Sunday, October 6, 2013

Along The Trail: Detour Ahead, Seasonal Crowds

Trail Closure/ Detour On the North Side

Work is to begin on Monday to replace utility poles along the River Trail near the Rockwater Marina in North Little Rock. The trail will be closed until mid-November, but an easy detour on Rockwater Boulevard will minimize inconvenience for trail users.
Contractors for Entergy have been clearing trees and brush from the right-of-way in preparation for the replacement of the wooden utility poles.
The stretch of trail formerly a part of River Road will be used to stage equipment and materials for the Entergy project. Though the parallel section of Rockwater Blvd. does not have bike lanes, it does have striped "designated shoulders". They were not called bike lanes as it was thought that at some point in the future, some on-street parking might be needed in the area.
'Tis The Season To Be Alert, Be Polite, Stay Right
Mild fall weather is upon us and with it comes large crowds of occasional trail user, many of whom do not have a clue as to how to behave. It doesn't make them bad people, but it does make them dangerous, so it falls upon the rest of us to adjust to the presence of large numbers of moving, unpredictable obstacles.
The howling wind had the flags straight out on Sunday, but the mild temperatures and sunny skies attracted a crowd.
The deer in Two Rivers Park are not shy and many folks just have to stop to take a look. Some prudently step off of the trail. Many don't. Be prepared for sudden stops.
The newly repaved loop in Two Rivers Park makes for smooth, safer cycling, but it doesn't make high speed any more prudent on days like this. Riders just need to be resigned to slow speeds when the crowds are out. There is plenty of nearby open road to put the hammer down.
I'm mostly preaching to the choir when I advise my readers to exercise care on the River Trail. Experienced riders don't have anything to prove and the ego-driven goobers who would push through a crowd like the ones shown above are likely not much on reading this kind of thoughtful writing. Seriously, many of the complaints about cyclists come from people who don't have an understanding of trail protocol and therefore put themselves and others at risk by ignoring the simple admonition to "be alert, be polite, and stay right". And most of the riders who truly ride dangerously are either inexperienced, impolite, or both. Fortunately, there is little real conflict on the trail because most people are by nature polite and they make an effort to accommodate others.
I-430 Beauty Shot, the "icebox", and the CPB.
Even a freeway bridge can be a thing of beauty when viewed from a bike bridge!
The stretch of trail between the BDB and Two Rivers Park Bridge is known to cyclists as the "icebox".
The icebox lies in the shadow of the ridge to the south and will not see afternoon sun again until spring. The result is that it noticeably cooler in winter than other sections of the trail. If you want to ride on the sunny side, head to North Little Rock, where the sun always shines!
The Clinton Park Bridge is seldom crowded on weekends, and it affords some striking views of the river and of downtown Little Rock. I'm looking forward to seeing it illuminated by the recently installed LED's.
There was a nice article in Sunday's Dem-Gaz about the development and construction of the Arkansas River Trail. It served as a good reminder of the time and commitment required to build such a resource. Without the Arkansas River Trail, the Little Rock area would likely not have been featured as it was recently in such diverse publications as Kiplingers and Outside Magazine. What started out as an idea to tie together a few parks has become a defining centerpiece of a thriving Central Arkansas. And, folks, we're not done, yet!

1 comment:

Rob Stephens said...

Thanks! Nice blog post. Conflicts are not the prevailing situation, but just like any other impact on the trail become acute when the trail gets crowded with so many diverse user groups. Your photographs speak louder than words: little kids on big wheels, future cyclists with training wheels, walkers and all other the nature lovers using the trail at the same time.