Lawrence City Commission approves design contract for city’s first bike boulevards
photo by: City of Lawrence
Designers will soon begin drafting plans to convert two residential streets into Lawrence’s first bike boulevards.
At its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission voted unanimously to approve a $119,595 contract with Alta Planning + Design, with CFS Engineers as a subconsultant, for the design of two bike boulevards. The design cost represents 25 percent of the $467,000 project cost, but city staff recommended a more involved and public process to come up with the conceptual designs since the bike boulevards will be Lawrence’s first.
The contract with Alta includes a substantial process for public input and planning, including public meetings, demonstrations and the creation and presentation of multiple design options. The bike boulevards will be constructed on portions of 13th Street and 21st Street. The 13th Street bike boulevard will extend about 3/4 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.
Vice Mayor Lisa Larsen said she thought the cost of the design contract was high, but that she supported the contract as proposed since the process went beyond basic design services.
“We need this extra engagement with the community, as well as understanding how these bike boulevards work and that we get it right this first time,” Larsen said. “Maybe in the future we wouldn’t need this level of design services, so to speak.”
Mayor Stuart Boley said he rode his bike in the area of both proposed bike boulevards earlier in the day, and that he was excited about the bike boulevard projects. He also agreed that the city should have a more involved design process.
“This is a very significant thing for our community,” Boley said. “We really need to do this and we need to do it right. We really need to make sure that we deal with concerns of the neighborhoods.”
Those concerns included some voiced Tuesday by East Lawrence resident KT Walsh. While Walsh said she wasn’t against the bicycle boulevard, she said that no one from the city had approached the neighborhood about the idea to use 13th Street. Walsh said she was glad community engagement was planned as part of the design, but that she thought a bit of it should have already happened.
City Transportation Engineer Amanda Sahin said that both 13th Street and 21st Street have long been designated as bike routes in the city’s transportation plans, but both Boley and Larsen voiced concern that the neighborhoods hadn’t been notified earlier regarding the idea to convert the streets into bike boulevards. Larsen asked that city engineers follow the same notification process as other departments, such as city planning, so that notifications to neighborhoods are consistent.
As far as the design, bike boulevards can use a variety of features to lower the number and speed of cars and optimize the roadway for bicycle travel, including speed bumps, restricted entries and curb extensions. Sahin previously told the Journal-World that the bike boulevard designs could use one or two features to reduce vehicle speeds, and the design process would determine what those features would be.