Education

City launches traffic education campaign to go along with reduced speed limit and upcoming traffic enforcement | News, Sports, Jobs

photo by: Chris Conde

Lawrence City Hall is pictured in September 2018.

A new traffic campaign wants to encourage Lawrence drivers to think about more than just getting to their destination.

Lawrence residents have long voiced concerns about speeding in neighborhoods and some motorists’ disregard for pedestrians and cyclists, and a new City of Lawrence campaign hopes to help address the problem. On Monday, the city launched the Safer Neighborhood Speeds education campaign, which has a slogan of “It starts with us” and encourages drivers to slow down, look out for others and stop for people wanting to cross the street.

Engineering Program Manager Amanda Sahin said in an email to the Journal-World that more than 1,000 Lawrence residents helped determine the look and messaging of the campaign, which focuses on community-minded driving.

“This campaign slogan emphasizes our personal responsibility and accountability to each other and to the community,” Sahin said.

photo by: City of Lawrence

The city’s Safer Neighborhood Speeds education campaign includes yard signs, posters and stickers with three messages.

photo by: City of Lawrence

The city’s Safer Neighborhood Speeds education campaign includes yard signs, posters and stickers with three messages.

photo by: City of Lawrence

The city’s Safer Neighborhood Speeds education campaign includes yard signs, posters and stickers with three messages.

The campaign is part of the city’s Neighborhood Traffic Management Program, which combines educational messaging, traffic enforcement and traffic engineering measures, such as street design and other physical elements, to help improve safety. Measures include the city’s recent decision to reduce the speed limit on residential streets from 30 mph to 25 mph and an upcoming traffic enforcement effort conducted by the Lawrence Police Department.

As part of the education campaign, the city is distributing colorful yard signs, posters and reflective stickers with the campaign slogan and three messages: “We slow down for each other,” “We look out for each other” and “We stop for each other.” Sahin said the campaign was a critical component of the larger program, whose primary goal is improving the environment and quality of life in Lawrence neighborhoods through driver awareness and management and control of traffic on neighborhood streets.

Community organizations around town will be distributing campaign materials, and the city is encouraging residents to take part in the campaign as well. Individuals and groups in Lawrence can pick up free yard signs, posters and stickers at the East Lawrence Recreation Center, 1245 E. 15th St., the Holcom Park Recreation Center, 2700 W. 27th St., and Sports Pavilion Lawrence, 100 Rock Chalk Lane, according to a news release from the city. Residents can also sign up to be a “campaign ambassador” to help distribute materials to neighborhoods or other groups.

Sahin said ambassadors would be asked to help in various ways depending on their preferences, including posting on social media platforms, distributing materials to their neighbors or community groups, and assisting with campaign outreach in person.

The city hired Alta Planning + Design to help design and manage the campaign for a total cost of about $130,000. The contract included conducting community meetings to collect feedback about the campaign’s look and messaging as well as the design and production of the campaign materials. Sahin said the city has 1,200 yard signs, 300 posters and 1,500 stickers for distribution, plus the ability to print more if needed. There are also 30 vehicle magnets for city vehicles.

The education campaign is going on in conjunction with the other components of the program. The City Commission voted in October to approve an ordinance to reduce the speed limit on residential streets from 30 mph to 25 mph and to spend $220,000 for the design and installation of the approximately 1,000 signs. The city began installing 25 mph speed limit signs on neighborhood streets this month, and that process will continue through mid-February until all 1,000 signs are installed.

The program also includes $40,000 for traffic enforcement this year, which Sahin said would include a big push to enforce the new speed limit. Sahin said apart from patrol officers conducting traffic enforcement as time allows, dedicated enforcement would begin around Feb. 1 and go through the end of April. Sahin said various officers working on overtime would be dedicated to the effort and that the plan was to average about 20 hours of enforcement per week during the dedicated enforcement period, with hours decreasing to around 10 per week in May.

Residents can pick up the yard signs and other campaign materials from the three recreation centers during normal operating hours. Those interested in becoming ambassadors can fill out an interest form on the Neighborhood Traffic Management website, lawrenceks.org/safer-speeds/.