Thursday, May 24, 2012

Arkansas at bottom on friendliness to bicycles

Posted By on Thu, May 24, 2012 at 10:26 AM

bikepath.jpg
This won't shock bike riders. (Or pedestrians, either, who get scant consideration from Arkansas motorists, not to mention governments reluctant to require sidewalks or to build good pedestrian paths.)

An annual ranking from the League of American Bicyclists is out. The state of Washington ranks as the friendliest to bicyclists.

Arkansas, considered one of the least safe places for cyclists based on fatalities, was at the bottom of the list. The league's top recommendation was to adopt a statewide bicycle plan and to establish an advisory committee to oversee its implementation.

Here's the Arkansas report card. Among the recommendations for improvement:

Adopt federal funding project rating criteria that incentivize bicycle projects and accommodations. The state is spending a low amount, less than 0.56 percent, of federal funding on bicyclists and pedestrians.

I was just ranting about our state's reluctance to invest in signature projects that serve as potent symbols about creativity, aesthetics and other qualities that attract newcomers. The Big Dam Bridge and the Three Rivers Bridge, bicycle friendly, are two notable exceptions. Mayor Mark Stodola talked of the power of symbols in an article today about improvements in War Memorial Park. He was right as far as he went. But let's get real. The improvements are nice. But War Memorial and the Zoo are far short of what they could or should be. The park isn't even encircled by a walking path and I'm not sure if all streets through it are fully marked for bike paths. Just for example. A derelict baseball park occupies a big chunk of acreage.

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