Conway Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board

Bike Navigation Tips

Editor’s Note: Greg Reddin is an avid cyclist who serves on the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board and is a founding member of Conway Advocates for Bicycling. He can be found partially commuting his way through west Little Rock traffic most pretty days.

I’m not a cycling superhero. I’m just a regular guy who needs more exercise than my sedentary job provides. Riding a bike still gives me that same sense of freedom and joy that it did when I was young. However, I’m one of the thousands of people who drive 40 miles to Little Rock to go to work. I hope the story of how I’m trying to use my bicycle for at least part of that commute will help you if you’re thinking of doing the same. What if your daily commute could become a source of joy rather than a wasted part of the monotony of your day? My story would not make for a good bike commuting commercial. I work on Shackleford Rd. in Little Rock near one of the most dangerous intersections in Arkansas. It’s probably one of the least bike-friendly areas in the state. I’m not a cycling superhero, but I am determined to find a way. I thought I’d start with the last few miles of the journey. I parked my car at Cook’s Landing on the north end of the Big Dam Bridge. On a map the route looks fairly straightforward. There’s plenty of neighborhood streets and slow travel streets that lead southward from the River Trail until Shackleford turns into a 5-lane thoroughfare. But I was not prepared for the hills of West Little Rock. Thankfully, most of the streets are wide enough that I don’t feel like I’m holding up traffic. But it can be very discouraging when you are pedaling hard and panting for breath and your speedometer reads 4 MPH or less. It took me over an hour to ride 8 miles. Obviously, I still have fitness work to do. Here in Conway our situation is much better. We have some of the problems of Little Rock with many locations that are hard to access by bike. We also have some problems Little Rock does not have, namely that most of our streets are used beyond their capacity. But we have a lot of advantages too. First, being a much smaller city, it’s a lot easier to enact changes in Conway. Also, Conway is a lot flatter than Little Rock, so an 8-mile trip is much easier for a person of my fitness level. Finally, it seems a lot easier to find side street routes that connect here in Conway. So if you live and work here and, like me, you want to incorporate more fitness into your lifestyle, you might want to give bike commuting a try. But if you’re new to cycling it can be a daunting task to find a route from your house to your destination. Here’s a few tips: First,

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avoid sidewalks. Information from local law enforcement shows that several accidents involving bicycles have occurred when cyclists were riding on the sidewalk. There’s simply too many directions you have to look for cars and drivers cannot watch out for cyclists crossing their paths on the sidewalk. Pedestrians can stop much faster on the sidewalk and avoid accidents. If you find yourself on a street that you can’t navigate without the sidewalk your best bet is to find an alternate route or walk your bike on the sidewalk. Next, take a look at a mapping service that provides aerial imagery. Using these services you can often times find side streets and connections between neighborhoods that are not obvious on the maps. You can also use the parking lots of businesses to get between side streets, but you must be careful with this. A business is private property and we need to respect the owners of the property. It’s a good idea to ride around the perimeter of a parking lot to keep yourself and patrons of the business safe. Finally, if you find a good route or a route that would be good except for that one missing piece, please report it to the Conway Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board. We are working to find the missing pieces in Conway’s bicycle and pedestrian networks and fill them in. You can contact

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us via our website at http://walkbikeconway.com/ or send us an email to conway-bpab@googlegroups.com. Conway is a bicycle-friendly community and we are working to make it even more so. That means you don’t have to be a cycling superhero to get around by bike. You can transform your daily commute and it’s a lot more fun than going to the gym.

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