As a longtime cyclist and fairly new (just over a year) resident of Maumelle, I’d like to take the opportunity to respond to Neal Moore’s opinion column and give you some education and a different perspective. The Arkansas River Trail actually extends from Cook’s Landing west on Crystal Hill Road to Maumelle Boulevard at the Hampton Inn. At this point, the only option for cyclists wanting to continue west and north prior to completion of this trail was to turn left at the light across the car traffic and continue on Maumelle Boulevard. If you are familiar with this section of Maumelle Boulevard you know that the shoulder disappears into a curb just north of Wal-Mart that puts cyclists in the lane of traffic with no shoulder to escape to should we encounter a distracted or angry driver. For cyclists that live in Riverland or who wish to cut through to get to Odom Boulevard and the numerous neighborhoods on that side of Maumelle, it required a dangerous maneuver across two lanes of traffic and across the oncoming two lanes of Maumelle Boulevard to enter Riverland just north of Wal-Mart.
The new trail connects Maumelle to the rest of the Arkansas River Trail system and gives runners, walkers and cyclists a safe route.
Over the years I have been yelled at, had objects thrown at me, been swerved at, and nearly hit by distracted or angry drivers on several occasions. A trail that allows me and others to travel safely to and from our homes and enjoy exercising is very important and is a great thing for Maumelle. I would think Maumelle would be very happy to have been able to connect its trail system to the Arkansas River Trail system for only $164,000.
While the trail is close to the Boulevard, only one or two extra feet away from the roadway is enough to save a pedestrian or cyclist’s life. I agree with you regarding a safety rail and I hope the final product has something (a curb or safety rail) to add a little more protection.
Regarding use of the trail, I would encourage you to spend some time out here and you will see that even though it isn’t even completed, people are already using it every day.