Conway police have recorded 26 accidents involving cars and either pedestrians or bicyclists in the past 12 months, including two fatalities and 17 injuries.
The Conway Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board held a meeting on Thursday night at Conway City Hall with city officials, including chief of police A.J. Gary and two CPD officers, to talk about what can be done to bring this number down.
On April 28, 2013, a man later found to have had a blood alcohol content of .23 was lying in the roadway at College Avenue and Helen Street at around 2 a.m., and the driver said they never saw him, according to CPD Patrolman Bob Cole.
On March 31, a woman walking in the roadway on Harkrider Street near Fifth Street was hit before dawn, in the rain, and killed.
These accidents weren’t “normal” collisions between pedestrians and cars, but at the part of Harkrider where the woman was struck there’s no sidewalk, and at the part of College Avenue where the man was killed there’s not very much light after dark. It’s not clear that either of these things would have saved the two people, but it does demonstrate that there is room for improvement for non-vehicle traffic.
The group also discussed ways to educate motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians about their rights and responsibilities. The most concerning problem, most agreed, is that some motorists and bicyclists think that bicycles belong on the sidewalk.
This is incorrect, according to Cole and Peter Mehl of the Conway Advocates for Bicycling group, who said he has “always said that the most dangerous place for bicycles is on the sidewalks at intersections.” Cole said that most serious bicycle/car accidents happen when bicyclists riding on a sidewalk “roll through an intersection.”
Another bicyclist said that he recently encountered a motorist who argued with him in traffic about whether he had a right to use the road and stoplights like any other vehicle.
The group also talked about lobbying CPD and city hall for stricter enforcement of state “rules of the road” law pertaining to bicycles, including traffic tickets for riding on the sidewalk in some instances (young children riding bicycles to school presents a different question, for example).
The group also discussed whether there could, or should, be a city ordinance requiring recreational runners to wear some sort of reflective clothing or lights when they run in the roadway after dark.
The Conway Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board meets at least quarterly. For more information go to www.walkbikeconway.com or the local “Car, Pedestrian, Cyclists” Facebook page.