The City of Little Rock is considering reducing the number of lanes on South Main Street between Interstate 630 and Roosevelt Road and adding bike lanes in order to calm traffic. People on both sides of the issue gathered together Thursday night at the Rufus K Young Church on South Main to discuss.
Residents, store owners, commuters, and bike riders were among those at the meeting who voiced opinions on the proposed bike lanes. The “road diet” as the city calls the project, involves reducing the road to three lanes and adding two bike lanes.
The City is in favor of the project, and says it will slow traffic and it makes the street safer. Assistant Director of Public Works, Ronny E. Loe led the meeting. He says there are positives and negatives to the project.
"A negative I see is if somebody is driving very slow and you're behind them, you're going to drive very slow, but that can also be a positive. If you're a speeder...you're not going to be able to speed. These things have shown around the country that they will reduce the average speed of cars, going down the roadway," said Loe.
Residents argued both for and against bike lanes. Gwen Heard, a resident of Ward 1, says she’s a bus rider, and bike rider and is in favor of the lanes. While some argue that not enough has been done to educate the people of Little Rock about traffic and bike lanes, she says the lanes’ existence is a part of the education process.
Several people mentioned the active bus route that goes up and down Main Street as both an argument for and against the road diet. Ward 1 Board Director Erma Hendrix says the bus route should be a consideration.
"I am telling you what I know. I have even received calls from FedEx employees and drivers of those big trucks. When those buses stop, even though that middle lane is there, cars actually go around those buses. We're having wrecks out there and accidents out there," said Hendrix.
The city plans to make a decision over the next two weeks on whether to include bike lanes in the South Main Street plan before handing the project over to the Highway Department.
For more on both sides of the debate, listen to the full story at the top of the page.