In this week’s ‘You Ask, We Investigate’ report, KNWA’s Katelynn Zoellner looked into safety concerns about a newly designed road in the City of Fayetteville.
Fayetteville joined Springdale and Siloam Springs in November 2018 in a 12-month “Protected Bike Lane Pilot Project” funded by the Walton Family Foundation. BikeNWA, a Northwest Arkansas region bicycling advocacy organization, designed and planned the lane installations in cooperation with consultants and staff from the three cities.
Rolling Hills Road, between Old Missouri Road and N. College Avenue, was selected to be a part of the project in Fayetteville. The road received three-foot-long wheel stops on each side of the road in the white hatch-striped buffer areas.
“It sort of pushed the boundaries of what lane widths we’d like to go to and that’s what pilot projects are all about, is really testing things to see how they work,” said Chris Brown, City Engineer in Fayetteville.
The changes have caused people to be confused about how to safely pull over for an emergency vehicle.
“The bumpers, while they look like they are not able to be driven over, you can actually drive over them if you need to in an emergency situation,” Brown said. “Or, you can find gaps between them to move over out of the way of the emergency vehicles.”
Brown said the city created a video to show people how to move out of the way during an emergency.
“We have had some concerns and I think you heard those concerns about how emergency vehicles can use that road,” he said. “So we actually with Bike NWA developed a very short video of how to navigate that and move out of the way and that’s on the city’s YouTube channel.”
Brown said he understands people’s concerns with the road, but wants them to know this is temporary.
“It does look a bit intimidating to drive over those,” he said. “I think bottom line, we want people to know this is a pilot project. It’s to establish these protect bike lanes and see how they work. See if it does increase ridership of bicycles. So, we are collecting a bunch of data. We are collecting traffic count data to see how it impacts speeds and ultimately it will inform the design of the road if we do make permanent changes to it, what’s the best way to make those permanent changes.”
The project is expected to be completed in November 2019. Brown said the city will then look at data collected during the project as well as feedback from the community to determine a permanent solution for the road.
You can learn more about the pilot project here.
If there’s something you want to know about in your community, we want to investigate it. You can send your questions to Katelynn at KZoellner@knwa.com