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Modified NLR bike plan has costs; public education key to plan’s success

In the old movie, Jerry McGuire, a famous line was “show me the money.”

That phrase may be fitting in the wake of the North Little Rock City Council adopting a revised bike use plan in an attempt to make the city a more bike-traveling friendly community.

A plan presented to the council about two weeks ago detail the estimated costs.

Below is a breakdown of some of the recommended changes and associated costs, based on the plan presented to city aldermen and North Little Rock Mayor Joe Smith:

Cost Estimates of Implementation

1) Striping Bike Lanes. A survey of city streets revealed approximately 45,000 linear feet of available roadways identified on the Bicycle Plan Map as having enough pavement width available to stripe bike lanes or enhanced roadway shoulders without modification of the roadway width. Adding this striping would be a quick and immediate boost to these streets’ functionality for cyclists. A 4” white continuous stripe costs about $0.44/Linear Foot. Estimated cost of implementing the entire system of striped bike lanes is about $19,800.

2) Street Widening to Add Bike Lanes/Shoulders. There are approximately 91,436 feet of proposed bike lanes/shoulders. For planning purposes, the estimated cost for widening a street to add paving for bike lanes is between $100-200/linear foot or about $9-$18 million for the entire system.

3) Placing Sharrows on Routes. The survey of city streets for proposed routes with sharrows indicated the need for approximately 175 sharrows throughout the city. Placing sharrows on designated routes will immediately increase motorist awareness of the presence of cyclists and identify preferred routes for cyclists. Sharrows cost approximately $250/each. The cost estimate of placing sharrows on designated routes of the bike plan is approximately $43,750.

A sharrow is a bicycle logo and two chevrons painted on the street. The purpose of these road markings is to inform both cyclists and motorists of a designated bicycle route and indicate that bicycles have an equal right to the road. Sharrows help alert cars to take caution and share the road with cyclists. Sharrows are allowed on streets with posted speed limits below 40 mph.

4) Bike Route Signs. Signage is needed on all designated paths, lanes, and routes of the Bicycle Plan. A standard highway traffic sign costs approximately $40 and the post costs approximately $75. The estimated total cost of signs on the Bicycle Plan is $78,200 — $10,350 for 90 signs along routes with sharrows, 16,100 for 140 signs along streets with bike lanes/shoulders, and $51,750 for 450 signs along routes with no other markings.

5) Bike Racks. Single-hoop bike racks cost approx. $110 each. The City currently has bike racks in stock, so there is no need to purchase additional racks at this time.

6) Bike Trails. The estimated cost is $60 per linear foot not counting the additional right-of-way costs. Completing the 72,122 feet of proposed trails or paths is estimated to cost $4.3 million.

Another important aspect of the plan is educating the public, according to the plan.

“Improved bicycle safety is likely to occur as a result of the development, communication and implementation of the Bicycle Plan, increased ridership, and education efforts,” states the plan. “The education of the general public regarding best riding practices is an on-going task.”

The City’s Safe Routes to School, or “Fit 2 School,” program has incorporated bicycle and pedestrian education in four elementary schools since 2012, with the goal of expanding to reach at least 75 percent of North Little Rock School District third graders in the 2013-2014 school year.

Active implementation of nationally standardized signage and roadway markings will serve to increase awareness by motorized vehicles and bicyclists alike, thus increasing safety. Diligent efforts through the local media may have an impact on motorist behavior, for example the City’s 2013 three-foot passing law awareness campaign.

Another means of educating motorists is through driver education programs and the State Driver’s Licensing Program. The Arkansas State Police recently updated their driver’s license manual, and included a section about sharing the road with bicycles, states the plan.

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