Friday, April 22, 2016

River Trail Results-Riverfront Dr., Rockwater

Thanks go out to Chris Wilbourn, NLR Chief Engineer and Traffic Director, along with Chief-of-Staff Danny Bradley, the NLR Traffic Department, and Alderman Charlie Hight for their help in reclaiming a little pavement for riders along Riverfront Road near the Broadway Bridge.
There are no villains in this story, but we will need to continue to work together and be alert to encroachments along the trail.

Chris shared these photos of the new realignment:

 Much Better!

In addition to moving the barrels, the Traffic Department painted dashed lines on the pavement to indicate the proper alignment for Massman Construction crews when they are not actively working in the area. They also cleaned the area with blowers and will make a pass with a street sweeper when they are in the area.
This was done for the sake of rider safety, and is very much appreciated.

KEEP IN MIND: This is still a construction zone and we will lose the buffer from time to time as the bridge project progresses. Respect any barriers or warnings that may appear. It is for your safety and the safety of the workers. 

Chris related a story of a rider who recently ignored a barrier and rode though a wet stamped concrete crosswalk repair near Rockwater. That kind of action does not endear the cycling community to the folks to whom we go to for support.

On the subject of Rockwater.....

During an open house at Rockwater Marina last fall it was reported that the River Trail was blocked by parked cars at its intersection with Rockwater Blvd . Chris has discussed that situation with the Rockwater Marina principals and they will work to prevent that from happening at future events.

There will always be some minor conflicts when a wide range of activities take place on a shared resource like the Arkansas River Trail, but most people want to do the right thing.

Thanks again to the folks in the NLR city government, Massman Construction, and at Rockwater. The River Trail is a valuable resource that we can all enjoy through cooperation.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Along The Trail- NLR Broadway Bridge Site Detour, Felonious Drivers, and Unusual Trail Area Traffic

One year ago, I posted an article regarding the safety issues created by Massman Construction's closure of the River Trail at the Broadway Bridge and the resulting detour onto Riverfront Drive. I had met with Chris Wilbourn, City Engineer, Danny Dillon, alderman Charlie Hight, and the mayor's chief of staff Danny Bradley to help explain the dangerous situation from a cyclists point-of-view. The City quickly went to work to improve the confusing signage and to re-position the dreaded orange barrels along the eastbound lane in a manner that would provide cyclists with a bit of a lane headed east. The speed limit was reduced in the construction zone and a radar sign was put in place for a short period of time. The improvement was immediate.

There is no shortage of signage on the approach to the construction zone.

This is the lane alignment as agreed upon and as implemented last spring. This is still in place west of the bridge.
This is the situation as of Monday night between the work site and the entry to Riverfront Park.

 Since that time, Massman has regularly moved the barriers out in order to create more room for construction activities; sometimes realigning them, but usually leaving them near the lane dividing line. Over the winter, the lane was narrowed and remains so. Riders are once again forced into the single traffic lane, where I would guess the average vehicle speed to be about 45-MPH. I've never seen a hint of enforcement in the area. In addition, the area is often littered with sand and gravel from the job site. It appears that the area has been swept of most of this material pretty recently; except immediately adjacent to  the barriers where cyclists must ride to avoid drawing the ire of drivers or running the risk being run down.
Even as I started putting together this article, a local ride group complained about the situation on social media after being buzzed by a speeding driver, and they reported having contacted the mayor's office. I contacted the city engineer who had previously helped with problems in the area and received a promise that he would get with the mayor's office to follow up.

 I expect that we will get some resolution, if only temporarily.

Delays of the Broadway Bridge replacement project have only put off the inevitable mayhem that will result when the bridge is closed. At that time, I expect the screams of thousands of commuters will drown out our small voice at city hall.

As is usually the case, everyone is simply acting in their own best interest. It is inconvenient for Massman to maintain even the the narrow quasi-bike lane so they don't. Until now, the city has not received any recent push-back from the cycling community so it is most convenient for them to leave it alone. Polite input from NLR residents to their alderman or to the mayor's office often gets action.

Vehicular Assault On Pinnacle Valley and
 an Accident Involving Cyclist on County Farm Road

It was reported last week that a rider had been intentionally stuck by a vehicle on Pinnacle Valley Road. The rider escaped serious injury, but this is yet another example of the aggressive behavior of some residents of this area toward cyclists who share "their" road.
The vehicle was a white pickup with no license plates, likely a Ford. Other riders reported being verbally abused by the driver of a similar vehicle. Be alert and report incidents to the Pulaski County Sheriff's Department. The sheriff's department has promised increased patrols.

Another cyclist was hit by a car while riding west on County Farm Road. The driver ran a stop sign and had neither insurance nor a driver's license. The rider was luckily only bruised and pissed off. The bike was destroyed.

Driver's licenses and license plates seem to be in short supply in western Pulaski County.

On the lighter side...

While riding on the River Trail west of Burns Park this week I noticed a helicopter doing a couple of not-quite-touch-and-go's in the adjacent field.

Uh....on your left, please.

On approach for another pass.

You just never know what you will see along the trail.

For the sake of clarity, a telephoto lens was in use for the top photo and the helo stayed well away from the trail.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The Spring Classics-Bike Racing At Its Manliest:Paris-Roubaix

For most casual bike racing fans, the Tour de France is likely the only European pro cycling that is worth following, and even though it is one of the world's premier sporting events, enthusiasm among Americans is slight in the post-Lance era. With that, TV coverage of cycling in the USA has also waned.

Where the hard men reign 
The Spring Classics are one day races that are deeply rooted in the history of competitive cycling. Remember, there was a time when bike racing was a huge spectator sport worldwide. From the roads of northern Europe to the track in Madison Square Gardens, cycling as as big as NASCAR in its heyday.
Where leading contenders in the Tour often go for days at a time sheltered by their team as they drone through the predictable pattern of breakaways, the catch, and then getting the hell out of the way for  a frenetic final kilometer or two by the sprinters' teams, there is no hiding in the classics.
Here is a link to the last 14k of last week's Tour of Flanders where Fabian Cancellara battles with world champion Peter Sagan to the finish. This is bike racing at its pure best.

Race your bike on this! Cobbles of Paris-Roubaix
They are races of survival and glory. They a built of cobblestones, mud, cow shit, and pain, and the most revered among them is Paris-Roubaix. Ask a Belgian bike racing fan (that could just say "ask a Belgian". This is a country with dozens of daily bike racing publications) what the most important races of the year are, and you'll likely hear "Paris-Roubaix and Tour of Flanders".

Live Coverage this Sunday on NBC Sports!!

Remarkably, this will likely not appear in their programming guide, but NBC Sports will cover Paris-Roubaix this Sunday at 8:00AM. My Comcast guide shows Premier League Soccer at that time, with a 3-hour rebroadcast of Paris-Roubaix at 3:00PM.

Check this out: Paris Roubaix 1988