Thursday, September 27, 2012

Trail Link Near BDB: Closed By The Corps

Sharp-eyed reader Chuck Hitt sent me this photo taken from the BDB east ramp, along with an inquiry asking, "What the hell?!"  Well, I paraphrased that, but I appreciate Chuck's sending the photo. This little strip of asphalt allowed riders to avoid the congested area at the foot of the BDB and to jump between the dead-end road serving the dam and the River Trail. While some of us have poked fun at its size as a measure of Little Rock's commitment to trail improvement, in reality, it was a very good thing and greatly enhanced the safety of the trail intersection. There has been some temporary fencing across the road, which I assumed was there to accommodate construction traffic for the west BDB ramp, but on Wednesday, we noticed these more substantial barriers. An inquiry to Bryan Day, Asst City Manager, resulted in this information from Mark Webre:

"Corps of Engineers’ staff at Lock and Dam #7 has had numerous close calls with cyclists.  Corps management has decided to minimize their exposure to this liability and have moved those barriers to that passage way.  They further requested that that passage way be removed and a fence be put up to prohibit cyclists taking access off the trail onto their drive way.  Eventually, they will be building a gate just west of the BDB congestion area to ensure no further access onto their drive way.

I did point out that vehicle/cyclist collisions still exist east of this, but their response was at least they are minimizing their risks to some degree.

I can try to improve access around congested area by working with Corps in moving the gate location back some to the west.  I will keep you all posted on that progress."

So, don't blame Little Rock for this deal. They are trying to support us and will work with the Corps to try to retain a similar crossover a little further to the east. It appears that LR's options will be dependent upon the C of E's cooperation.

Thanks again to Chuck, Bryan, and Mark.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Emerald Park Trail Construction

I've received several inquiries about the temporary closure of the Emerald Park trail and the construction going on there. It is to facilitate a paved link from Emerald Park to the overlook area at the east end of Fort Roots.

From Kate Finefield, NLR Parks ranger:

Here is the official word from the Parks Director:

" The Emerald Park trial from the east end where the asphalt ends to the Martha Smith Overlook where the asphalt begins will be closed for the next two to three months depending on weather.  Another grant was received from the state highway department to pave the trail. The trail will be called the Highland Trail.  Most of the trail is being rerouted to make it ADA accessible. The old trail bed will be available when completed for off road bicycles and hikers. 

Also later this fall work will be done on the River Trail and some of the off shoot trails on the North Little Rock side of the river.  Most of the areas impacted are where tree roots and erosion are causing asphalt failure. Their will be intermittent closures of sections of the trail.  We will do our best to keep you notified of such closure via email and signage.  Please pass along the information to your club members, customers and friends. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Big Dam Bridge 100: Ready To Ride?

The BDB100 is expected to grow to over 2500 riders in 2012, its seventh year. The inaugural ride on October 1, 2006, hosted ~1200 against a declared limit of 1000, as I recall, after all of the entries were tallied. The roll-out for that ride began near the Burns Park soccer fields and made an immediate hard right turn onto the River Trail as riders streamed excitedly toward the newly opened Big Dam Bridge for a loop around the city. After heading back downtown and crossing the river again, we headed west up the River Trail toward Maumelle and the open road. Riders showed remarkable composure in those early giddy miles of the ride, as we were all aware of the dangers of over 1000 cyclists crossing the narrow wooden bridge in Burns Parks and the other sharp curves of the trail virtually en masse. I know that I breathed a sigh of relief when we all got safely past that bridge!

 Fall of 2006 was an exciting time for cyclists in Central Arkansas.

Since that time, the popularity of cycling has grown in Central Arkansas along with the ride. The route of the BDB100 has evolved with the opening of Two Rivers Bridge, making it practical to send riders over the Arkansas River at Toadsuck near Conway and to add the pain of a climb up Wye Mountain at about the 60 mile mark. All of that makes for a challenging ride, though as I was told early in my still-short riding career, any time that you ride 100 miles on a bicycle, you've done something pretty hard.

So, how do you approach a 100 mile ride?
 Most of my readers have done at least as many centuries as I have, so I'm not breaking any news to most of you. In my first few years of riding, long rides were the norm, either on some event ride or just heading out on the road with my neighbor Darwin who just had a penchant for riding long.  Event rides are different than just heading out with your buddies, and some have more of a race feel than others. For many riders in the BDB, specific time goals have been set and plans are being made, and even the most casual rider will be looking for the clock as they approach the finish line on NLR's Main Street.
Here are a few simple things that might help you cut a few minutes off of your time:

 - Before the ride- clean and lube your bike. Check that all bolts are tight. Look your tires over carefully and replace any that look questionable. Check the contents of your flat bag. I know I'm not the first rider to stop to fix a flat, only to remember that I had used a CO2 to help somebody out months earlier. My little bag will contain two tubes, powdered in talc for ease of mounting and wrapped in plastic wrap, three CO2 cartridges, inflator, tire levers, 4,5,and 6 mm hex wrenches, and the universal fixit, money.

The contents of your set bag should be carefully selected and thoughtfully packed.

- If you're riding with a club or a group of friends, know the capabilities of the group and be realistic.  If you're a 6 hour century rider, don't expect your faster buddies to hang around. If you expect to ride a 5-hour pace, don't promise your slower friends that "we'll stick together". It just won't happen. A canny rider trying to make good time shouldn't be expected to drop off of a fast pack to hang with somebody who is flagging 20 miles into the ride unless a blood oath has been sworn. The same often goes for early flats or mechanicals. If it's you that breaks down, just fix your stuff and adopt another pack.

-Get out of town! The power of a large peloton is amazing. Take advantage of the big early packs to make miles early in the ride by going out as fast as you can without compromising the rest of your ride. It doesn't do much good to rock through the first 20 miles only to blow up at mile 40.

-Skip the early rest stops. This ties into the "Get Out of Town" advice above in that you want as many riders as possible/practical behind you. By getting out ahead of a large number of riders, you increase your chances of catching an optimum group coming by as you make stops or fade later in the ride.
You should have started the ride well-fueled and hydrated, so there's usually no reason to even consider a stop before 30 miles. Exceptions to this rule can include, "I've absolutely got to pee" and "I know this stop has really good cookies", but make all stops short. Fill bottles, grab some easily digestible solid food, and get moving. You don't really get any rest at these stops, you just get stiff legs to suffer through when you get back on the road. I seem to have fallen into a bit of a pattern of making two stops, the first at around mile 50 and another at mile 80. A good stop is less than 5 minutes if you're serious about making time.

 A big event is not the time to experiment with food. Stick with what is proven to work for you.

-Carry most of the nutrition that you expect to need. This usually includes includes drink mix for me. I carry at least one single-serving Gatorade packet with me if I'm unsure what's going to be available on the route. You can pack your own in a snack-size Ziploc.  Most of the stops at the recent Ride MS event were stocked with blue Powerade, which rates just this side of warm piss in my book. The BDB stops are usually well-stocked, but it pays to be prepared to take care of yourself.  I also carry a couple of bars and a handful of gel packs or a flask. A gel flask makes it much easier to get some food down in a pace line. This strategy allows you to choose your stops based on the wishes of your group. It sucks to be rolling along in just the right bunch, only to have to make a forced stop for food. If you're serious about making time, a third water bottle in a jersey pocket can extend your early ride range. I sometimes take a bottle that is about to go to the recycle bin, anyway, and toss it at that 50-mile stop.

The fast riders that really race the course and chase a 4-hour time won't stop at all, usually arranging some kind of support to at least hand up water bottles. A few guys do it on what they can carry, but most folks will need more hydration than can be carried.

Whether you're trying to make your first sub 5-hour century or just want to take a few minute off of last year's time, a little strategy can help you avoid some common time killers for any pace. It's frustrating to come in at 5:10 while thinking back on that 15 minutes that you spent milling around at mile 30. Some folks enjoy a casual ride and a pause at every aid station, but I'd rather get it done, get out of my sweaty bibs, and then enjoy a cold IPA on Main Street as later riders stream in.

Get ready and then enjoy the ride. I'll see you out on the road.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Little Rock Bike Friendly Efforts: Are The Wheels Coming Off?

Things are not going too well in Little Rock's struggle to achieve "Bike Friendly Community" status with the League of American Bicyclists. I've reported here several times about the efforts of the LRBFCC to help the city identify and resolve challenges in meeting the League's criteria for "Bike Friendly" status, such as adopting a "complete streets" policy, and in encouraging the city to make improvements to bike infrastructure, most notably, completing the River Trail loop in the area of Dillard's and the Episcopal Collegiate School. The committee is chaired by Ed Levy and includes a broad representation of the cycling community ranging from long-time activists like Gene Pfiefer and Ken Gould to younger enthusiastic and energetic types like Aly Signorelli and Mason Ellis. I don't mean to slight anybody in between, but I'm not going to search up the list of committee members! Let it suffice to say that there are many names that LR area cyclists will recognize as people who get things done.Therein lies the rub. The committee have met month after month, mostly rehashing the same issues because nothing is getting done. City leadership has broken promise after promise and, when pressed, simply renews the same promises only to break them again.
The committee recently suspended meetings after voicing their discontent to Mayor Sodola and Assistant City Manage Bryan Day. Aly has also cancelled the Bike Fair scheduled for this month for which she was the primary organizer. 

The major points of frustration include, among others:

The hiring of a bike-pedestrian coordinator for the city. It was reported to the committee many months ago that the position had been approved and funded, yet a job description has not been written and the job has not been posted. Assistant City Manager Bryan Day took responsibility "just not getting it done" for a few months, then the reasons just got fuzzy.

Adoption of a Complete Streets plan: Ken Gould invested a great deal of time in researching and drafting a policy for review and adoption by the city as an ordinance. After a few months of back-and-forth, the proposed ordinance was reduced to a proposed resolution and watered down with exclusions and exceptions to the point of irrelevance. Granted, the plan in either form would have to be approved by the City Board of Directors, and there would likely be some compromises required to satisfy developers and other stake-holders but, to my knowledge, the plan has never been introduced to the board in any form. I'm not sure whether Mayor Stodola is afraid to ask or if there is simply a lack of sincerity in endorsing the proposal. A Complete Streets Policy is a key component of any serious effort to achieve Bike Friendly Community status.

Temporary Trail Improvements at Episcopal Collegiate School on Cantrell Road:
Early in the summer, shortly after a rider and a car collided in the driveway of ECS as the cyclist attempted to negotiate this so-called river trail section, city officials at a LRBFCC meeting promised that as a temporary measure the sidewalk in front of the school would be widened and the driveway crossing modified to allow for greater visibility. There was a commitment made that this project would be completed "before school starts". Mayor Stodola reiterated that promise at a BACA meeting as he lobbied for support for the recently-passed millage proposal. Nothing happened. Then there was a commitment made that construction would commence before school starts. Then, nothing happened.

The elephant in the kitchen in all of these discussions is the need to provide a viable and permanent solution to completing the gap in the River Trail loop that exists along Cantrell Road. While the river Trail is heavily used as a recreational resource, it is also a vital  hub for cyclists attempting use bikes as transportation, as it serves as a connector for West Little Rock, Maumelle, Midtown, downtown Little Rock, and all of North Little Rock. The impediments are both practical and political. This stretch is intensely developed, geographically small and is further limited by the presence of the Union Pacific Railroad right-of-way and the Arkansas River. Railroads are notoriously protective of their rights-of-way and the river isn't likely to move or compromise. The political side of the puzzle involves the Stephens family interest in the Collegiate School on the south side of Cantrell and Dillard's on the north. Solving this impasse is going to involve some creativity and some political will, the latter of which seems to be in very short supply in Little Rock. I would suggest that it could be a "win-win" scenario for the backers of ECS and Mayor Stodola to work out an arrangement for the trail to pass by the school. It would be a gesture of community-mindedness on the part of the Stephens group and it would allow the city to fulfill long-made and oft-repeated promises. The City of LR has been sitting on $1,000,000 in funding allocated by the state legislature several years ago for completion of the trail and the medical community largely raised the private funding for the Medical Mile from the River Market area, but the City government seems unable or unwilling to take it from there.  Bicycle and pedestrian transportation infrastructure is proven to improve a city's perceived quality of life and to attract young, educated, employable people, so this is not just about recreation; it is a prudent business plan and Little Rock seems to be squandering the opportunity to move forward with a progressive and modern system of non-automotive transportation. It is time for the leadership of the City of Little Rock to either get serious or simply tell the cycling community to fuck off if that is their position. Most folks would rather get the kiss-off than be strung along with insincere promises and those little romantic visits at election time.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Bike MS Rock'n'Hot Ride

The MS150 is the well-recognized name for events across this great land of ours. You can Google "MS150" and find rides in virtually any state. I was preparing to whine slightly about the fact that the local version of the ride was actually 158 miles and that organizers seem to keep tacking on a few bonus miles until it was brought to my attention that the event had been rebranded "Bike MS". I guess that means that they can just have their way with us on miles, which is probably OK. Besides, I looked at the website for the hugely popular MS150 Austin and found that it is 180 miles! Either the miles are bigger in Texas or they add a 100-mile Saturday to an 80-mile Sunday and get 150, perhaps as a result of the flawed text books they seem to favor down there. The Rock'n'Hot Ride to Hot Springs and back last weekend was blessed with great weather, skies breaking clear and blue with a cool north wind after overnight storms and a week of sweltering weather, and the atmosphere was laid back, as usual. I didn't get the final count, but there were 140-150 riders at the start of the 2-day event- a mass start, but not massive, making it comfortable for just about anyone.

Diane was "representin' " in this start-area photo. Diane and I rode for Team Garver, along with Mark Wyatt, Sarah Miller, and team captain David Gambill.
The bunch immediately crossed the Clinton Park Bridge, which allowed a little time for legs to warm up before hitting the open trail. In the case of the little pack of friends that I was riding with, we got an early break as one of our group flatted before getting across the bridge. He did not improve his standing when he declared that he'd noticed the tire was low but had "aired it up in the parking lot". In an effort to protect my friend and prevent him from gaining a reputation for mechanical ineptitude, I will refer to him by the pseudonym of "Mr. Jones".  After a quick tire change for Mr. Jones, we set off in pursuit of the 136 riders who had passed us. As we slowly gained ground, passing first groups of moderately fit riders on town bikes, then working our way on up through the food chain of faster riders. We caught Diane's group and passed them as they casually chatted on their approach to the BDB. I think their conversation and giggling somehow related to a group of guys that they had passed frantically changing a tire a the foot of the Clinton Park Bridge.

Ride mates Sam, Tom, and Dumas on the open road.

The route was a good one, taking a familiar route west through Two Rivers Park and out Barrett & Garrison Roads to Ferndale. After going out Kanis Rd. to Paron, things get a little fuzzy. Except for a short stretch of Hwy. 5, I had no idea where we were.

The roads were lightly traveled and rural, with plenty of narrow, unstriped chip-and-seal, but it was very pleasant  There were no major climbs, nor was it flat, with rolling hill followed by rolling hill for mile after mile.
Diane and her new friend Joan were all smiles when they arrived at the Hot Springs Transportation Depot, having their ride and stops at every support station. The time I spent awaiting their arrival was well-spent with a massage and a couple of Diamond Bear Pale Ales.
At the Arkansas MS Rides, Ricky "Cigar Man" Skaggs is very popular, as he brings boxes of good cigars and the Diamond Bear. My relationship with cigars is a bit like that of the 10,000 Harley-Davidsons that were in Hot Springs for a rally. I like them just fine until they fire a bunch of them up.
Little Rock rider Kris French transporting a friend's bike to the hotel after a visit to the cigar man.
We were not the only bikers in Hot Springs. This was the parking scene all over downtown, and a few thousand constantly cruising Harleys made for a really noisy environment. Nothing against the bikers, but many MS riders complained about a lack of sleep.
Joan and Diane complementing their finisher's medals with a pale ale. It's a nice color match of awards for a job well done.
The ride to Hot Springs was great but it will likely move back to Petit Jean, as the motorcycle rally is an annual event that coincides with the MS dates. The MS150 rides from Mather Lodge at Petit Jean State Park have been among my favorites over the years, and the lodge has been recently renovated.  Put the MS ride on your radar for this time next year. It is a great cause, a rewarding ride, and very good way to put some miles on your legs before the BDB100.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Changing Lanes: The Broadway Bridge Replacement

As almost all of you are certainly aware, there has been a great deal of discussion about the replacement of the Broadway Bridge spanning the Arkansas River between the downtown areas of Little Rock and North Little Rock. There was a proposal backed by the mayors of both cities to build a new bridge at a location upstream in order to avoid the traffic mayhem of an extended bridge closure. There have been public comment periods, meetings, design contests, and letters-to-the-editor waxing eloquently about the values of a creative design and the opportunity to create an iconic structure that would help define our city. After all of the chit-chat we're pretty much back to the original proposal- a utilitarian plate girder bridge. While I hesitate to say that such a design defines our city, it does pretty much define the role of the Arkansas Highway and transportation Department, the controlling entity in this project. The AHTD's focus is on building a functional structure designed to move as many motor vehicles possible as rapidly as possible, with the shortest disruption of traffic and at the least cost.

We won't be getting anything like the Golden Gate Bridge here in Central Arkansas. AHTD

The time has passed for influencing the basic design of the bridge. The AHTD has steadfastly stood by its original plans with little flexibility and the federal dollars allocated to the project require a timely start. i won't attempt to revisit that discussion, but the plans are pretty much complete for construction to begin in 2013.

Last minute lane change?

The new bridge does include a mixed use lane for cyclists and pedestrians. I will describe it as "better than nothing", and it is the minimum width allowed by federal standards. It will be 16' wide and will be intended to carry cyclists and pedestrians traveling in both directions. As our center-city attracts population and the demand for alternative transportation grows, this accommodation will hopefully become woefully inadequate. The design of the entry and exit ramps for the new bridge are designed for a high speed flow and merging of traffic. Likely good for cars traveling at 40+ MPH, but that same arrangement has been referred to as a "kill zone" for cyclists attempting to avoid mixed traffic in the bike-ped lane and navigate the traffic lanes of the new bridge.

The transportation planners at Metroplan have requested that the AHTD expand that lane to a minimum cross-section of 20' or, preferably, a 25' cross-section. Metroplan
A 20' cross-section would allow for bike lanes in each direction, though the lanes would have no physical separation from pedestrians. The 25' cross-section would allow cyclists and pedestrians to be separated by a barrier or by rumble strips. Metroplan

The added width to the bike-ped lane is likely to cost a couple of million dollars; not chump change, but it should not be a deal-breaker for a key transportation link that should serve us for a half-century or more. Central Arkansas should have at least one viable bicycle-pedestrian link crossing the river downtown if we are ever reach the goal of being bike-friendly. This is about transportation and the AHTD plan lacks vision when it comes to non-motorized modes of transport. Look at most of the great cities of the world and you will see cities that embrace cycling, walking, and public transportation as an alternative to driving across town to Walmart.

Here's where you come in....
There is a public comment period on the AHTD's website that will accept your comments until September 25. Click here to access the form. Most of the questions on the form have been settled, but you can scroll down and check Pedestrian/Bicycle Facilities and then have your say.
Here are some key talking points from Metroplan:

·         -The bridge is located in an high traffic, mixed use, densely populated urban setting that will increase in popularity (Dickey Stephens Park, ART, Robinson Auditorium, Riverfront Park)

·         -Cycling commuting will become more popular in the future with the development of more urban housing and trail systems.

·        - The proposed 16’ wide mixed pedestrian and cycling (wheels and heals) section is too small for the amount of traffic that will use the bridge now and especially in the future

·        - Serious cyclists and commuters will avoid this mixed use corridor and ride in the vehicle traffic lanes.

·         -The new proposed bridge will have wider lanes and wider turning lanes that will facilitate faster vehicular traffic (>40 mph) and cause more vehicle/cyclists accidents.

·         -A 25’ divided pedestrian/cycling section is the best solution because it physically separates wheels and heels. This will allow for cyclists to travel safer and reduce user conflicts with non cyclists.

·         -A minimum of 20’ pedestrian/cycling section is an alternative, but does not segregate cyclists from pedestrians and will create conflicts during peak usage.

·        -The bridge design should allow for pedestrians and cyclists to access the ART easily.

If I'm being a bit of a shill for Metroplan here, it is because I feel that they are better representing the interests of the cycling community than the AHTD. The AHTD is a constitutionally independent agency; a status that insulates them from undue political pressure but one that can also make them aloof and insulated from the will of the people.  
Let's at least let them hear from us. It is not beyond the realm of imagination to believe that we can be a voice of change. Let them hear from you.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Three Simple Rules

A couple of weeks ago, I was meeting Rob Stephens for lunch. Rob is the chairman of the Arkansas River Trail Task Force and is an advocate of "Leave No Trace", in addition to his other volunteer activities. We swapped a couple of e-mails setting up lunch and during the course of that exchange, Rob asked me to come up with three simple suggestions to reduce conflict on the River trail. I responded with three very sensible suggestions like, "jerk out the earbuds of the oblivious runner who stepped in front of you in spite of repeated warnings". Well, that was one of my less sensible suggestions, actually, for avoiding conflict, but I will admit that the suggestions were less succinct than what Rob was looking for. As I cruised the River Trail that evening, I did manage to come up with 3 simple rules that I think pretty much cover safe, appropriate trail behavior.

Be Alert.
Be Polite.
Stay Right!

 I believe that those suggestions are simple enough that kids will be able to teach them to their parents.

I also volunteered Willie to be the official spokesdog. In addition to the 3 simple rules, Willie can advise dog owners of things like, "Don't kid yourself. I'm going to poop on the bridge. Take a bag."Willie is full of sensible ideas and, yes, he would poop with certainty on the bridge.

Monday, September 3, 2012

River Trail User's Survey: Some Numbers Are In

The Arkansas River Trail Task Force recently enlisted UALR to conduct a survey of trail user. I received partial results of the survey and, while interesting, the responses that I was given access to contained little in the way of surprises. The fact that I only saw the results of the survey participants who logged in through JBar Cycling probably has much to do with the predictability of the views expressed. At 206 respondents, JBar Cycling readers represented the largest group of survey takers, followed by the Little Rock Marathon training group. It is safe to say that the vast majority of the folks who read this blog and who would respond to the survey are cyclists who regularly share the River Trail, and that position was verified within the results. After gathering some basic demographic information such as gender, age, etc, trail users were asked to respond to questions regarding frequency of use, access points, most commonly used trail sections, purpose of trail use, etc.    After those questions, the structure of the questions became multiple choice, with answers quantified on a scale of 1-5, excellent to poor, or very important to not important, etc., depending on the question being asked.
While I was asked not to publish the survey results, I can give you some insights into the responses. Keep in mind that these are only the surveys that came through JBar Cycling.

78% of the survey takers were male.       It's obvious that I need to try to broaden the appeal of my blog! Perhaps I'll start a fashion feature.

94% lived in Central Arkansas

45% ride the RT 2-3 times per week
25% ride 4-6 times per week and 3% ride daily       Yep, these are my kind of folks!

For 64%, the average ride was 1-2 hours in duration.

97% reported that the River trail is VERY Important for the activity of cycling. 44% gave the same importance to running/jogging and 34% rated the trail as Very Important for walking/hiking.
Other activities included in this question included rollerblading, pet walking, horseback riding.
Ratings of the trail's importance to activities ranged from "Very important" to "Not Important" to "I Do Not Do This Activity". Cyclists obviously place a very high value on the River Trail.

86.4% used the trail for exercise and fitness training activities. Only 4% use the trail primarily for commuting. Again, keep in mind that most of my readers are recreational cyclists and that will be reflected in the responses.

When asked to identify most frequently ridden trail sections, 56% indicated that they ride the entire trail loop.

Cook's Landing was listed as the most popular access point at 30%. I was kind of surprised by that, but several other points got double-digit responses.

Here are some of the questions and somewhat filtered feedback:

How would you rate the Infrastructure/maintenance/operations of the trail in regard to the section of the trail you use most often?
Response to this question was mostly very good. The range of responses included:
Excellent  Good  Neutral  Fair  Poor
In combining the "Excellent" and "Good" responses,
"Riding surface" got 88% positive, and "Trail Grooming" rated 81% positive.
The biggest numbers in the "Fair" and "Poor" categories were "Availability of drinking water" at 36%,
and lighting at 26%. Most folks are either happy or neutral with the status quo.

How would you rate the safety and security along the trail in regard to the section of the trail you use most often?
Most folks felt the likelihood of vandalism, gang activity, reckless behavior by others, etc, to be no more likely on the RT than anywhere else. The perceived risks were vandalism and reckless behavior, both of which topped 30% in the "somewhat likely" column.
When asked about the safety of "Sharing the Trails With Others" 3.9%  responded "unsafe", while 38% thought it to be "no different than anyplace else", and 58% considered it "safe" to "very safe".

Based on these survey responses, I would give the River Trail a B+ in terms of user satisfaction among this user group.  

I considered the feedback to be very positive for the most part. After the demographic and multiple choice questions; however, came the opportunity to offer suggestion of improving the River Trail System. The responses to this question brought out all of the usual, well, suggestions for improvement, which could also be called "The complaints".  While the number and tone of some of these comments were disturbing to some of the folks reviewing the survey, they are the same complaints that we all vocalize and hear on a regular basis.
Here are some of the common complaints that were hit upon:
-Close the loop! A very popular suggestion to finish the Little Rock side of the trail system
-Pay attention, be courteous, watch your kids, shorten dog leashes.
-Walkers need to be more aware of their surroundings and not walk/stand/stop 4 wide blocking the trail.
-Some cyclists need to slow down in crowded areas. Be courteous.
-Too much dog poop.
-Goose poop
-Horse poop
(repeat all of the above several times)
-There were several call for more lighting in some areas, and concerns about late night groups gathering on the BDB.
- Cold water  (the survey was taken in the midst of a record heat wave!)
-There were calls for better signage, more security,  and better education of trail users.

I hope to be able to share all the the survey results at a future date, but I feel like this is a fair assessment of the information I was given. It will be interesting to see how the responses shift they are combined with those of runner groups and other trail users. While there will always be complaints about others in regard to any shared resource, most Arkansas River Trail users are a happy bunch and we get along pretty darn well in the big scheme of things.