Cyclists in Fayetteville, Arkansas are hoping to get bike lanes added to a street expansion project.
The current design plans for Garland Avenue, which is currently a two-lane street, is a five-lane road, with four travel lanes and one continuous turn lane. The plan also includes a proposal to have a “10-foot-wide multiuse path” running along the west side of the street.
Bicycle and pedestrian advocates would prefer to see a 5-foot-wide bike lane and a 5-foot sidewalk on both sides of the street, arguing that share-use paths are not as safe as separate bike lanes and sidewalks:
Paths can be dangerous, particularly for pedestrians who must share space with speeding bikes. And since the shared paths intersect driveways, this option can also create collision points between bikes and cars.
“Cars aren’t really looking for you on those shared paths,” said Matt Mihalevish, Fayetteville’s trails coordinator. Residents agree, saying they’d rather see true bike lanes and not a shared path.
“It’s not going to be a bike path if you do it that way. It’s not safe,” said Pete Heinzelmann, a Fayetteville resident, speaking at a Fayetteville Sidewalks and Trails Task Force meeting.
John Mathis, with the roadway design division of the highway department, said bicycle lanes are not included in the current design but could be an option. The design currently includes a 10-foot-wide shared path that is separate from the road. The design would have to be reconfigured for bike lanes to fit everything within the designated right of way, Mathis said.
Proponents of the bike lanes say that the bike lanes and sidewalks could be accommodated within the design without changing the planned right-of-way. “Work within the right-of-way that they currently show, and try to work the bike lanes into that,” Fayetteville Alderman Kyle Cook advised.
Matt Mihalevich, trails coordinator for the city, said side paths are not the safest way to go for bicycles. “It doesn’t really work for commuting, for alternative transportation needs,” he said.
Mihalevich said the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials recommends against the use of side paths and provides a list of problems associated with them, including cross streets and driveways where bicycles have to contend with turning vehicles.
A safer option is a true bike lane with a 5-foot minimum width that includes arrows and bike symbols, he said.
The highway department will take public comment for a 15-day period, and the comments will be taken into consideration before the design is finalized. Comments can be sent via e-mail to email@example.com.