Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Little Rock City Board Kicks Complete Streets Down The Road

Led by the unlikely pair of city directors Lance Hines and Erma Hendrix, the Little Rock Board of Directors last Thursday voted to put off consideration of the proposed Complete Streets ordinance for at least 90-days.
Understand that the "Complete Streets" ordinance  is not just about bikes. The intent is to compel consideration of all users of the public streets when new streets are built or when significant reconstruction takes place.

WHEREAS, pursuant to Little Rock, Ark. Res. No. 13,675 (April 16, 2013), the Board of Directors 6 stated its desire to adopt a Complete Streets Policy, meaning a policy for all transportation improvement 7 projects within the City of Little Rock, including the construction and reconstruction of public roadways, 8 to accommodate all anticipated users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, public transportation users, 9 persons with disabilities, freight haulers, and motorists, and ......

Hines wants to give developers more time to chime in on what is already little more than a watered down resolution,while Hendrix is dead set against anything that has to do with bicycles. Hines does at least does likely have a constituency in the conversation, as most developers seem to react in knee-jerk opposition to anything that would impose additional standards, regardless of the benefit to the community or to their property values. That is understandable, though short-sighted in my view. Hendrix, on the other hand, has oddly decided that accommodations of any type that may benefit cycling are an affront to the African-American community. On the subject of bike lanes for Daisy Bates Drive:

"With it being named for a historic black woman, we don't want bike trails on that street. If I don't respect my color, who will?" Hendrix is quoted as saying.

She then steadfastly refuses to explain her position by saying, "I don't talk about bicycles."
I'm simply confused by her stance.

If you choose to follow the link above and read the proposal, one can see that the ordinance is without teeth and key facets are preceded with qualifiers like,
"As feasible, the City shall incorporate ......"The ordinance then includes a list of exceptions such as perceived excessive cost and possible low usage. In other words, there is not much in the proposal that the anyone can actually be held to, and Little Rock famously allows exceptions for just about any kind of development that comes along. A drive along the Highway 10/Cantrell Road corridor is a prime example of how Little Rock handles a good plan.From Imagine Central Arkansas The Highway 10 Scenic Corridor design overlay district is the result of visionary citizens in the 1980s making a great plan for the orderly development of Highway 10 in Little Rock (a/k/a west Cantrell Road). The goal is to keep this area pleasant for all those who travel it, whether they be residents or traveling to Pinnacle Mtn, Lake Maumelle, etc. It's the law in Little Rock (Code Section 36-343 through 36-348). Many of LR's current city planners, administrators and Board members ignore it, siding with developers by granting exceptions to the law.... 
Little Rock has been trying for several years to shape a Complete Streets policy that will be palatable to developers and, subsequently, to the City Board. One driver for adoption of the policy is that the City is striving to earn "Bicycle Friendly Community" status as awarded by the League of American Bicyclists. Little Rock has applied in each of the last several years and has garnered, at best, an honorable mention. Among the requisites are the adoption of a Bicycle Master Plan, which the City has done, and a Complete Streets policy.

For those who fear that adoption of such policies would be a hindrance to growth, I would point to the Arkansas cities that have earned recognition from the League. They are North Little Rock, Conway, Bentonville, and Fayetteville. I don't think that you could name another four cities in our fair State that have seen more positive development in recent years.
Little Rock continues to be stymied by a city government that thinks small and suffers from a lack of leadership. That's unfortunate, as we have had visionary leadership in both North Little Rock and Pulaski County governments in recent decades, while Little Rock seems satisfied to be pulled along for the ride.


Unknown said...

Daisy Bates never rode a bike?

JBar said...

Maybe Daisy had a bike and Erma didn't. That would explain a lot.