The bike infrastructure and culture here is very strange. Lopsided. Great, and also terrible.
Cycling for recreation has become an accepted thing in the Little Rock area, I think. Mountain bikers have lots of great trails in Little Rock and the surrounding counties. Lycra-clad pavement cyclists whiz up and down the much-celebrated River Trail,but even it isn’t really finished – the signage is unclear, and parts of the trail have cyclists traveling on busy streets, or on narrow shoulders. Years-long calls to “close the loop” are still being met with opposition from taxpayers and businesses in the city.
Cycling for transportation and utility is viewed as the province of the drunken and/or homeless. Not many people care about interconnected trail networks or even safe bike lanes for people who actually want to GO SOMEWHERE on bicycles. Little Rock has yet to adopt a real ‘complete streets’ policy.In a city like this, would you expect to see THREE DIFFERENT dedicated bike/pedestrian bridges? No, you would not. But the county government supports cycling, even if the city government is halfhearted. And so we have the Big Dam Bridge, the longest purpose-built bike/ped bridge in the US. After much foot-dragging, the Rock Island bridge (AKA the stupidly named “Clinton Park Bridge”) is now being repaired and adapted for dedicated bike/ped use by the Clinton Foundation, as part of the park surrounding the museum.
And this week, we attended the dedication of the Two Rivers Park Bridge, spanning the Little Maumelle River to connect the west LR River Trail to Two Rivers Park. It’s full of deer and other wildlife, and for years has been a community garden spot as well. From the park, cyclists can ride low-traffic, paved county roads out past Maumelle Park, Pinnacle Mountain, and the quiet highways around the lake and up into the Ouachitas.