UALR Trail Creates Stronger Bike Network

A keen observer of Figure 3 might note that Tri-Creek Greenway Phase 3 already includes a University Ave. crossing (Fig. 1, salmon line).  This could create a question about the utility/need for the UALR Trail.  While Phase 3 will create this connection, its high rider stress will deter only but the most fearless residents and therefore only serves a small part of the community.

Map of the Tri-Creek Greenway Phase 3 on-street connection.
Figure 1.  Map of the Tri-Creek Greenway Phase Three on-street connection.

Boyle Park Road Sharrow Route

Boyle Park Road is posted 25 mph and has ~4.3K cars per day.  It is 20 ft. wide with no shoulder (Fig. 2).  It has a double yellow line which, in Arkansas, drivers cannot cross even to pass a cyclist.  Some of this route has no sidewalk on either side of the street (e.g. Fig. 2).  The majority of the route is a long, steady uphill climb (from western edge of on-street route to Cleveland St.), meaning that the speed differential between cars and bikes will be high.  Lane width and the double yellow line do not allow a vehicle to legally pass a cyclist and the cyclist has no opportunity to get out of the way of a driver wishing to pass. These conditions create frustrating conditions for people driving and riding a bicycle, high rider stress, and discourage ridership.

Google streetview of Boyle Park Road.
Figure 2.  Google Streetview of Boyle Park Road.

University Crossing

The on-street route offers a rare traffic light crossing, which makes crossing University Ave. (eight lane divided, 39K cars per day) at least feasible (Fig. 3).  Still, only the bravest cyclist would cross this intersection without physical protection.

Photo of the Tri-Creek on-street route from Boyle Park Rd. crossing University.
Figure 3.  Photo of the Tri-Creek Phase 3 on-street route from Boyle Park Rd. crossing University Ave.

In short, the salmon route (Fig. 1) does create wayfinding for the Tri-Creek Greenway to connect to the larger bike network, but this connection only serves a small subset of residents (Fig. 6).

Route Between University and 12th Street

The Tri-Creek Phase 3 on-street route between University and 12th St. (19th, Grant, 14th, and Jackson Streets) is truly residential (and even minor residential) and low-stress (e.g. Fig. 4).  Many residents who would be uncomfortable on Boyle Park Rd. or crossing University without physical protections would be comfortable using this route.

Google Streetview of Grant Street.
Figure 4.  Google Streetview of Grant Street.

How Does the UALR Trail Improve This Connection?

The UALR Trail by-passes Boyle Park Road (Fig. 2) and the University crossing at Boyle Park Road (Fig. 3) and picks up the Phase 3 on-street route at the low-stress residential streets (Fig. 5).  A Tri-Creek Greenway user coming from the south wishing to access UALR, the UALR Trail Focal Area, travel east on the 12th St. bike lanes or north could choose to turn onto the UALR Trail (Fig. 5, yellow line) continue on the Coleman Creek Trail (Fig. 5, orange line), and access the low-stress portion of the Tri-Creek Greenway on-street route.  A Tri-Creek Greenway user coming from the north could choose the higher-stress Boyle Park Rd. route (which will still be installed) if they wanted the most direct route or continue to the UALR Trail if they wanted the lower-stress route.

Map of the UALR Trail and how it impacts the bike network.
Figure 5.  Map of the UALR Trail and how it impacts the bike network.

Who Does the Bike Network Serve?

We created the on-street route on Boyle Park Road because connecting the Tri-Creek Greenway to the bike network was necessary for the project to have an immediate transportation function.  However, this connection is only sufficient in the long term if we are content with the bike network serving only highly confident riders (and a small percentage of Little Rock residents, Fig. 6).  An equitable bike network serves all ages and abilities.  A high-stress network, on the other hand, is not equitable e.g. it selects against female ridership.

Figure 6.  If access to the Tri-Creek Greenway depends on crossing University Ave. without separation from cars, it is only accessible to a small percentage of residents.