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How could City Hall make Lawrence more safe and friendly for pedestrians?

Asked at Massachusetts Street on April 12, 2005

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Photo of Dominic Sova

“I would eliminate the cars on Mass. Street. It would be great if Mass. Street were only for pedestrians.”

Photo of Cree Johannsen

“I think Lawrence is just fine the way it is. This is a very pedestrian-friendly city.”

Photo of Benjamin Bell

“I don’t know. It doesn’t seem too bad to me, really. I guess they could have a few more bike cops.”

Photo of Hilary Morton

“They need to be more consistent about paving the sidewalks on the same side of the street. You always have to cross the street just to walk on the sidewalk.”


lunacydetector 13 years, 1 month ago

i assume this question comes from the article about the girl who got killed (hit and run) in front of the Cadillac ranch. this is the third time someone has been hit by a car - 2 on foot and one on a motorcycle.

i don't have a definite solution for the problem on 6th Street. perhaps enforce the parking, or, make the ranch pay for a cross walk & light, or, have bubba the bouncer escort people across the street.

regardless, these are tragedies that should not have happened assuming they were all alcohol related.

a giant roundabout might be needed - like the one proposed at 19th and louisiana (lawrence high school). if a roundabout is safe enough for our children at a dangerous intersection, surely it would be safe enough for a few drunk driver/walkers.

Hong_Kong_Phooey 13 years, 1 month ago

I've lived in many cities throughout my life and I have to say that Lawrence is one of the worst to be a pedestrian in. Why?

For one, this city is so poorly lit it's ridiculous. Hardly any of the major streets with pedestrian traffic have street lights. Think about Tennessee or Kentucky. You're lucky if you can see your hand in front of your face on those roads. It would help in ways other than just pedestrian matters. Think about it - it would be a lot harder for someone to break into those apartments/houses if there was actually some light around.

Second, I think that the jaywalking law should be enforced. It may not be friendly, but it would help with safety. People here just step right out into traffic (most without even looking - they just expect you to stop). That whole problem down on sixth street could have likely been avoided if they hadn't been playing "Frogger" to get back to their cars.

In my ever so humble opinion, I think that is how Lawrence could start to be more safe for pedestrians.

lunacydetector 13 years, 1 month ago

on thursday, friday, and saturday, at last call for alcohol, park an empty police cruiser with lights on, in the center turn lane on 6th in front of the cadillac ranch. that would assure the attention of the patrons and any drunk drivers.

lisamarie65 13 years, 1 month ago

the section of Kasold between Bob Bilings parkway and Clinton Parkway is completely inaccessable to pedestrian traffic -- yet putting in a sidewalk would link the upper west side of town to the walking trails and to the shopping area (Target, T.J. Maxx, etc). The sidewalks from Clinton Parkway on are very nice, and we see a lot of walkers and bikers on them. Sad they dont extend to 6th street!

remember_username 13 years, 1 month ago

I don't think Lawrence is the worst for pedestrians. I lived in several cities that were much more dangerous. However, for a small community it's pretty bad.

The lighting is made friendly to residents who like it dark at night rather than pedestrians. In many areas I cannot even see the sidewalk when walking unless I carry a lantern.

In many places the sideway disappears entirely and I must cross the street to walk on the sidewalk. Now I could backtrack to the nearest intersection to cross but after two or three times of that I start jaywalking. (It's ok in Lawrence right - home of the Jaywalks?)

And those roundabouts are a killer. I guarantee that someone is going to be hit and have a fine opportunity at a lawsuit with the city. The sidewalk entrance to the intersection goes straight across encouraging the pedestrian to walk into the car lane. Instead the sidewalk should steer the pedestrian wide at the intersection. Take a look at the roundabout at 8th and Michigan if you want to see what I mean. All it's going to take is the pedestrian entering the intersection just before the automobile, I've had two near misses already.

As far as rating Lawrence it gets an overall poor rating, if you don't include the third world with their poor traffic laws or the dangerous neighborhoods in other U.S. cities.

jay_allen 13 years, 1 month ago

The tragedy that happened over the weekend was combination of things. A dimly-lit street, a drunk driver, and a jaywalker (Who may or may not have been drunk herself, by the way!). Such a sad occurrence. In the time that I have been living in Lawrence, I too have notice that there are several streets that need better lighting. And!, I too have notice quite a few jaywalkers---at that really bugs me! So I guess in the short term, I would just caution everybody to not drink and drive, and stay on the lookout for pedestrians who cross streets wherever and whenever they feel like it.

Fangorn 13 years, 1 month ago

extreme_makeover: OK, you've piqued my curiosity. I'm not following the direction of your brief contribution. What do you mean?

LM65: I agree that the complete absence of sidewalks on Kasold between Clinton Pkwy and 15th Street ne Bob Billings is a problem. But how much foot and bicycle traffic would we likely see from the upper west side (we sound like NYC!) all the way over to Target, etc.? Most of the people I see on the sidewalks south of Clinton Pkwy and along Clinton Pkwy itself are involved in exercise-related activities (jogging, cycling, and so on). I just don't foresee much shopping traffic along our theoretical Kasold sidewalk.

jonas 13 years, 1 month ago

I don't know about pedestrian problems, but I did just find the ultimate solution for car theft.

Kyle Rohde 13 years, 1 month ago

Its parking area is quite large, but not nearly large enough to accomodate all its patrons on Thursday, Friday, and sometimes Saturday nights. Want proof? Drive through the lot and see all the people parked illegally on curbs and in spots not designated for parking. Then drive through the neighborhood to the south of the bar and see that there is no place to park within 1/2 mile of the bar because of all the cars parked there. Irregardless of all this, parking across 6th from the bar is a horrible idea and one that I've never considered, even though I go to the Ranch usually twice a week. The girl, I believe, was under the influence, if not drunk, and did not judge the speed of the oncoming car very well. That, coupled with his speeding and being under the influence, caused that horrific and sad scene. I'd left the bar about 5 minutes before it happened too, scary stuff.

RachelleB 13 years, 1 month ago

I am a friend of Jodie's, through our home state, Oregon. I love her so much and will miss her. I try to explain to people what she was like. If you didn't know her, you may never understand. She was smart, beautiful, and confident - among many other things. I have never met anyone like her. She made me rethink what was important in my life and inspired me. I have been following these online articles since her death...

It made me sad to read the articles and comments. First, it hurts to hear your dear friend referred as a "woman" or a "pedestrian." She was so much more than that. My friend in journalism has had learned to detach herself from these situations. I just want everyone to remember, this could be any one of us, or our child, or our sister. Please don't be so quick to find the blame in the whole situation.

Also, I found that some people referred to her as tipsy. Does anyone know that for sure? Do you have her blood alcohol level? I don't know that information yet. There may have been "talk" about what happened but does anyone really know? Could she have been the sober person that night and walking to drive her friends home? Is she automatically tipsy because she left a bar? Even if she was tipsy, I don't understand why people would question her crossing a street, which I am sure hundreds do a day, even though it may not be safe.

We are all guilty of jay-walking. If you are not guilty of it, be proud of that. I won't do it again! But this could have happened to someone whether they were tipsy or sober. This could have happened to someone crossing a legitimate crosswalk. Someone was driving under the influence and killed her. Many of us have been guilty of driving under the influence as well. Of course, if there was any alcohol in her blood, that will come in to play. Many of us have jay-walked and this may prevent us from doing it in the future but think about this, since we don't know all the facts. Imagine you planned on going out with some friends for some drinks. You said you didn't want to drive because you were going to drink. A friend said they would pick you up and then drive you home. You then walk across the street to their car so they can drive you home. We reward people for not driving drunk. We may walk (so we don't drive drunk) but when someone gets hit by a car for leaving a bar, it sometimes seems to become their fault because they were "tipsy" and they were not at a cross-walk. I just don't understand that.

Please understand, I have never been to Lawrence. I mean no disrespect to the residents. I have done a little research, though and have learned this block is not safe. If this is the third accident since November, maybe something needs to change. I love Jodie so much and know many that feel the same. Just please remember that this could have been anyone of us or someone we love. And also, please don't lose touch with your friends. Take care.

tir 13 years, 1 month ago

Tell cyclists to stay off the sidewalks, except maybe for the little kids who are too young to ride in traffic. Some of the adult cyclists zip down the sidewalks faster than the traffic in the adjacent streets, and they often don't bother to slow down when they come up behind pedestrians or warn them they are about to blow past at a high rate of speed. Come to think of it, isn't there already a city ordinance against riding bikes on the sidewalk?

remember_username 13 years, 1 month ago

There are several streets in Lawrence that could use some safety improvments. The timing on the lights is not condusive to older folks using the crosswalk. Several roads have too few crosswalks spaced far apart. Many cars turning through crosswalks do not wait for pedestrians to pass. The situation in which the pedestrian was killed should serve as a wake-up call that some of these safety issues be resolved. Or do we have to wait for a sober person to be killed by another sober person before we address them.

Hong_Kong_Phooey 13 years, 1 month ago

Consumer: I don't really follow you. What "new laws" are you referring to? Having a police car positioned in the turning lane wouldn't be a law. In fact, it appears that you have not been out in a long time because if you had, you would know that the police are usually outside of a majority of the bars at closing time anyway. "Jaywalking" laws are not new - just not enforced.

By the way, this question didn't come about as a result of the girl getting killed on 6th. It was referring to the article about the National racewalking team member(dork walking) who came and did a "walking audit" of the city to judge it's friendliness and safety towards pedestrians.

craigers 13 years, 1 month ago

I don't mean to be completely off topic, but I am just really frustrated today with the Sanitation department. They tell us we can't use plastic bags for yard waste/clippings and they will let us use paper bags that are hard to dump a mower bag into. Or the other option is to put the yard waste in a plastic trash container, which is the choice I made. Now that I have a 43 gallon container for grass so I don't have 8 smaller trash cans, they tell me with a little note that the can is too heavy!!! What is up with that? Not only do we mow the yards but we can't use plastic bags which are the easiest thing to use, and we can't use bigger trash cans because they get too heavy for the wittle trash men. Man, this stinks. Does anybody know if they make large paper yard sacks to use? I am just trying to figure out what I can do to mow the yard and please the trashmen so they will pick up my stuff. Sorry, I just had to rant a little.

On the question, I do have to agree with Hilary pictured above since the sidewalks just abruptly stop sometimes and then start again a little later on the same side of the road. I guess we don't have enough money in the city to fix the streets and have complete sidewalks, we must compromise.

remember_username 13 years, 1 month ago

Craigers, While walking (and dodging cars, street persons asking for change, and manic bicyclists) I have observed large paper bags with clippings from Home Depot markings on them.

remember_username 13 years, 1 month ago

In line with Dominics thought. How about making Mass from 11th to 6th single lane - one way? Widen the sidwalks and allow the business to expand their smoking and cafe' areas more into the widened sidwalks? I think it would be very easy to do and add to the downtown foot traffic? What does everybody think? (Assume the city has the funds to do this and repair the streets it already has.)

Ceallach 13 years, 1 month ago

Maybe we should tap the city's expense line for consultants to fix/add the sidewalks. That budget line seems to be as limitless and the consultants lined up to tell our leaders what-when-where-how they should proceed. Maybe someone has been keeping track of the hundreds of thousands of dollars this city has poured down the consultant drain in the last 5 or 6 years. If so, please share the total with us. That should get a very lively stream going.

Fangorn 13 years, 1 month ago

extreme_makeover: I didn't think you were begging the question. I just didn't know what you meant. Thanks for fleshing out your proposal!

craigers: large, self-standing paper bags are available at Wal-Mart and Home Depot (and I'm sure at others like Ace Hardware also). They're about three feet tall and can hold a good amount. I mulch my grass so I'm not so much affected by this. But I hate raking, so I bag the leaves in the autumn and use these paper bags for disposal. The bags themsleves are a seasonal item and should start showing up in the stores soon, if not already.

Huckleberry 13 years, 1 month ago

Larryville, I think you're right, but he'll probably get off with way less than ten years. Which is horrible, but probably true. Remeber the 18 year old kid, Shawn Trager who was killed by a trucker at Baker last year? He was in a car sitting still on highway 56, waiting to turn left on a strait road. The trucker, who was on 100 years probation for coke and had used coke in the previous 24 hours, didn't even tap his breaks. The kid was killed instantly. Where is the trucker now? Free. On "probation."

kansas 13 years, 1 month ago

Actually, fangorn, those bags of which you speak are not seasonal, they're avaliable year round. And they can be bought at any hardware store like Home Depot, or at a big retailer like Wal*Mart. They're a good thing for the environment, unlike Hefty plastic bags. You can purchase a bundle of five for about 3 bucks or so. Maybe more, maybe less depending on where you shop.

Fangorn 13 years, 1 month ago

kansas: really?! A couple years ago I got started on my leave removal a little late in the season and I had a horrible time finding the darn things. By the time I started looking for them, no one had them. Now I buy more than I need so I always have some on hand. I guess I just assumed they were seasonal because of my experience. Thanks for correcting me. (sorry about that, craigers, I didn't mislead intentionally).

thebiekers 13 years, 1 month ago

This is actually at least the fourth such accident on the 2500 block of 6th St. - my fiance was hit crossing the street on his bike about a year and a half ago by someone not paying attention. Although his bike was banged up pretty badly he was not seriously hurt and they never reported the incident.

We live at Trailridge, as does my sister and her friends (one of whom witnessed the accident.) Based on first hand accounts, I can tell you this girl could not have seen the car coming. This was not a case of a drunken pedestrian goofing off and trying to beat out traffic. I've heard that the car was coming from behind the hill going westward at 60-80 miles per hour. It was fast enough that none of them could make out the type of car - just that they thought it was red.

People from the Ranch routinely come over to Trailridge and extend their partying. I've had my car vandalized and have been kept awake countless nights. There are families who live here. This is not a dormatory. I have called police several times and they have NEVER DONE ANYTHING. I know this is desirable by the large collegiate population, but it's terrible for everyone else.

The Ranch should NOT be allowed to have more people inside than it can fit in its parking lot. I should NOT have to fight for parking space in front of my own home. There ARE signs up by the apartment complex. But the complex and security people have only so much leeway. They can only tow cars left there the next morning when the office opens and they can verify that no one in the complex owns that car. It's not really fair to expect our complex to have an office staffed 24 hours a day to ward off Ranch patrons. The security people can do nothing except call the police and that's where the protection stops. No officer ever even followed up with me about my car being vandalized. Never even a phone call. And I agree that, just like bars on Mass street, there needs to be police around the Ranch when it closes.

The lights all turn off on 6th street at 10:00pm. That means you can drive from Iowa to Highway 40 without stopping once. Although there are frequently police with radar East of Iowa, I HAVE NEVER in the 5 years I've been here EVER seen someone taking radar west of Iowa on 6th. There are countless near misses for every one reported accident here in front of Trailridge and Greystone. Something has to be done. Pedestrians and apartment complexes should not have to shoulder the full responsibility.

BunE 13 years, 1 month ago

It is too bad that the car culture that has consumed the US has exerted so much influence over our planners. Urban planning has become Urban Sprawling, we have desgned our cities around the car. Now, I am not saying that the car is bad. I love mine. But the fact remains that since WWII we have made a choice to ignore the needs of pedestrians. Lawrence's development is really too far down the line to make an area like the south side easy to deal with, but maybe a pedestrian Downtown is a possibility. At this point, we need cars to get to the shopping (not to mention to haul all the giant jars of pickles from COSTCO) but if we design neighborhoods that are interconnected to commercial outposts (Brookside anyone?) and encourage the repopulation of the already existing areas, we can maximize our walk-friendly areas.

People would move there if given the chance. Those who don't, well they can enjoy 3 car garages, no trees and all the houses that look the same. Also they can enjoy 2.25 a gallon.

Ceallach 13 years, 1 month ago

Fangorn - thanks for the refs in yesterday's posts - just saw it - gonna get em. Thanks again. I know! I'm off subject. . . again.

remember_username 13 years, 1 month ago

thebeikers - sorry to hear about your problems with sixth street and issues with noisy nieghbors. I have the same problem with bars in my nieghborhood. I think it is mostly students because it is not limited to weekend nights. Thursday night seems to be a big one although I don't know why. I have not had the problem of poor police response that others have described and once the party is shut down it rarely starts back up. I have no civilized solution to the lack of consideration that is prevalent in the college community - any comments?

DaREEKKU 13 years, 1 month ago

I think getting rid of cars on Mass Street and maybe putting in a Trolley system that is eco friendly would be excellent :-). Also, more pedestrian bridges etc would be helpful.

randerson7000 13 years, 1 month ago

Lawrence is not horrible for pedestrians. 9th street could use some work by Iowa and the area downtown around Kentucky and Tennessee. As far as lighting goes I believe that takes a back seat to getting the *&%$ sidewalk fixed on those streets. I can't imagine being disabled and trying to get around there.

donsalsbury 13 years, 1 month ago

I've long been of the opinion that Mass Street should be a completely pedestrian area. Making it Friday and Saturday nights would be a good start, as someone said above, but I'd like to see it be more than that. Maybe all weekend, Friday at 6 to Monday at 4am or so. Of course, the parking would be even worse, especially for the handicapped. But I seldom see the new parking garage close to being full. We could add another level or two to the riverfront mall's old parking garage, that would help. Maybe also incorporate another parking garage into the new library plans.

The businesses would benefit with more cafe space, to be sure, and the city could charge quite a bit more for applications/renewal for setting up a sidewalk eating/smoking area, to help defray the additional cost of sidewalk and parking garage construction.

I agree that more of the stellar walk/jog/bike trails should be all over the major arteries in Lawrence. We could even have over/underpasses for such things, and that could be a neat way to connect all the neighborhoods.

Oh, and one more thing: get rid of the roundabouts! :)

craigers 13 years, 1 month ago

Thank you remember_username, Fangorn, and Kansas for your help. Now I will just have to see if the paper bags are worth the cost. Thanks again.

Fangorn 13 years, 1 month ago

I try to avoid driving on Mass whenever possible. When it is necessary and I need to turn left off of Mass, I nose into the intersection as far as I can and get as far left as I can (appreciate that last phrase, all you liberals, it's the only time you'll ever see me use it ;-)~ ). That way traffic behind me wanting to go through the intersection can usually get around me. Turn lanes would be nice, but there really isn't enough room for them. If a parking solution could be found, blocking vehicular traffic on Mass opens some interesting possibilities for downtown.

Hong_Kong_Phooey 13 years, 1 month ago

Extreme: Yeah, the teens from miles around come to downtown on the weekends. That's even more reason to close Mass. All they do is take up parking spots that could be used by people that are actually old enough to contribute some currency to the bar scene. Not only that, if you look remotely like you are close to their age, half of them try and start s*$t with you.

I'm all for closing Mass Street from 11th to 7th. Make it more like the 3rd Street promenade in Santa Monica.

Richard Heckler 13 years, 1 month ago

Block off parking on mass to all but wheel chair and people with walkers. Leave the 600 block and 1000 & 1100 blocks as is.

ms_canada 13 years, 1 month ago

I read the article in LJW about the PBS walk advocate's visit to Lawrence. What a coincidence. We have a group in our city trying to work out plans to make for a more walk friendly environment here. Not so easy in older areas of the city, but in the newer suburbs, long connected walk-ways are being constructed and it is wonderful to be able to walk in a traffic free environ. Can I tell you about our garbage arrangements. We are very recycle conscious here. We have 4 types of garbage. 1) the recycle which we take to a depot and get paid for each piece we take. 2) recycle stuff that we are not paid for which is collected each week.(newspaper, tin cans, glass bottles, plastic containers) This goes in a large BLUE plastic bag. 3) the compost type stuff, grass, leaves, garden and kitchen veg stuff. This goes in a lge. CLEAR plastic bag and 4) everything else that will go to the land-fill site. It can go in your small groc. bags. If you don't have something on this line, could your city hall be persuaded to instigate a system. I know where my sister lives in Montana, they recycle nothing at all. I might add that the system pays for itself. It works very well. fangorn - I am going to try to find those book ref. you gave. Thanks.

Fangorn 13 years, 1 month ago

I recycle everything I can. Every cubic meter we recycle is one less cubic meter into the land fill. And my daughter really enjoys sorting the plastic bottles when we go to the recycling center. Of course she also enjoys throwing glass into the containers and hearing the bottles break!

katethegreat 13 years, 1 month ago

I live close to downtown and walk almost everywhere. I love the darkness of Oread, and I love the brick crappy sidewalks. But not at the same time!
Walking in high heels is almost impossible. I can't see where I'm going and have fallen a number of times. There are so many cracks, holes, and inconsistancies that we never know what to expect. I have spent about $100 having heels fixed that have been shreaded by the brick sidewalks.

And forget walking on those sidewalks in high heels while intoxicated!

I'm not so sure about the roundabout at 19th and louisiana. How are ALL the students(Ku and LHS), pedestrians, people coming from out of town to see a game, and townies going to know how to use it properly? That seems like an awfuly busy intersection to have all that confusion.
I don't know if pedestrians have the right-of-way at roundabouts. Think of all those LHS students that will hold up traffic between 7-9am, and 2-4pm. Those are busy hours!!! I guess they already have the crossing guard...but they aren't there the whole time.

I love the roundabout at 19th and Barker. Perfect.

kutwitch 13 years, 1 month ago

The pedestrians in Lawrence need to be a little more intelligent and take some responsibility for their own safety. People need to understand that the free reign pedestrians have on campus does not extend to the entire city. People here think they can walk where ever, when ever they want. This same mentality somehow gives numerous bicyclist the idea that they can ride on city streets at night with no lights on their bikes. I don't know where some of these people are from but where I come from this behavior is reserved for the mentally challenged and the suicidal. The girl involved in this recent tragedy was from Olathe I belive and I challenge any of you to go to Olathe and see how many people are running across main streets at night. It seems to me that this cities quest to change as little as possible gives a lot of people the impression that Lawrence is smaller than it really is. There are some 80,000 odd people here and therefore there will always be drivers on the road and with a signifigant population of teenage drivers and inexperienced drivers from small towns many of the cars on the road don't know what they are doing even sober and in the light. The fact of the matter is that no matter what saftey measures the city takes if people are not will to be safe they will do no good. Crosswalks at traffic lights are available throughout the city but sometimes getting to after hours five minutes quicker is more important than being alive.

Liberty 13 years, 1 month ago

Have everyone exercise their 2nd amendment right to carry a firearm for self defense.

thermonuclearblackcat 13 years, 1 month ago

I have been saying for years now that the city needs to shut down traffic on Mass. In addition to bigger patio space (or patios at all for those restaurants that don't have them,) and better for foot traffic, think of the social possibilities. Many european cities (and some here in the states) have 'pedestrian zones' where they can have trees and festivals and kiosks and park benches... well, it's nice, and you have plenty of room to walk and i'm probably substantially less likely to get run over by that hummer that has the First Management logo on it. And all of those things are nice, and peaceful. Think about how much better it would be if that car who's car alarm won't stop going off the entire time you're trying to have you anniversary dinner was behind the block in some of the city's ample parking lots, and not twenty feet from your table. Or if you didn't have to hope there would be one of the two patio tables free at your favorite restaurant when you want to grab lunch with your well-behaved canine companian. Perhaps i'm just idealistic, but it seems that with Vermont and New Hampshire, in addition to all of the E-W streets, and our brand new parking garage, we can manage to walk the 5 blocks (maximum) to get to our cars. It'll be good for you!! You'll like it!! Just try it!!!

jonas 13 years, 1 month ago

sigh. . . nobody liked my trunk monkey.


opie 13 years, 1 month ago

Jodie was possibly the most wonderful person I have ever met. Her smile lit up rooms, hospitals, and lives. She will truly be missed more than could ever be explained.

I have never known a more perfectly caring and loving person who made lives around her infinetely better. Without trying, she gained the admiration and love of everyone she met through her strength and laughter.

She is missed so much now, and will continue to be forever.

squishypoet 13 years, 1 month ago

My mother uses a handicapped tag on our car. She doesn't need a wheelchair or a walker, yet, but she does use a cane, and even walking one block to her destination is a time consuming struggle. Asking her to walk a block BACK to the car AFTER she has used energy in whatever store/restaurant/what have you is close to cruel. For the young and healthy, I'm sure walking 5 blocks to a parking garage would be a viable option. However, there are a lot of people in Lawrence who need the easier access that Mass Street parking provides. All I can say is that I'm glad someone got smart a couple of years ago and put reserved handicapped parking spots in the middle of every block.

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