NORTHWEST ARKANSAS, Ark. (KNWA) — Protected bike lanes are popping up across several Northwest Arkansas cities, but some believe the installation is causing some confusion.
However, the non-profit organization BikeNWA says there’s nothing to worry about.
Just before Christmas, BikeNWA completed the protected bike lanes in Fayetteville, Springdale, and Siloam Springs.
It’s a pilot project to provide more mobility options.
Paxton Roberts, Executive Director for BikeNWA, says it’s a way to test before you invest.
“Before these projects, we collected speed and volume data on the roads to see how many cars are traveling on them everyday, and how fast they are going. Big speeding problem on all roads,” Roberts said.
The project is fully funded by a grant from the Walton Family Foundation, and will be in place for at least a year to have sufficient time to collect data and evaluate overall success.
The bike lanes range from around six to six and a half feet wide, and there is a three foot buffer between them and the travel lanes. That leaves the travel lane about ten feet wide, which BikeNWA says follows national standards and guidelines for these projects.
One woman from Springdale says she’s concerned about certain streets, like Maple and Pleasant, where traffic is already heavy.
“I’m all for the bike lanes. It’s just they need to be better executed and better planned of where they’re at.,” Jamie Tamayo said. “I think they need to look at putting them on the wider side-streets.”
But Roberts says the materials used were chosen specifically to be no taller than a speed bump, and the curb stops encourage people to slow down.
“If an emergency vehicle does come up behind them, they are supposed to do what they do on any street. They should pull over as close as they can to the curb. They can either try to shoot for the gap between the curb stops, or go right over them in a small car,” Roberts said.
The pilot project will continue to be monitored and analyzed until December 2019.
Roberts adds, “we are listening to the public, we are receiving the feedback, the cities are as well on all three projects. We worked with cities to make changes already based upon the feedback.”
The City of Fayetteville recently released speed and volume data that shows drivers did slow down on these roads, but only by a small percentage.
Roberts says the data is misleading because tubes broke at one location, and it’s also difficult to compare projects that are completely different from one another.
He has requested that the City of Fayetteville collect the data again.
Roberts does point to one bike lane location, however.
He says the Rolling Hills-Sheryl streets show that the percentage of drivers that drove at or below the speed limit increased from 23% to 52% of all drivers.