Bicycle friendly streets

Council to consider intensive measures for city roads

JOE LAMB
LOG CABIN STAFF WRITER
Published Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Conway City Council will decide tonight whether or not the city will endeavor to become one of only 84 League of American Bicyclists-approved bicycle friendly communities.

The regular meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. in the District Court building at 810 Parkway Ave.

The council will consider a resolution to adopt an action plan for bicycle friendly communities, which includes cyclist-specific street signage and bike lanes, programs to promote bicycling for all purposes and communicate the benefits of non-motorized transportation, making the city a model employer by encouraging city employees to use bicycles, educate motorists and cyclists to foster safe interactions between motorized and non-motorized vehicles and establishing a committee for non-motorized transportation.

Jack Bell, assistant to Mayor Tab Townsell, said the city has already dedicated $71,000 from the 2007 $14 million parks improvement bond issue, $1.5 million of which was dedicated to improving trails and streets for cyclists, to be used for signage and public street bike lanes. This bond issue was approved by the voters of Conway.

Another resolution before the council tonight also targets alternatives to the automobile. The council will consider using 100-percent of the city's share of the 2009 natural gas severance tax state turn-back funds, estimated to be more than $230,000 in 2009 and projected to rise to as much as $420,000 in the coming decade, "to the provision, development, operation and maintenance of alternative transportation facilities and services including the encouragement, education and enforcement of the proper use of those facilities and services.," as the resolution reads.

Townsell said the turn-back money, which can be used only for transportation-related projects, would best be spent on pedestrians and cyclists. By doing so, he explained, motorists will also benefit.

"The quickest way we can expand our streets, make them carry more capacity, is to take college students, which account for 25 percent of our population, and encourage them to take themselves out of their cars and onto a bicycle. If we have bike routes and bike trails that get them were they want to go, we have more lane capacity for residents. With the limited budgets of many college students, that seems like a natural marriage."

He went on to say that promoting and building for non-motorized transportation represents the city "doing for those who can't do for themselves," such as residents who are not of driving age, the elderly who for certain medical reasons cannot operate an automobile, cash-strapped college students and one-vehicle households in which the breadwinner takes the car to work.

Townsell and other city leaders have often indicated their intent to make Conway one of the most progressive cities in the South. If the League of American Bicyclists declares the city bicycle-friendly, it will be the only one in the state. Of the six states that border Arkansas, only Texas and Mississippi have a League of American Bicyclists bicycle-friendly city.

In other business, the council will consider:

A resolution certifying local government endorsement of businesses to participate in tax back programs (resolution to be provided prior to meeting);

Accepting the low bid from J's Construction for Sturgis Road Improvements pertaining to The Meadows Technology Park;

An ordinance to rezone property located at 1827 Hairston Ave. from R-2A to R-2;

An ordinance to rezone property located at 805 Donaghey, 809 Donaghey and 2106 Robinson from R-2A to O-2;

A conditional use permit for an eating place with pickup window for property located at 805 Donaghey, 809 Donaghey and 2106 Robinson;

A conditional use permit for an adult day care providing professional services to the mentally ill for property located at 132 Lower Ridge Road;

An ordinance amending street design standards and sidewalk requirements of the Conway Subdivision Ordinance;

Allowing Campus Crest a rezoning rehearing to go back before the Planning Commission for development located at 2730 Dave Ward Drive;

Pursuing certain debts owed to the Conway Sanitation Department;

Providing compensation to Limestone Partners, LLC for damages caused to property located in downtown Conway between Mike's Place and Quinn Insurance buildings;

An agreement with Steve Robertson to provide an after-hours presence at Cadron Settlement Park;

Amending an agreement with KONE for the service of the elevators in City Hall and at the McGee Center and Don Owens Sports Complex;

An ordinance appropriating donated funds from First State Bank to the Parks and Recreation Department;

Increasing the reservation fees of City Park Pavilions operated by the Conway Parks Department;

Appropriating funds for leased space for on South Donaghey (Station 6) for the Conway Fire Department;

An ordinance accepting insurance proceeds from the AR Municipal League vehicle program for the Conway Police Department;

An ordinance accepting court ordered forfeiture assets for the Conway Police Department;

And authorizing the Mayor to pursue an agreement with ESG for energy savings methods for the City of Conway.

(Staff writer Joe Lamb can be reached by e-mail at joe.lamb@thecabin.net or by phone at 505-1238. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)