the monies used to improve 19th Street, and only to observe the section of street between Louisiana and Naismith. There, you will find a wide walkway on both sides of the street until .... the bicycle lane ends at Alabama, and then (apparently) so does the sidewalk on the north side of the street. This section, by the way, is one of the most heavily used areas for pedestrian traffic across a minor arterial street heavy with vehicles most of the year. Both bicyclists and pedestrians (not to mention fender-benders) have been occurred as minor accidents, or nearly so over the years .... without avail from the city.

It would seem to be a reasonable request to finish a two block, three street section of dirt path on this intermodal transporation website, and I can only hope someone will pass this old request along (again) for consideration.

Jack Clayton 4 years, 12 months ago

Awww, poor vehicles. Left out of city planning again....

Give me a break.

Do you show up to equality rallies and pine for the rights of the white man?

Jack Clayton 4 years, 12 months ago

I used a rhetorical question to draw a parallel in order to make a point. A point that you evidently missed...

Jack Clayton 4 years, 12 months ago

Yes the ridiculousness of an equality rally for white men is exactly what I was trying to illustrate with that rhetorical question, thank you. But again, you're missing the larger point.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 11 months ago

Are you seriously asserting that this study means that motor vehicle traffic will be ignored, as opposed to remaining by far the primary focus of government and government expenditures that it's been for nearly a century?

usesomesense 4 years, 12 months ago

Do we really need to spend more money looking at how the 'T' costs way more than it's worth? The problem with the concept of 'mass transit' in Lawrence is the fact that we don't have 'the masses'. The huge empty buses simply add to pollution and create excessive wear on our streets. A cab voucher system would have made way more sense.

Jack Clayton 4 years, 12 months ago

Haha. The word 'mass' in mass transit might conjure an image of Times Square for you, but that is not what it means; it simply means public transportation. The size of the municipality in question does not matter. Baldwin City could have mass transit.

As for ridership: it will take time for the cultural shift toward sustainable modes of transportation to take full effect, but eliminating our options now only stifles progress. As an aside, I ride the T frequently and rarely see buses close to empty during daytime hours.

Jack Clayton 4 years, 12 months ago

Is this supposed to contradict my comment in any way? Yes, that is what public transportation does - it carries "many" people (as opposed to say, 1.7 people which was the Average Vehicle Occupancy in the United States as of 2010), a feat that can achieved in communities of almost any size. Thanks for making no valid point whatsoever and wasting both of our time.

shadowlady 4 years, 12 months ago

You speaking of taxi's, the city needs to put in an ordinance that the people using taxi service, need to pay up front," since it a set fair", because too many college kids cheat these taxi drivers out of their money. To me this is the same thing as stealing. These taxi drivers have to pay out of their own pocket that these dead beat college students rip them off of. They give an excuse oh I don't have a enough money I'll have to go to my apartment and get the money and then they never return, or give give a bum debit card, or figure out a different way of not paying for the service. These taxi drivers do not get paid enough as it is and they are supplying a service to the community. They have to deal with drunks, people throwing up in their vehicle, lewd and misconduct of drunk females, etc.etc, etc. Ok I'll get off my band wagon now, it just ticks me off that people get away with this.

skull 4 years, 12 months ago

I'm pretty sure taxi drivers are able to run their businesses how they see fit. Also, how much would one have to pay up front to throw up in the taxi?

Leslie Swearingen 4 years, 12 months ago

I can't even imagine taking a taxi, both because of the price and the time wait, when I get can where I need to on the bus for fifty cents as a senior. It is a dollar for everyone else. I would call that a bargain

A bus near the end of its route is going to be empty. Then when it starts back around it starts filling up with passengers. There are quite a few who ride the bus regularly and depend upon it for work, school, doctor, shopping, etc. It is not only the KU students who take the bus to and from class but middle and high school students do also.

Anthony Mall 4 years, 12 months ago

Typical Lawrence! Once a week have to out bicycles back into a debate. Some people wanted the tennis club to pay for the tennis court lights, in that mindset we can have cyclists pay for all the paths, bike lanes, water fountains they want! Try working on the the cities major issues like public safety, water, and other issues before we launch a page where people can complain about cycling!!

skull 4 years, 12 months ago

Typical reality_check! Some people actually ride their bikes to work everyday, and not just because they're too poor or legally obligated to. In that mindset, maybe a safer transit system for ALL forms of transportation should be a priority for the community.

Brian Laird 4 years, 11 months ago

That would be a valid point if streets and roads were financed entirely from revenue from gas taxes plus registration fees; however those revenue sources are not sufficient being close to covering what is spent in the state for transportation infrastructure, so everyone who pays taxes (sales, property, income) are contributing to funding for the roads even if they do not own a car.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 11 months ago

Bicycles don't tear up roads and pollute the air such that our fossil fuel vehicles do. In essence walking and bicycle use is paying back the taxpayers instead of demanding $200 million tax $$$$$ trafficways, 4 lanes on highway 59 and more lanes on K-10. PLUS constant rehab on local city streets.

If my memory serves me well the cost of one mile of 4 lane roadway would provide 250 miles of safe bike paths. The best bang for the tax $$$$$ I'd say.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 11 months ago

In Tulsa, right now, they’re spending $30 million to widen one mile of Yale Avenue. “With that $30 million, what could they have bought?” asked Flusche. “Six hundred miles of bike lane, 100 miles of sidewalk, 300 miles of buffered bike lanes, 120 miles of bicycle boulevards, 30 miles of first-rate bike trails, 20 miles of really elite physically separated cycle tracks, or 2,000 rapid flashing beacons for pedestrian safety.”

Bike facility construction generally has a much better ratio of labor to materials, meaning that bike facilities create more jobs per dollar than new roads.

Those new bike facilities aren’t just good for the bottom line of adjacent businesses – they’re also good for nearby property owners, who see their property values rise. A home near Indianapolis’ Monon trail is worth 11 percent more than a home a half mile away, Flusche noted. Each WalkScore point is worth $700 to $3,000 in the price of a house.

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