Dangerous streets isolate our neighborhoods, harm businesses and the economic vitality of our city, lead to unhealthy and inactive lifestyles, injure our friends and family members, and lower the quality of life for all Little Rock residents. Diane McConnell's crash on Saturday, November 10, serves as another line on a tragically long list of events showing that our streets can be hostile to anyone choosing to travel by bike or on foot.
- Director of Little Rock Public Works
- Little Rock Traffic Engineering Division Manager
Little Rock has become a major destination for cyclists in recent years thanks in large part to the success of the growing River Trail system. However, away from the river and outside of a few of our parks, painfully little has been done to make our city streets safe and welcoming for people who ride bikes. The crash involving Diane McConnell on Kavanaugh Boulevard on Saturday, November 10, 2012, serves as a stark reminder that our transportation network can be quite hostile to those who choose to ride or walk instead of drive.
There are many important steps that can and eventually must be taken to make Little Rock a place in which residents have meaningful transportation choices. In the short-term I ask that the City of Little Rock install shared lane markings (sharrows) starting at the intersection of Kavanaugh and McKinley, along Kavanaugh to Markham, along Markham and 3rd Street to M.L.K., around the Capitol and onto Capitol Avenue through downtown to Ferry Street. A portion of this route is likely the same route that Diane was taking as she rode home from the Pop-Up Main Street event on Saturday and represents one that brings many residential, commercial, employment, cultural, and educational areas of our city closer together.
One-way distance: roughly 6.25 miles; round trip: 12.5 miles.
Total number of sharrows required at 200’ spacing: minimum of 330. More may be necessary in certain areas.
Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices recommended dimensions: 111” tall x 39” wide
Placement guidelines: follow the MUTCD. Do not install in the parking lane or door zone.
Numerous people in the Heights, Hillcrest, Capitol View/Stift's Station, downtown, and other neighborhoods nearby already ride bikes in significant numbers, but bad conditions on the road keep countless others from joining them. Improving the route with sharrows will immediately provide a safer way for residents to travel within their neighborhoods and to other parts of our city. Bike-friendly places encourage economic development, not only by attracting businesses, employees, and residents but also through other means: people who go about their daily business by bike tend to have more money to spend (because of lower transportation costs) and tend to shop locally; some of the land currently wasted as parking lots can be redeveloped into higher and better uses; healthcare costs go down; and cities that promote biking and walking are able to spend their limited funds more wisely because adding capacity for people on bike is much less expensive than adding capacity for people in cars.
Much has been said about making Little Rock a bike-friendly city, but very little has actually changed on the ground. Diane loved riding her bike and eagerly shared her passion with others. I hope that she is able to make a full recovery soon and once again see her quality of life enriched by incorporating a bike into her daily activities. I also hope when she makes her recovery that the City of Little Rock will have already taken meaningful action to ensure that she and others are able to safely make the choice to ride a bike on our city’s streets, whether for pleasure or for transportation. Please begin by installing sharrows from the west end of Kavanaugh to the east end of downtown.
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