On Tuesday night several members of the Lawrence Complete Streets Committee and LiveWell Lawrence spoke before the City Commission, expressing their support for a plan that would add bike lanes on Ninth Street near downtown. The City Commission granted preliminary approval to a plan to add a center turn lane and two bike lanes to the stretch of Ninth Street between Tennessee and Kentucky streets.
Public works staff presented four options to the commission and cited adherence to Complete Streets principles as a primary rationale for their recommendation to approve the original plan. Commissioners said they favored an option that incorporated all elements of the original plan while also allowing for three public parking spaces, voting 4-1 in favor of that option.
All commissioners voiced support for the Complete Streets policy during the discussion. Options that did not add bike lanes on both the north and south sides of Ninth Street were given little consideration during the hearing.
Approval was preliminary because the plan calls for widening a portion of the street about eight feet to the south, an option that would require an easement for the road. Todd Thompson, a local attorney who owns a law office sitting on the Ninth Street property, said he would consider donating the property but would first need more details from the city.
Charlie Bryan, community health planner at the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department and facilitator of the Lawrence Complete Streets Committee, addressed the commission and provided a historical perspective of the Complete Streets movement in Lawrence. Several other members of the committee also spoke in favor of adopting an option consistent with Complete Streets principles, as did LiveWell Lawrence chair Susan Johnson, of Kansas State Research and Extension in Douglas County.
The project allows for both an eastbound and westbound bike lanes to be located on the one block stretch of street. Under this plan the eastbound bike lane would not continue in either direction (west of Tennessee or east of Kentucky streets), but both complete streets advocates and the Commissioners said it was important to build these lanes now while the opportunity existed to incrementally build cycling infrastructure near downtown.
Commissioner Mike Dever voted against the plan, opting instead for a design that creates a bike lane starting on the block just west of Tennessee and eliminates one of the two eastbound lanes of traffic for vehicles. Like the plan that was approved, this optional plan also is consistent with Complete Streets principle, and one member of the Complete Streets Committee spoke specifically in favor of this option because of its clearer alignment of bike lanes.
Complete Streets is an initiative of LiveWell Lawrence and is facilitated by the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department. Contact Charlie Bryan at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.