Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Erma Hendrix and the battle over bikes

Posted By on Tue, May 26, 2015 at 12:59 PM

click to enlarge chester.jpg

Much unhappiness on the Downtown Little Rock Neighborhood Facebook page about Ward 1 City Director Erma Hendrix's apparently stifling of a plan to restripe Chester Street to include a marked bicycle lane. The change was part of the city's Complete Streets program to encourage use of right of way for all, including bicycles and walkers and runners, not just cars.

Director Hendrix apparently pressured the city not to move ahead with the Chester Street portion of the plan. She thinks bike lanes are tools of elitists and says they are unwanted in her predominantly black and poor ward. Some see it differently.

Tony Curtis,
a realtor who lives downtown, posted this note to the page before a letter to others from another concerned resident, Ed Sergeant:

"Ward 1 is NOT her personal monopoly board or kingdom. She is there to vote the will of her constituents and she needs to be remind of that (501-375-2216) as do the other elected officials."

Dear Complete Streets Supporter:

Last week, Public Works was directed to NOT implement the Safe Streets 3 lane scheme for Chester, despite very broad public written support including but not limited to Gibbs Magnet Elementary School, Dunbar Community Center, Dunbar Middle School, Dunbar Community Garden, Hearne Fine Art Gallery, Sue Cowan Library, Philander Smith College, Quapaw Quarter Association and neighborhood residents. The Complete Streets Ordinance passed last month requires that, "As feasible, the City shall incorporate complete streets infrastructure into existing public streets to create a comprehensive, integrated, and connected transportation network that balances access, mobility and safety needs of all users...". According to the City, this process was not followed due to the opposition of Ward 1 Director Hendrix, despite the critical role Chester Street will play in connecting the Complete Streets’ transportation network through all city wards. We ask that you please contact the City of Little Board of Directors and Staff to voice your concerns. At no cost (since the street is being repaved), this one change can make a very significant difference for the community.

Regarding current traffic volume: This is a very well studied method for improving safety for all forms of transportation. The volume of 7900 vehicles per day is low according to the latest published info from Metroplan - see green highlighted numbers on the attached map. Upper limit for 3 lanes is 18,000 - see attached excerpt from the US Department of Transportion which actually states 20,000 as upper limit.

Your immediate attention would be greatly appreciated. The repaving is in process and the street will be restriped very soon.

Please contact today, ahead of the Agenda meeting this evening at 4 pm:
Mayor Stodola: mstodola@littlerock.org
City Manager Bruce Moore: bmoore@littlerock.org
Director of Public Works Jon Honeywall: jhoneywell@littlerock.org
Little Rock Board of Directors board@littlerock.org

Arkansas Matters reported on the controversy last week. Chester Street is being resurfaced, but for now not being changed to a three-lane road with a center turn lane to accommodate bike lanes. The City Board may again discuss striping projects at a meeting tonight.

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