Making Kavanaugh Blvd. more comfortable to walk and bike would promote livability, community health, safety, and better connect Stifft Station, Hillcrest, and Heights neighborhoods to the city. It would also be more consistent US DOT/FHWA guidance for facility type and with the priorities stated in City of Little Rock Resolution, Ordinance, goals, agenda, policy statements, and Mission/Vision.
Narrowing traffic lanes calms traffic and creates safer and more welcoming conditions for all road users and the neighborhood (Fig. 1). Perhaps the most vital place to calm traffic is in the business district within which bike lanes will not be added. Given that the bike lanes can’t continue through the business district, the best way for this project to calm traffic is by continuing the bike lanes to Rose from the east and Hillcrest Square from the west. When the narrowed traffic lanes calm traffic leading up to the district on both sides, drivers will be less likely to speed up within the business district because of high pedestrian presence and other mixed use visual cues. Another traffic calming measure in the proposed project is the lateral shift (a.k.a. lane shift) between Pine and Cedar, with a 30 mph design speed, forcing cars to slow to navigate the shift.
Figure 1. Driving speed on residential streets is determined more by street design than posted speed limit. Wider lanes make drivers more comfortable driving faster, so they do (NACTO).
“The correlation between lane width and drivers speeds looks well thought out and documented. This alone is reason enough to implement the proposed bike lanes.” – Butch J.
It may seem like this project would only benefit residents while they are riding a bike, however this project will increase pedestrian safety in several ways:
a) The project will calm traffic, which will both increase the visibility of pedestrians to motorists and will also improve outcomes of a car vs. pedestrian collision (Fig. 2).
b) This project will create a buffer between moving vehicles and sidewalks (Fig. 15). Some parts of Kavanaugh have no greenspace between the sidewalk and the street; the width of the curb is currently all that separates pedestrians on the sidewalk from moving traffic (Fig. 15, right).
c) This project will narrow the width of road that cars are moving from 42-52 ft. to ~20 ft. This shortens crosswalks and makes crossing the street safer and easier.
d) When sidewalks are in poor repair or blocked by trash cans or when a jogger seeks to run on asphalt vs. concrete, people in wheelchairs, parents with strollers, small children on scooters/bikes, and joggers are forced onto the street. Currently, that means forced into a vehicular traffic lane. Bike lanes will provide a space on the street where cars aren’t.
Figure 2. As driver speed increases, the driver looks through a narrower and narrower cone, which can disproportionately affect visibility of bicyclists and pedestrians, who tend to be on a street’s periphery (US DOT/FHWA).
“The crosswalks are blind to both walkers and drivers [due to parking]. Additionally, the sidewalks along Kavanaugh are heavily used by pedestrians (often with strollers, dogs, and kids); pedestrians must also use the street to pass because there isn’t enough room on the sidewalk. Bike lanes would help both situations be safer for pedestrians in one of Little Rock’s few (if only) walkable, complete neighborhoods.” – Katie H.