Thursday, February 28, 2013

Plan "B": Boatin', Brush Whacking, and Breakdowns

Just as I was getting all set to jump into the springtime mode of more flowers, fewer clothes, and longer rides, the still-winter weather pattern showed up with a few reminders that it is still February. Between cold days, rainy days, and cold, rainy days, my higher mileage ambitions for the month have shriveled like, well, whatever shrivels in cold wet environments.

Plan "B": The Cossatot
Last weekend actually shaped up pretty well once I got over my road ride fixation. Midweek rains topped off creeks and made for predictably good water levels on the Cossatot River in the Ouachita Mountains of western Arkansas. The Saturday forecast called for sunny skies, but windy with highs in the 40's-- a marginal day on the bike, but a great day for running rivers, so we packed up the pickup and headed out.

At the put-in, getting ready to saddle up!
The Cossatot was the best whitewater option for the weekend and boaters showed up from around the region. The dry conditions of the last couple of years have made for scant boating opportunities, so there was a big crowd at the 'tot.  Diane and I have been boating for many years, so days like this take on the feel of a family reunion. While riders can generally hit the road almost anywhere, boaters have to travel to wherever the water may be, so we tend to are a driving bunch. Boating friendships stretch across a wide geography and usually the only time we cross paths with one another is when we converge on a river.

Mandy 'Crash' Signorelli in the Esses

The Sandbar Bridge marks the approach to the Cossatot Falls.
For many years, I had been encouraged to take up cycling, particularly mountain biking, by some of my boating friends. There is a lot of crossover in terms of attitude, venue, and skill sets, though by definition running rivers is an all-downhill endeavor. Now that I've been riding few a few years, it is interesting to see cycling friends turning to boating, as is the case with Aly, Bryan, and 'Crash' Signorelli. They've been knocking around it boats for the last year or so, but Saturday was the first time I've seen them on the water. I was impressed but, then again, they have been hanging out with my old friend Cowper Chadbourn, which makes for a fast learning curve, assuming survival! Actually, Cowper doesn't hesitate to let folks get in a little over their head, but he always has your back, which makes for a safe experience and some very good stories.
 Cossatot Falls: JBar file photo from last spring.
The falls is a series of drops with names like Cossatosser, Eye Opener, BMF, and Washing Machine. If you blow the move in one of those, you'll likely flush through Whiplash and Shoulder Bone on your way to washing ashore at Dead Dog Beach.
One of the thrills of winter paddling on the Cossatot is that eagle sightings are likely.
As we approached the 'tot, Diane and I were betting on our likelihood of eagle sightings. She predicted that we would see one and I went for two. My odds were good because over the years it has been pretty common to see a pair of the impressive birds in the Devil's Hollow area of the lower river. We got out ahead of the crowd and, sure enough, right on schedule a mature bald eagle came up the river toward us below tree top level. A short time later, its mate was spotted soaring near the ridge line. Day complete.
Plan "B1": Trail work and mountain bike at Camp Robinson
I've got a short list of riders to whom I usually send out weekend ride plans.  This time of year, the responses can be as thin as the hide of my fair weather ride buddies, so it didn't surprise me that I did not have a crew for a Sunday road ride. Bike Nerd Justin Ray had e-mailed his plans to clear the Dogwood Trail at Camp Robinson so I checked my pack for the folding saw and loppers, grabbed a couple of treats for Willie dog, and headed out to Camp. Justin and I cut fallen trees, rerouted a little trail and cleared some sections that had been nearly reclaimed by brush and vines.
  Lower Dogwood Trail required some extensive rehab!
After a couple of hours of work, I decided that I needed to let Willie run and I wanted to get in a few miles. Justin had walked in so I left him to complete the mission while Willie and I headed up Elevator. Elevator is a sustained rocky climb which can be even more tedious than usual when it is buried under a blanket of leaves as it was last week.
About halfway up the climb, I was suffering more than even my winter legs deserved and finally had to dismount to seek the source of my problem. It was NOT simply  me being old and slow, but my rear hub was locked up. I didn't get too deeply into it out on the trail, but my rear wheel wouldn't even roll and I couldn't figure it out. Bummer. Willie, who is accustomed to running like the wind out on the trail, was impatient as I started trudging out with my impaired bike.
I half-assed tore the hub down once I got home, but then elected to reassemble and drop it at Arkansas Cycling and Fitness since I needed to be in Sherwood on Monday. My freehub had shot craps and the rear wheel bearings were trashed. The shop wrench said that this usually happened only with very large riders or guys who put out massive torque. Since even in my current winter-fat state I weigh in at around 157lbs, I'm going for the massive torque story. 
It was a good day for a walk in the woods and I was glad to join Justin in getting some work done. Dogwood is a good connector trail for accessing the lower loops at Camp Robinson and it was about a season away from being lost.
It is March as of Friday and we have more flowers showing up in our yard every day. Spring will be all over us soon enough and these Plan "B" days are not bad. Not bad at all.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Good Work Going On Along Both Sides of The River

There are positive developments for the cycling community underway in both Little Rock and North Little Rock, and much of the credit goes to volunteers who give their time and talent to make things happen for the rest of us.

In my most recent post, I made reference to some committees like the Little Rock and the North Little Rock Bike Friendly Community Committees and the Arkansas River Trail Task Force.

The ART Task Force is affiliated with Metroplan, which serves as a regional transportation planning resource. Metroplan views the Arkansas River Trail System not just as a recreational asset, but as a key component of a long-term plan for central Arkansas regional transportation development. Chair Rob Stephens got dragged into his position due to his passion for the Leave No Trace principles of outdoor ethics to which I believe he'd been introduced as a Boy Scout leader. I think Rob simply hoped see some kind of consistent message put in place for responsible use of the River Trail and soon found himself heading a committee and embroiled in the politics of cyclists, equestrians, and other trail user groups. That's what can happen when you show up with a problem and an opinion.You should be prepared to get drafted to help find a solution. 

The primary mission of the BFCC's is to help guide the cities through the process of earning Bike Friendly Community status from the League of American Bicyclists. North Little Rock earned Bronze level a couple of years ago and is now working for Silver, while Little Rock got "honorable mention" on its last application, so Little Rock is working hard to make the grade. Most cities do not earn the league's recognition easily--currently four Arkansas cities have earned the honor: Bentonville, Conway, Fayetteville, and North Little Rock. Unless the city is Boulder, Co, or Davis, CA, it can take years of effort to create a culture that is conducive to cycling. In the case of Little Rock, a stumbling block has been the lack of a "Complete Streets" policy. While it would seem simple enough for a city to declare that consideration must be given to cycling and pedestrian traffic when a street is built or goes through major repairs, such codes or ordinances must be approved by the Little Rock Board of Directors. Many developers and self-proclaimed "pro-business" interests decry anything that could smack of regulation or that could possibly add to the cost of urban expansion, so something like "Complete Streets" must survive a fairly high degree of scrutiny in a city like Little Rock. Several drafts of a complete streets policy have come out of the committee over the last couple of years and none have made it to the Board of Directors for consideration.

Nothing happens overnight in the world of public policy, but progress is made in small increments.

In Little Rock, Jeremy Lewno, owner of Bobby's Bike Hike, was recently hired as the city's bicycle/pedestrian coordinator. This position had been years in the making and is a big step in the BFC process. In his new role, the LRBFCC also decided that it would be appropriate for Jeremy to lead the committee. Long-time chairman Ed Levy supported the motion and Ed will remain as a committee member. Jeremy is already at work and has set up a Little Rock Bike /Ped Facebook page.
It was also announced that the Clinton Library, with support from the City of Little Rock, had replaced a gate east of the Presidential Center with a new structure that includes a bike bypass . Here's how Judy Lansky describes it:

Thanks Little Rock. The gate (formerly known as the horizontal bar) across the River Trail on the east side of the Clinton Center has been replaced with an actual gate & a space to the south of the gate has been paved for bicycle & pedestrian traffic. The space is plenty wide to safely accommodate bicycles. Because the streets to the east & south of the gate are lightly traveled by vehicular traffic, the simple opening of the bicycle space next to the gate effectively extends the River Trail to the airport & beyond to Frazier Pike, Terry Lock & Dam, etc. For those who haven't ridden Frazier Pike, there is so little auto traffic that it is like a dedicated bike trail &, though flat as a pancake, is quite scenic & tranquil. So how about putting in bike lanes starting at the gate and making the route to the airport a designated bike route.

In North Little Rock, Fit2Live Coordinator and BFCC co-chair Bernadette Rhodes has been working with the NLR School District, city planners and department heads, community leaders, and others to help create safe routes for kids to cycle or walk to schools. North Little Rock just started a massive project to rebuild virtually the entire school district infrastructure (10 new schools, several major renovations), so this is a perfect time to include transportation alternatives into long-range plans.  In addition, NLR has embarked on a campaign to raise awareness of the 3-foot safe passing law, even as work continues on the Levy River Trail Spur and plans progress for replacing the Shillcutt Bayou "wooden bridge".
The city has  also acquired a number of bike racks for installation around the city. If you're aware of a North Little Rock location that needs a bike rack here is an address to get in touch!
Contact: (501) 975-8777,

This has been a bit of a ramble, written over several days, and it kind of reflects how things get done for the benefit of the cycling community:
It takes a lot of work, some false starts, and quite often a lot of frustration, before anything actually happens. Much of the credit for progress goes to concerned folks who work on our behalf in between the demands of their real-life jobs and for no pay. When progress is slow, they often face complaints from the very people they are representing and when goals are achieved, they receive little more than a moment of satisfaction before moving on to the next challenge.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Change of Plans: Broadway Bridge and Cantrell Construction

Broadway Bridge Bike-Pedestrian Lane: We're Back to 16'

The story of the replacement for Little Rock's Broadway Bridge has been a long and convoluted one. Civic leaders called out for the new bridge to be an iconic structure that could serve to identify and shape our cities. Citizens were called upon to present their visions for the bridge, a design competition was held, and much lively discussion ensued.  The result of all of that posturing, planning and promoting was....well... nothing.
Ideas were plentiful! Action in short supply.
(respectfully poached from movearkansas blog)

The highway department wrote off the grand plans as being too expensive and presented a plan for a very basic utilitarian design. There was some push back from the cycling community and from Metroplan to expand the accommodations for cyclists and pedestrians from a 16' lane to at least 20', preferably 24', but that also went nowhere. That issue was addressed in this space back in September.
The AHTD was not really open to any change in plans and the neither Little Rock nor North Little Rock were forthcoming with any additional funding, so it appeared that plans were fixed.

And then along came Buddy!
Pulaski County Judge Buddy Villines seemed determined to make the new bridge a landmark, so he went to work and came up with incremental funding and a new design. The Judge has earned my respect with his dogged pursuit of such projects as the BDB and the Two Rivers Bridge, but we're not quite on the same page when it comes to the Broadway Bridge.
The good news was that the judge's plans were slightly more attractive than those of the AHTD and that the new design included a 20' lane for pedestrians and cyclists. Unfortunately, that plan also came with a red, white, and blue paint scheme that has received very little support and has been widely panned.
Now, we're finding that the 20' bike lane will NOT be included in the Judge's plan.
This from Randy Ort, AHTD

As for the Broadway Bridge Bike/Ped lane, a 16-foot wide lane is the current design. There were discussions about a 20-foot wide lane, and we were willing to include that in the design as long as another entity agreed to pay for the additional width. At the present time, that has not happened. It is my understanding that Judge Villines did believe that the bike/ped lane would be 20 feet, but he learned recently that was not the case. He confirmed the 16-foot width in a conversation with our Director, Scott Bennett, just this week.
Judge Villines responded to an e-mail from me this morning, acknowledging the change. His position was that in spite of his best efforts, the inclusion of the 20' lane was not possible without additional support from Little Rock, North Little Rock, and Metroplan. LR and NLR have shown little interest in providing additional funding.
I'm not sure where the ball was dropped, but this is a blown opportunity for our generation to shape the future of our city. A 20' lane would allow for bikes to be separated from pedestrians, making it a true transportation option.
This development is not the end of the world as we know it, but I would suggest that perhaps an improved alternative transportation option will have more value to future generations than will a faded red, white and blue paint scheme. It's all about the money.
The Metroplan Board meets at 10:00AM-Noon on Wednesday, February 27, and my understanding is that public comments are allowed at the end of the meeting. I don't know any details of the protocol, but if you have time and an opinion, it might be an interesting way to spend a couple of hours.
Smaller Scale Disappointment: Cantrell Road Trail Juncture
Another project on which there has been a lot of discussion and little action is the highway safety improvement project west the UP viaduct on Cantrell Road. This place has long been a point of contention among cyclists and this construction job has done nothing to improve things. At first, the AHTD allowed the contractor to close the River Trail during construction. Much hell was raised, BACA got with the highway department, and a temporary fix was put into place to allow use of the trail.
Among other things, I kept hearing reference to the trail being re-connected to the sidewalk by way of a "sweeping turn" designed to make this very sketchy place slightly less dangerous.
No sweeping turn here! Just another right angle on to a narrow sidewalk. The newly poured permanent approach appears to the left in this photo.
I have been assured that the sweeping turn talk was not my imagination, so once again I turned to Randy Ort of the AHTD:
Regarding the River Trail connection to Cantrell, it was designed and built as you see it now – basically a 90-degree connection. I’m not sure of the origin of the conflicting information you and others received. Let me know if I need to investigate that further.
This place is part of the patchwork of sidewalks and bypasses that currently passes for the River Trail in this area. While some fresh promises have been made regarding a permanent solution along the river, I won't delve into those at this point. I've been fooled before.
Just tell it like it is.
I'll leave it to others to pursue this further, but many folks in the cycling community believe that promises were made and broken. On the whole, Central Arkansas is making progress toward becoming truly bike friendly, but, like any constituency, we deserve frank answers and transparency from our government. Like everyone else, we don't always get that.

Friday, February 15, 2013

You Can Help Decide Our Future: Imagine Central Arkansas

When I started this blog, I really had no clear idea as to the shape that it would take. My only real declaration of intent was that it was not going to be about me. Well, not ALL about me, anyway! As JbarCycling grew an audience, I found myself becoming involved in local issues, particularly issues of trail development/ bike infrastructure and cycling advocacy. I was asked to sit on North Little Rock's Bike Friendly Community Committee, and I've been invited to sit in on the Little Rock BFCC and Arkansas River Trail Task Force meetings as an observer and occasional contributor.

As someone who has had very little exposure to the workings of politics and public policy development, these experiences have been enlightening. Among the basic lessons of my education, I've learned that:

- Politicians do, indeed, listen to their constituents, especially where local issues are concerned. Yes, the wealthy and powerful do seem to get more results, but the average Joe can influence his alderman, city director, mayor, or congressman.

- Many decisions are already made before the general public becomes aware of the question at hand. This is usually not a result of some conspiracy of silence, but is the product of a common process of a need being defined, then some committee being formed to hash out available options.  Most major projects, and many minor ones, are years in the making, so it pays to stay informed get involved early. Finally, recommendations or plans go forward to some governmental entity for action.

It is usually at this point that a newspaper article or TV news feature appears and folks get upset because they didn't get a chance to speak their mind. 

Well, here's you big chance to help shape the future!

You can volunteer to serve on some of the many neighborhood groups or committees and spend a couple of nights per month sitting in City Council meetings, or you spend a few minutes on line take Metroplan's Imagine Central Arkansas survey!

The survey is easy, it is short, and it will help shape the future of our community. Here's the press release, including a link to the survey:


Online Activity and Hosted Visits Capture Priorities Across the Region


LITTLE ROCK, ARK. – February 1, 2013Since the beginning of 2013, over 500 Central Arkansans have identified their priorities for the future and region through Imagine Central Arkansas, the regional visioning effort launched by Metroplan in mid-September. By completing the “Choose Your Future” online activity, users were allowed to select five priorities ranging from faster commute, less government spending, more transportation choices, parks and natural areas, protecting the environment, household transportation cost, convenience, and less regulations. Then users were presented with choices to be made that will impact the future as the region grows.


As part of the launch of “Choose Your Future,” Metroplan facilitated a series of interactive workshops with Leadership Greater Little Rock, Hays Senior Citizen Center, Estem Charter High School, Conway Area Chamber of Commerce, Hot Springs Village, Central Arkansas Library System, and Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce.  Though priorities varied, the majority of citizens felt the following choices would make Central Arkansas a more desirable place to live:

  • Better coordination of transportation with housing, retail and commercial
  • Building a high-capacity rail system
  • Better networks for walking and cycling


“Choose Your Future” is available for anyone to take online at  Residents are encouraged to use the tool through the end of February.  Afterward, results from the online tool will be tallied to create various long-range scenarios that will be presented and voted on for Central Arkansas in early spring.


Imagine Central Arkansas officially kicked off with a celebration on September 19th, followed by a number of “Hometown Visits” at festivals, campuses, public spaces and other venues throughout the region. At each of these events, Central Arkansans were given the opportunity to “imagine” our region’s future through several activities.


Imagine Central Arkansas is the name used to identify the planning effort led by Metroplan, the metropolitan planning organization, to expand transportation, housing and development choices within the four-county region that includes Faulkner, Lonoke, Pulaski and Saline counties, and to set priorities for transportation investments in central Arkansas. Individuals, local businesses, corporations, nonprofits, the state and local governments, colleges and universities, and special interest groups who share a common passion for and interest in preserving our region’s rich culture, history and resources while providing transportation choices that contribute to quality growth and economic development are involved in the process. Imagine Central Arkansas strives to be all-inclusive so that each and every voice has an opportunity to be heard.


Imagine Central Arkansas will culminate in a new metropolitan transportation and development plan by late 2013. Future public events will be planned throughout 2013. Residents can learn more about Imagine Central Arkansas and participate at any time by going to, or via twitter @Metroplan, #ImagineCentralAR.


I've taken the survey, so you can either get on board and express your desires or you can leave it up to those of us that have! If you choose not to participate, us decision-drivers just don't want to hear any complaints.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Along The Trail: Groundbreaking, detour, and daffodils

Ground was broken for the new Rockwater Marina at a ceremony held last Friday. The marina, located across from the Riverside at Rockwater apartments on the North Little Rock riverfront, will provide fuel and rented slips, along with transient slips for boaters passing through on the river.

North Little Rock Mayor Joe Smith took the lectern after being introduced by developer Jim Jackson (r).
Federal transportation dollars are helping to fund transient slips within the marina project. Rep. Tim Griffin and Senator Mark Pryor were on hand to share in the moment.
This may be one of the few bipartisan efforts we'll see that actually produces a result. Senator Mark Pryor is shown at the left while Rep. Tim Griffin shovels away at the extreme right.
The marina has been a long time in coming, with several proposals for similar projects having fallen through over the years. While I have some minor concerns about traffic conflicting with River Trail activities, the marina will expose a new demographic to the trail. A little exposure is usually all that it takes to make people supporters, and we can always use some more well-heeled voters as fans of the River Trail.
 In looking over the marina website, I was interested in the concierge services being offered. A river-going swell could dock the cruiser, pick up his pre-ordered groceries and have a chef come on board to prepare that special dinner while the skipper gets a massage. As a boater whose more luxurious experiences are likely to include a kayak, frigid roadside clothing changes, a Coleman stove, and a warm sleeping bag in the bed of my truck, I find that a vision of the high life on the river has some measure of appeal!
Dock modules have been towed up the river from the downtown launch ramp and placed at the marina site.
There will not be a boat ramp at the marina, and the parking lot location will create only foot traffic crossing the River Trail. The City of North Little Rock, with the support of the Game and Fish Commission, will be building a new launch ramp slightly upstream near the skate park.
Trail Detour Ahead! 
The River Trail will be temporarily closed in Burns Park as construction proceeds on the fishing pier just downstream from this job shack. Trail traffic will be diverted to the nearby and parallel Catfish Road. No problem!
They're Back!
The crowds, that is! Though the weather flaks had forecast an all-day downpour for last Sunday, the dismal conditions quickly gave way to partly sunny skies and balmy temperatures. The trail-using public caught on fast and within a couple of hours the River Trail was buzzing with activity.
Diane stopped to pose in front of a patch of daffodils and show off her February short pants in Burns Park
Folks were streaming across Two Rivers Bridge as we rode back into town on Sunday afternoon.
Be alert. Be Polite. Stay Right.
This is my mantra for getting along on the trail. I'm lobbying for some sort of PR campaign to deliver that message to the masses of diverse users of the trail. In the meantime, let's all just work to get along! Cyclists get more than our fair share of blame for trail conflict, some of it deserved, much of it not. For example,Two Rivers Park on a warm Sunday is almost always crowded with meanderers, so it's not a great place to be head down and full gas on the TT bike.
Note to Sunday TT guy: Yes, this refers to you!
It's still mid-Februalry, but the feeling that it is spring is everywhere! I'm ready to bump up the mileage, drop that extra 5 pounds, and see all of my fair-weather pals out on the road. Come on, it's that time!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Ski Vacation: In Over My Head..

Well, up to my neck, anyway!
As is my prerogative, I sometimes go off-topic and bring you exciting non-cycling articles on subjects such as "What I did on my vacation." This is one of those articles.

I'll go ahead and open with this photo to get it out of the way.
 In the photo above, the dots in the snow represent my head and the tips of my skis. That white stuff is was joyfully welcomed around Steamboat Springs, Colorado, as about 2 feet of fresh "champagne powder". Experienced skiers live for the stuff. I could get some sense of the magic, but my level of confidence and ability prevented me from demonstrating my appreciation in any meaningful way.
Backing up a few days to Friday, January 25, Diane and I headed to Steamboat Springs, Colorado, in the company of a group from the Little Rock Athletic Club. Snow had been sparse in the area over the weeks prior to our trip, but we were greeted by several inches of fresh stuff upon our arrival. Saturday, our first day on the slopes, brought more snow, followed by a brilliant Sunday.
Diane and I were delighted that some of our Steamboat friends David Wallace (l) and Robert Orr (r) came out to play with us. We were all kind of squinty-eyed in the bright sun and snow.
Arkansas Cycling and Fitness owner Richard Machycek joined us once again. Diane was the "house mom" in our condo, which we shared with 4 guys.
Up-front admission: I am not a very good skier. Diane is much better and is good about humoring me. I stick to the intermediate stuff and have had perfect strangers ski by and tell me , "Just relax". Hard to do when you're scared, but we still had a great time and fantastic conditions. By Sunday evening, winter storm warnings were flying and it snowed for most of the next three days, dumping another couple of feet of fresh snow on the mountain.
We love our technical clothing! It was 3 degrees when we left our condo and the high was 10 as it poured snow on our third day on the slopes. Amazing how comfortable we were in those conditions.
On our last day, the powder was impressive, the locals were out in force, and there was a lot of whooping and hollering going on. Most of the locals seemed to head for the expert and out-of-bounds areas because, while early lines at the gondola base were long, there were few folks in the intermediate areas where we skied. Our friends David and Robert were among the people heading for the woods and bowls, but they did come back to join us at lunch and then they led us off of the slopes and into the trees to sample some untracked snow.
This course led to my fall as shown in the first photo, but it was amazing stuff. I'm more comfortable on water or wheels than on skis, but I'll be going back for some more of this.
Colorado is home to some serious cyclists. Fat tired snow bikes like this one are catching on fast for their winter utility. Our friend Robert is training on studded tires.
We saw quite a few folks apparently making their regular commutes by bike, weather be damned. Most of the mountain towns are built along river valleys, so getting around town doesn't involve as much climbing as might be assumed.
Nearly perfect!
The skiing was great, the company was charming, and the mood was relaxed. Everything was damn near perfect as I lolled in a heated pool preparing to get a group photo of a bunch of beautiful women soaking in a steaming hot tub.....
...and along comes Richard!!
 I joined this trip for the first time last year on an adventure to Beaver Creek. I had a little fall and an injury that was followed up by hand surgery in July and a month off of the bike. While my abilities strained my ego a bit, at least I didn't break anything this year. I'm calling that progress!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Along The Trail: More Projects

Sorry for the long gap between posts, but bloggers need vacations, too, and we bailed out to Steamboat Springs, Colorado, last week for a ski trip with the Little Rock Athletic Club. We had big snow, big fun and a chance to catch up with old friends in Steamboat. More on that to follow, but first I need to update you on a few River Trail projects.

While cycling is the primary topic here, the River Trail is the scene for many activities, including fishing along the Arkansas River.The City of North Little Rock is supporting the popular activity with some infrastructure in the form of a fishing pier near the Burns Park soccer fields.

Construction materials are staged within the orange fencing. The pier location will be at a site slightly downstream near the tree at the far left in this photo.
The location of the pier will create a little cross traffic, but the spot was already popular with fishermen. As has been my position here, the more the merrier when it comes to trail use, as we are all allies when it comes to pulling for resources. Having a broad constituency makes it much easier for local leaders to devote revenues to the ever-improving trail system.
Shake, Rattle and Roll: Shillcut Bayou Bridge Replacement
I reported the pending replacement of the somewhat infamous "wooden bridge" in North Little Rock's Burns Park a couple of years ago; however, the requirements of the Corps of Engineers for flood zone construction pushed the budget out of reach at the time. Now comes word from Metroplan by way of NLR alderman Charlie Hight that a grant has been approved for the project.
The narrow span over the Shillcut Bayou is built over a sewer force main, as I recall. It is to be replaced with a longer, wider structure slightly downstream.
Many riders complain about the tooth-rattling effect of the current bridge. My complaints about rough riding surfaces went away about the time that I started riding a titanium frame instead of aluminum. The narrow width is probably more of a legitimate complaint, especially for folks unaccustomed to passing at close quarters. Some riders get a little wide-eyed when they encounter oncoming traffic here! The rule for avoiding "target fixation" comes into play in such meetings: Keep your eyes on where you want to go---not on what you want to avoid!
Broadway Bridge
Pulaski County Judge Buddy Villines gained the support of the Quorum Court to provide funding for an enhanced Broadway Bridge design. The biggest plus for cyclists is that the new design includes a wider lane for pedestrian and bike traffic than was present in the highway department's plan. Many felt the AHTD plan was short-sighted in that it was possibly adequate for today's bike traffic, but would have been self-limiting for future use. The new design includes a double arch structure, which I'm all for, and a red, white, an blue paint scheme that I just can't buy into. Judge Buddy has proven to be a visionary of the River Trail system with the BDB and Two Rivers Bridge, but I don't like what I've seen of the color scheme and paint will require future expenditures for maintenance. It is meant as a memorial to veterans, but I think there must be better ways to recognize the sacrifices of so many.
More, more...
I've seen recent solicitations for bids to widen a sidewalk near the Clinton Library to facilitate bikes along with pedestrian traffic and Pulaski County has taken bids for a new plaza in Two Rivers Park.
The more we ride and talk about it, the more support we get from government. The success of projects like the River Trail leads to more!