Transportation Goals (proposed)
Transportation and Sustainability
Transportation accounts for 32.4% of the Little Rock metro area’s carbon emissions, the single largest source of man-made carbon emissions in Central Arkansas and higher than the national average (pg. 60). The Little Rock metro area’s vehicle miles traveled (VMT) is the highest out of 52 comparable communities (pg. 5). While unfortunate, this understanding is also empowering because it identifies transportation as an area where changes could yield relatively large sustainability dividends.
Transportation and Equity
The high carbon footprint of transportation in our metro area has much to do with prioritizing the efficiency of automobile movement over other transportation modes. However, high VMT is not the only outcome of this prioritization. When our transportation network is built to serve people in personal automobiles, safe movement on that network begins to require personal automobiles. Mobility for residents who can't or prefer not to drive personal automobiles becomes less efficient and more dangerous. Households without cars become less mobile and more at risk when they attempt to move. This creates obstacles in arriving to work and school on time, compromises upward mobility, and perpetuates cycles of poverty. This committee seeks to make transportation more equitable.
The City of Little Rock is committed to increasing sustainability and providing equitable services, including mobility, for all of our residents. These goals will help the City better address this commitment.
Changes to the City's built environment over time will allow residents safe and efficient mobility through walking, biking, transit, and personal automobile. Necessary changes include better accommodation of this movement on our street grid and a more robust off-street trail network. Ultimately, our on- and off-street transportation grid will allow anyone that wants to travel anywhere in Little Rock to do so without a car. In order for people to choose to move without a car, the City will also prioritize infill and dense, mixed-use development that brings origins and destinations closer together to make active transportation easier and its efficiency more competitive with personal automobiles. These changes will increase sustainability, but also increase public health, transportation equity, public safety, livability, attracting and retaining a creative class workforce, and economic development.
The Little Rock Sustainability Commission’s transportation goals are intended to reduce Little Rock's contribution to climate change, while reinforcing Little Rock's commitment to equity, health, and safety. To do that, we recommend focus on the following three domains:
Smart growth is an approach to development that encourages a mix of building types and uses, diverse housing and transportation options, development within existing neighborhoods, and community engagement and discourages urban sprawl. It brings origins and destinations closer together, facilitating car-free transportation.
A lack of infrastructure supporting walking or biking (sidewalks, bike lanes, shared use trails) is the most important single barrier to active transportation in Little Rock (Table 1). Encouraging zero or low carbon emissions transportation requires a complete, dense network connecting origins to destinations. This network is a prerequisite to a major shift in transportation mode use.
This goal includes measures beyond network planning and installation, such as shared micromobility options, transit options, and other measures to reduce VMT and transportation carbon emissions.