Cyclists could one day have an official bike route from the city’s trail system to the businesses in and around Evelyn Hills Shopping Center.
Members of the City Council’s Transportation Committee recently voted to proceed with a plan to add bicycle lanes on North Street that connect to the Woolsey Avenue Bikeway. The lanes would also provide access to a new pathway through the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks campuses. The path would eventually emerge on Memorial Drive as it winds down the hill toward the traffic signal in front of Evelyn Hills Shopping Center.
The project could also help solve a long-standing traffic problem.
Matthew Petty, Ward 2 alderman and chair of the committee, said residents have complained for years about the speed of vehicles on North Street, and UAMS staff have recently requested some sort of traffic calming system be implemented, as the school anticipates doubling its student population in the next few years.
Adding bike lanes is one way to narrow a roadway as a low-cost visual traffic calming method.
Matt Mihalevich, the city’s trails coordinator, said the cost to add the lanes would be minimal since North Street is already between 30 and 40 feet wide. Two 5-foot-wide bike lanes could be added while keeping the required 10-foot-wide vehicle lanes, he said.
The bike lanes would include bike symbols and signs directing cyclists to the new bikeway and to the southern entrance to the UAMS campus. A fence section at the southern end of the VA property would be converted into a lighted trail entrance providing public access to the park-like setting inside the Veterans Health Care System campus.
“Hopefully this would provide those at the VA with a little outdoor time including access to Wilson Park, and give area residents and all our trail users the ability to get to any of these campuses or to Evelyn Hills,” said Petty.
Mihalevich said it could be a year or two before the project clears all the local and federal hurdles required to build the bikeway.