Arkansas River Trail - Riverfront Drive
What is “Arkansas River Trail – Riverfront Drive”?
This is the section of the Arkansas River Trail (ART) that runs along Riverfront Drive for about a mile from the Rebsamen Park Rd. circle to the Titus Trail (Figs. 1-2).
Figure 1. The ART runs along Riverfront Dr. for a mile on the Little Rock side (dark blue circle). Map from http://arkansasrivertrail.org/.
Figure 2. Riverfront Drive connects the ART from the Rebsamen Park Rd. circle to the Titus Trail.
ART – Riverfront Dr. Project
The ART Riverfront Dr. Project focuses on addressing those areas that are most challenging for bicyclists and pedestrians within the corridor.
At the northern end of the corridor, at Rebsamen Park Circle, we will install Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons (RRFBs) to increase the safety of crossing Riverfront Dr. at the circle for trail users (Fig. 3-4).
Figure 3. A Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacon (RRFB) is manually triggered by a trail user and alerts motorists to yield to pedestrians and bicyclists who are crossing the intersection.
Figure 4. RRFBs will help pedestrians and bicyclists safely cross Riverfront Dr. to continue north or south on the Rebsamen Park Rd.’s BikePed trail (blue dashed arrow) or for a bicyclist riding south on the Arkansas River Trail to transition from the off-street trail to Riverfront Dr.’s bike lanes (red dashed arrow).
Most of the project, however, is focused on the southern end of Riverfront Dr. Of the entire Riverfront Dr. corridor, this is the most challenging for bicyclists and pedestrians, because it doesn’t have bike lanes or a sidewalk (Fig. 5).
Figure 5. The southern end of Riverfront Dr. does not currently have bike lanes or a sidewalk.
The project created off-street bicycle and pedestrian trails from just north of Cottondale Lane to the Titus Trail (Fig. 6). There will be an off-street 12 ft. wide shared use path from the end of the Titus Trail to a crossing in between Cottondale Dr. and Cottondale Ln. This will be a two-way section for bicyclists and pedestrians (Fig. 7). Trail users crossing Riverfront Dr. between Cottondale Dr. and Cottondale Ln. will be protected by a Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon (PHB, a.k.a. High intensity Activated crossWalK, HAWK) signal (Fig. 8). A HAWK signal is safer than a RRFB for this crossing because of the four vehicular lanes of traffic. The interior traffic lanes may not see an RRFB on the side of the road at this location.
Figure 6. Overview of the Riverfront Drive trail system that will be created in this project.
Figure 7. Bicycle (red dash) and pedestrian (blue dash) traffic patterns on the new section of trail along Riverfront Dr. The arrows indicate direction of traffic.
Figure 8. A Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon (PHB) activated on-demand by a push button will allow safe crossing of Riverfront Dr. by trail users.
The traffic pattern is slightly more complex from the crossing north. North of the crossing, pedestrians may travel on sidewalks on either side of Riverfront Dr., so all new sections of trail will accommodate two-way pedestrian traffic linking to sidewalks on either side of Riverfront Dr. (Fig. 7). Bicycle traffic will become directional at the crossing. When riding a bike north from the Titus Trail, a user will remain on the east side of Riverfront Dr. to merge with northbound bike lanes at the top of Figure 7. When riding south from the traffic circle, the rider will exit the bike lane onto the new section of trail in the upper left corner of Figure 7 then cross at the PHB. Figures 9-11 offer closer views of the concept plans for the project.
Figure 9. Close-up of the southern portion of the Riverfront Dr. project.
Figure 10. Close-up of the southern crossing of the Riverfront Dr. project.
Figure 11. Close-up of the merge between bike lanes and off-street trail in the Riverfront Dr. project.
This project does not solve all of the challenges of the Arkansas River Trail within the Riverfront Dr. corridor. We are still working with the residents of this corridor to make it more bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly. However, it does address travel along Riverfront Dr. in the most challenging section of the corridor and crossing Riverfront Dr. in two key locations. Coupled with upcoming widening of the bike lanes when Riverfront Dr. is resurfaced, Riverfront Dr. is about to become a step closer to a safer and more comfortable section of the Arkansas River Trail!
As of February 2020, all trail construction is complete but the Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon has yet to be installed.