Planning - Master Bike Plan
Our current Master Bike Plan (click on “Master Bike Plan” in top right corner) was originally conceived as an advocacy document by Little Rock’s bicyclists to communicate to the City where they felt bike infrastructure was most needed. Over time and through its iterations, it has become more of an official part of city plans. The Master Bike Plan is now officially part of the Master Street Plan (Sections 4 and 5, pgs. 32-43), which is approved by the Board of Directors. Given its place in board-approved city planning documents, when the Complete Streets Ordinance was passed in 2015, many considered the Master Bike Plan to now be a practitioner’s document, showing where (at a minimum) bike infrastructure should be installed as a matter of policy as roads are resurfaced.
However, the Master Bike Plan was created by bicyclists, not city planners, and it was never vetted by city staff or an outside planning firm. The plan's routes do not take into account the needs of other road users or land owners and some routes are impossible without road widening. Input from the bicycling community is an important part of creating a practitioner's Master Bike Plan, but a plan created by the bicycling community alone is not a sufficient practitioner's document. Bicycle advocates simply do not have the time or the training to overlay a safe and convenient bicycle transportation network onto Little Rock's street network considering the needs of the City, land owners, and other modes of traffic. In short, our nationally-recognized Complete Streets Ordinance needs an equally strong Master Bike Plan, or Master BikePed Plan, to create an effective, modern, multi-modal transportation network.
The ideal way to create this plan would be to partner with a planning firm with a strong bicycle and pedestrian planning background. Instead of bicycle advocates or City planners attempting to learn and apply emerging national best practices for BikePed designs, we could partner with the firms who are innovating these practices. An outside planning agency would consider our existing and planned road networks (including street widths and connectivity to destinations), our preferred bicycle routes (informed in part by our Master Bike Plan and Master Trail Plan), and the needs of other modes of transportation. They would conduct traffic and parking studies and public surveys. They would meet with residents, businesses, bicyclists, and City officials and staff to consider all needs. They would present their plans at public meetings and revise their plans according to the comments they receive. At the end of this process, we would have a true practitioner's Master BikePed Plan that would be vetted by all stakeholders. This plan could provide us an advantage when applying for grants to create planned BikePed facilities. With a strong plan such as this, all parties could move forward cooperatively to create a transportation network designed for all users (the intention of the Complete Streets Ordinance).
Other communities have partnered with outside planning firms to create strong Master BikePed Plans, including Northwest Arkansas, Arkansas (Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department), and Pulaski County.