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story.lead_photo.caption NWA Democrat-Gazette/DAVID GOTTSCHALK The intersection of Thompson Street and Maple Avenue is seen Thursday in Springdale.

SPRINGDALE -- Jonathan Perrodin recently rode his bicycle west along West Maple Avenue in Springdale. A driver in a large pickup honked from the parking lot as Perrodin rode by Northwest Medical Center.

"He didn't pass me until we crossed 71 Business, but then he gunned his big V-8 diesel to get around me," Perrodin reported. "But I know I was in the right."

Public input

Springdale will host a public input session on the proposed bike lanes along Maple Street at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Arts Center of the Ozarks, 214 S. Main St. More information: 750-8114.

Source: Staff report

Automobile drivers soon will get a reminder of that "right." The city plans to install one-way, protected bike lanes on Maple from South Pleasant Street to Holcomb Street. The lanes will run along Holcomb Street to West Meadow Avenue, then along Meadow to connect with the Razorback Greenway.

"I'm excited," Perrodin said. "It's a great way to get to downtown and a great way to open it up to a whole new community."

The Walton Family Foundation awarded a grant to Bike NWA to create three examples of good on-street bicycle lanes, Ryan Hale, founder of Lane Shift, told Springdale City Council members last week.

Lane Shift is set to build the protected lanes in Springdale, Fayetteville and Siloam Springs.

The route in Fayetteville is planned along Rolling Hills Drive, across North College Avenue, through the Fiesta Square shopping center, ultimately ending at Applebee Road. Access through the shopping center is still in the discussion stage with the owner, and the rest of the route is under design. Bike NWA expects the lane to open Oct. 10.

The Siloam Springs lane is planned along from East Main Street and East Jefferson Street to South Elm Street into the city's downtown area. Donald Butcher, BikeNWA's Benton County project coordinator, estimates 90 to 100 days until opening.

The route of Springdale's bicycle lanes will be marked in green paint, Hale explained. Then lines of "zebras" will be placed between the bike lanes and the roadways. Zebras are heavy rubber pieces about 7½ to 8 inches tall that look like a combination of a speed bump and a curb, said Anya Bruhin, Washington County project coordinator for Bike NWA.

Hale said he hoped for the green lanes to be 4½ to 5 feet wide, with 2-foot painted buffers between the bike lanes and the zebras. That would leave 9-foot lanes for automobiles along most of Maple. Parallel-parked cars might act as the buffers on Holcomb, he said.

The particulars of the bike and automobile lanes -- including size -- are under consideration, said Brad Baldwin, director of Springdale's Department of Engineering. City officials have been working on the project with BikeNWA and Lane Shift representatives for about three years, and he expects to see something on the roads in 90 days.

Patsy Christie, the city's director of planning, said the city needs approval for the crossing at South Thompson Street from the Arkansas Department of Transportation because Thompson is a U.S. highway.

The Meadow Avenue project also will serve as the first section of the proposed Pride of Springdale Trail, which will connect Springdale High School with Har-Ber High School, Christie said.

Drivers on Maple crossed traffic counters last week on both sides of Thompson. Officials also plan pedestrian and bicycle counts during the pilot project, Hale said.

Bikers, drivers and all community members will help decide whether the bicycle lanes remain and others are completed, Bruhin said.

"Why does this mobility matter?" Hale asked. "It's about being competitive for talent. The young folks are moving in for amenities in communities even before they have a job. They want a walkable environment."

Christie noted Tyson Foods' downtown office includes bicycle racks and showers for employees who want to ride the Greenway on their lunch hours or commute by bicycle.

"The redevelopment and revitalization of downtown Springdale is a result of the Greenway," she said. "People might be able to see a part of Springdale they've never seen before now that they have different modes of transportation."

Baldwin noted the zebras and their installation cost less than building concrete barriers, and staff at city street departments can be trained to install them. This will allow cities to create more bike lanes through more neighborhoods, he said.

The Springdale project also will serve as an example of how to better allocate rights of way for different modes of transportation, and the work on the city's protected lanes will help set design standards for such projects and serve as a demonstration for the region, Baldwin said.

Baldwin called the project on Maple a "road diet," in which driving lanes are narrowed, so drivers slow down.

"If we are able to do this in other areas of town, we will make a safer way for kids to go to school," Christie said. "And we've also been looking at a way to get people at the hospital to Murphy Park and the library."

Springdale residents who live on and around Maple Avenue said they didn't know much about the planned bike lanes.

Harry Blundell, who bikes and walks in the neighborhood, first said, "That's a perfect idea!"

But as the details came to light, he said, "What a disaster!" at the thought of building protected lanes on both sides of Maple and narrowing the driving lanes.

"I've talked myself out of it completely," he laughed. "I guess I'm a 50-50 guy."

Steve Ussery, who lives on Maple and uses the Greenway to walk and ride, said he likes the accessibility to the trail the new lanes would provide

"I wouldn't have to use the sidewalk," he said.

He also thinks the protected lanes would be best on just one side of Maple. Baldwin said the exact location of the lanes on Maple remains under design.

Perrodin noted friends of his who live west of South Thompson don't ride to downtown because they don't want to cross the busy highway.

"This will show those who have inclinations to biking that they are accepted," Perrodin said. "They won't have to fight and share space with a car."

NW News on 08/27/2018

Print Headline: Springdale plans protected bike lanes

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