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Archive for Thursday, October 24, 2013

Lawrence still has a way to go before streets are ‘complete’

October 24, 2013

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While the city of Lawrence adopted a "complete streets" policy in 2012, the community still has a long way to go before its roadways are safe for travelers of all stripes.

That was the message at an informational meeting at the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department on Thursday afternoon featuring two national experts on the subject. Darren Smith and Cynthia Hoyle, both of the National Complete Streets Coalition, talked with city officials and members of the public about how to make Lawrence's "complete streets" policy a success.

"We're trying to maximize the potential of the streets for everyone who uses them," said Smith, a Lawrence native and Washington, D.C.-based policy representative for the National Association of Realtors, adding that it's about striking the proper balance between "competing users in this finite space we have."

"Passing the policy is the easy part," added Hoyle, a transportation planner from Urbana, Ill. "Actually implementing the policy is where things get challenging."

The health department recently surveyed members of the community about the challenges they run into when walking, bicycling and using other forms of transportation. Many older residents say they would like to exercise more but face such barriers as a lack of sidewalks or inadequate sidewalks.

Members of the public got the chance to be transportation planners for a day when they broke into groups to analyze how the intersection of 23rd and Louisiana could be improved for different groups of travelers. Among the findings: The intersection works well for motorists, but less so for people with disabilities, transit users and pedestrians.

"I think a bicyclist would be crazy to ride on 23rd Street," said Lawrence resident Bonnie Uffman, noting the lack of bike lanes and uneven sidewalks. "It would be suicidal."

Smith said there are economic benefits to "complete streets," which have been found to boost local home values and private investment. And with an aging Baby Boomer population and high rates of obesity among children, "complete streets" can also be a boon to public health by making it easier for people of all ages to walk and ride their bikes, he added.

Hoyle explained that successful "complete streets" policy implementation might be measured by fewer crashes, reduced speed by motorists, better air quality and public health, and more walking, biking and public transit.

Comments

Brett McCabe 1 year, 4 months ago

Making Lawrence an easier place to bike and walk is critical to keeping the core of the city strong. As mentioned in the article, complete streets actually have been proven to be safer while dramatically increasing bike commuting and walking. To see what it could look like, take a look at this link: http://www.treehugger.com/bikes/short-film-amsterdam-will-blow-your-mind-video.html. Pretty amazing stuff!

Richard Heckler 1 year, 4 months ago

One of the points made was that "Complete Streets" would provide a safe place and convenient place for people to exercise. To which I say is logical.

Lawrence adopts a lot of nice sounding policies but lacks follow through.

The local response to such matters is that Lawrence does not have the money. That is the most favorite coming from the local government. Yet at the same time this same local government did not hesitate to spend $30 million tax dollars on a Field House that is anything but located in a central location. When it comes to handing out $12 million tax abatements not much hesitation.

If $42 million tax dollars were to spend on a Complete Streets project that included all sides of town would certainly put Lawrence on the map as a progressive city. This would be a sign that Lawrence takes care of its' community and demonstrates insight. People like to be outside however driving 10 miles to exercise is simply not practical or logical.

Complete Streets would be a wise investment more so than any cookie cutter hotel or rec center project.

Richard Heckler 1 year, 4 months ago

Excellent points.

"Darren Smith said there are economic benefits to "complete streets," which have been found to boost local home values and private investment. And with an aging Baby Boomer population and high rates of obesity among children, "complete streets" can also be a boon to public health by making it easier for people of all ages to walk and ride their bikes, he added."

"Cynthia Hoyle explained that successful "complete streets" policy implementation might be measured by fewer crashes, reduced speed by motorists, better air quality and public health, and more walking, biking and public transit."

Regionally Kansas City,Mo has been rated among the top 50 larger cities as Bicycle Friendly in Bicycling Magazine. In the mornings I see riders in the 119th and Antioch area ,91st,Metcalf,Somerset and in the Downtown area. Most of these ridres appear to be commuters.

KCMO has also been spending money repairing sidewalks on long stretch of Main street along the business sector heading into the Plaza. Also on Metcalf a few miles of a new wide path and new Transit "pull overs" with shelters. In a local Fairway city council meeting the reps were making a rehab project put in new walks and widening some existing walks....as they were pushing the Walkable Community Concept.

Perhaps walking,biking and transit are becoming vogue. Let's not get left behind.

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