Lawrence City Commission to consider design contract for city’s first bike boulevards

photo by: Journal-World File Photo

A group of cyclists rides along a Lawrence street in this file photo from August 2016.

The design of Lawrence’s first bike boulevards could soon be underway, and the city wants residents to have a say in exactly what the boulevards will look like.

At its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission will consider awarding an approximately $120,000 design contract for two bike boulevards: one for a portion of 13th Street and the other for a portion of 21st Street. Because they will be Lawrence’s first bike boulevards, city staff is recommending a more involved process to come up with the conceptual design.

Bike boulevards can use a variety of features — such as speed bumps, restricted entries and curb extensions — to lower the number and speed of cars and optimize the roadway for bicycle travel. City Transportation Engineer Amanda Sahin said the bike boulevard designs could use one or two features to reduce vehicle speeds, and the design process would determine what those features are.

“We are hiring an expert to come in here to look at these things and see what’s most effective, what do the neighbors want, all of those types of things,” Sahin said. “All bike boulevards really look different, based on where they are.”

The total cost of the two projects is approximately $467,000, making the design contract approximately 25 percent of the total project cost. The 13th Street bike boulevard will extend about three-quarters of a mile, from Massachusetts Street to Haskell Avenue, and the 21st Street bike boulevard will extend about 1.3 miles, from Iowa Street to Massachusetts Street. Both boulevards link to existing multi-use paths within the city.

A city staff memo to the commission notes that the design contract is a substantial amount of the project budget but states that the projects are critical to the success of bike boulevards because they will be the city’s first. To that end, the memo states that the contract includes a substantial process for public input and design planning, including public meetings, demonstrations, creation of design alternatives and design plan presentations.

As part of their meeting, commissioners will consider awarding a $119,595 contract to Alta Planning + Design, with CFS Engineers as a subconsultant, for the design of the two bike boulevards. Alta has completed many bike boulevards across the country, including boulevards in Wichita, St. Louis and Palo Alto, Calif., according to the memo.

Eight design elements are used to create bike boulevards, including management of speed, volume and crossings, as well as the addition of signs and pavement markings, according to the National Association of City Transportation Officials. Bicycle boulevards should have a maximum posted speed of 25 mph and can use medians or other devices to limit through traffic.

The commission approved funding for the bike boulevards, along with other bicycle and pedestrian projects, in May.

Some of the potential features to reduce vehicle speeds for bike boulevards are as follows, with descriptions of the features according to NACTO:

Curb extensions or bulb-outs extend the sidewalk or curb face into the parking lane at an intersection and are often used on either side of a crosswalk. When placed on the bicycle boulevard, they visually narrow the roadway and increase space for landscaping or street furniture.

Traffic circles are raised or delineated islands placed at intersections that reduce vehicle speeds by narrowing the lane and radius of turns.

Speed humps are 3 to 4 inches high, 12 to 14 feet long and designed to reduce speeds to 15 to 20 mph.

Speed tables are longer than speed humps and are flat-topped, with a height of 3 to 3.5 inches and a length of 22 feet. Vehicle operating speeds range from 25 to 35 mph, depending on the spacing, and speed tables may be used on collector streets and/or public transit and emergency response routes.

The City Commission will meet at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St.

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