Speaking from the intersection of Capitol and Broadway Monday morning, Mayor Mark Stodola joined a variety of organizations to announce the Heads Up Downtown campaign. The initiative is part of Pedestrian Safety Awareness Month.
Representatives from the organizations each spoke about pedestrian safety from their perspective.
Thomas Knight of the Downtown Little Rock Partnership introduced the campaign saying, “Whether you’re a driver, whether you’re a pedestrian or anybody downtown, we all have a responsibility to get our heads up when we’re downtown. We all have an equal right to be safe and that’s as much on the driver’s side of things as well as the pedestrian side of things.”
Mayor Stodola cautioned people against texting while walking and mentioned the city’s priority of considering changes to downtown’s one-way streets as a strategy to alleviate traffic congestion.
Gretchen Hall, President of the Little Rock Visitors and Convention Bureau cited safety as a factor in continuing to attract tourists to the region.
“Pulaski County welcomes about five million visitors in our county each and every year. And the largest concentration of not only our attractions but our hotel rooms and of course the event facilities with Verizon Arena, the Statehouse Convention Center and others – that largest concentration is downtown. So pedestrian safety is extremely important for all of our visitors,” said Hall.
The Head of School at Urban Garden Montessori, Vera Chenault commented on the need for careful attention from drivers with the large number of school children downtown. Chenault pointed out that, in addition to normal before- and after-school traffic, her students are often on the streets during the school day while walking to the downtown library as part of their studies.
Coincidentally the Complete Streets Policy returns to the agenda of the City Board of Directors this month. The ordinance promotes the inclusion of bike and pedestrian lanes when renovating and repaving streets in order to safely accommodate all potential users of public roadways. A vote on the policy is expected in late April.