Kavanaugh Bike Lanes
The City of Little Rock proposes to install buffered bike lanes on Kavanaugh Boulevard from Markham to Rose and from west of Hillcrest Square to Van Buren (Fig. 1). Where bike lanes are proposed, parking will typically be removed from the north side of Kavanaugh and retained on the south side of Kavanaugh to create the space necessary for bike lanes (Fig. 2). However, from midblock between Pine and Cedar to Rose, parking will be on the north side to better serve residents between Pine and Cedar, the Hillcrest Farmer's Market, Pulaski Heights Baptist Church, and Allsopp Park (see also).
This proposed change is in response to Hillcrest's request to make the neighborhood more bikeable in order to alleviate parking congestion in the core Hillcrest Business District. This project would have that benefit as well as traffic calming throughout the corridor, increasing safety for people walking, biking, driving, living, and doing business along this corridor, increasing property values, facilitating sustainable transportation, allowing residents to age in place, and creating a healthier neighborhood with more community connections. This proposal is also important for a city-wide complete bike network. This corridor is identified by the City's adopted Master Bike Plan as a necessary bike corridor. The City's Complete Streets Master Plan contractor confirmed Kavanaugh will remain a vital part of the City's bike network. US DOT/FHWA stated that sharrows are insufficiently safe for Kavanaugh.
The City met with the Hillcrest Residents Association, the Hillcrest Merchants Association, held two public meetings, and accepted public comments. We have spoken to leaders of the Hillcrest Farmer's Market and Pulaski Heights Baptist Church. The majority of public comment was positive, but concerns were also expressed (see also "Project Modifications" and "Public Engagement" below). Given the general support for the project, the City has moved forward with the project and worked to address concerns.
See below for more project details.
Figure 1. Map of where bike lanes and sharrows are proposed on Kavanaugh. This map has more details.
Figure 2. Typical proposed Kavanaugh cross section (see map for more details).
Project Summary Posters from the August 26th Public Meeting
The City has worked with the public comments on the project and modified the proposed design where possible to reflect them. See also "Public Engagement" below.
Parking Shifted to the South: As a result of public comment, we now propose parking be retained on the south side of Kavanaugh wherever there will be bike lanes except in front of Allsopp Park, where parking will be on the north side (Fig. 2 and "Public Engagement, Question #7).
Sharrows Extended to Include Hillcrest Square: Sharrows will also continue in front of Hillcrest Square as a result of public comment (Fig. 16 and "Public Engagement" Question #12).
Modifications for Pulaski Heights Baptist Church and Hillcrest Farmer's Market: We worked directly with the church and farmer's market to better understand their operational needs and consider modifications to the project to meet those needs. While they did express some parking concerns, their primary concern was access for their mobility-challenged patrons/parishioners. As a result, we propose transitioning between north and south parking between Pine and Cedar so that parking will be immediately in front of the church (Fig. 17 and "Public Engagement" Question #13).
Kavanaugh Boulevard between Markham and Van Buren is typically a 40-42 ft. wide street with two lanes separated by a double yellow line. It has a speed limit of 30 mph, but wide lanes (20-21 ft. wide west of Martin if no parked cars) encourage higher vehicular speeds traffic and are less safe for people driving, biking, or walking. Kavanaugh has 7.9K vehicles per day just south of Cantrell (outside the resurfacing zone, but the closest ArDOT estimate). Sidewalks are present throughout, but vary in width and condition. Separating Kavanaugh into five zones (Fig. 3), Zone 1 is a long hill and has fog lanes demarcating parking, Zone 2 is also a long hill east of Oak St. but does not have fog/parking lanes, Zone 3 has the Allsopp Park promenade curb extensions, narrowing Kavanaugh to 35 ft. in places, Zone 4 is the business district, and Zone 5 is designed much like Zone 2.
Figure 3. A map of the Kavanaugh current conditions, divided into five zones.
Are Sharrows Good Enough?
FHWA’s Bikeway Selection Guide (2019) recommends a separated (physically protected) bike lane for Kavanaugh’s speed limit and traffic volume; sharrows do not meet design guidance (Fig. 4). The City of Little Rock had an opportunity to discuss the Kavanaugh corridor, specifically, with FHWA professionals in a virtual workshop; they recommended separated bike lanes if possible, but certainly buffered bike lanes over sharrows. The City of Little Rock's Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator, CLR's Active Transportation Advisory Committee, Strong Towns Little Rock, and Bicycle Advocacy of Central Arkansas all recommend buffered bike lanes over sharrows for this corridor. The City of Little Rock's Complete Streets Master Plan contractor, ALTA Planning + Design, recommends buffered bike lanes over sharrows for this corridor and has identified this corridor as important for our bike network (to be clear, this is not a recreational network, but a network designed to make the bicycle a safe and viable transportation choice).
Figure 4. Bikeway Selection Guide chart showing Kavanaugh's speed limit and traffic volume. Separated bike lanes or a shared use path is recommended (dark blue), there is a large difference between Kavanaugh conditions and sharrows recommendation (white).
Why is there such consensus among professionals that the Kavanaugh corridor, specifically, requires strong separation between cars and bikes? While traffic volume and speed point to separated bike lanes, the specific conditions and use of Kavanaugh makes separation even more important.
Sharrow chevrons (double arrows) show all road users where a bike belongs on the road width (Fig. 5). This positioning does not allow a car to pass in the same lane (Fig. 5). In Arkansas, cars cannot legally cross the double yellow line even to overtake someone on a bike and can become “trapped” behind a slower moving bike. The high speed differential on can frustrate drivers and make the exposed rider anxious about erratic driver behavior. The long climb from Markham to Oak exacerbates this speed differential and user conflict for traffic headed from Markham toward the Hillcrest Business District.
"The sharrows in Hillcrest and the Heights don’t offer appropriate delineation for anyone other than a hardcore cyclist." Rachel C.
In practice, to be polite or to calm potentially frustrated drivers attempting to pass her, a cyclist might do one of two things, each dangerous. She may ride very close to the lane of parked cars. This behavior risks injury from drivers opening their door (a common and dangerous collision known as “dooring”) and encourages drivers to attempt to overtake the cyclist without crossing the double yellow line, providing less than the legally-required three feet of space between car and bike. Alternatively, she may weave into the parking lane (separated by a white line in Zone 1, Fig. 3). However, regular vehicular traffic and parking lanes at ~15% capacity cause frequent conflicts for the rider, requiring her to weave into the parking lane to avoid traffic and out of the parking lane to avoid parked cars. Unpredictable lateral bike movement and sightlines obscured by roadway curves and large parked cars make navigating Kavanaugh in this way stressful and dangerous. For your reference, it is the legal responsibility of the person exiting a vehicle to prevent "dooring".
27-51-1307. Opening door on traffic side. No person shall open the door of a motor vehicle on the side available to moving traffic unless and until it is reasonably safe to do so, nor shall any person leave a door open on the side of a vehicle available to moving traffic for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers.
Is the person driving the bike too concerned about drivers' states of mind or convenience? Possibly, but Little Rock residents who have spent any time bike commuting will tell you the various ways drivers in several-ton vehicles intimidate them (e.g. a comment on BikePed Little Rock in response to the Kavanaugh August 26th public meeting). Several people are killed in Arkansas every year by motorists while driving a bike and Little Rock safety statistics are concerning. Given this, it's no wonder that the top disincentives to commuting by bike are fear of being struck by a car (Tables 1 and 2).
Figure 5. Google streetview showing the lateral movement of a nervous person on a bicycle.
This project is part of a resurfacing project. To maintain the street, the City periodically removes and replaces the top layer of asphalt. Afterwards, striping must be reapplied. Because this redesign would follow resurfacing, it is no more expensive than retaining the current lane configuration.
The main cost of this project is the loss of parallel street parking on the north side of the street. This may require residents to cross the street to access their vehicle or house. However a corridor parking study assessing parking use on each block with ~70 day and night, weekday and weekend observations shows that bike lanes will not reduce parking capacity below use for any altered block (Figs. 6 and 7). See also raw data for Kavanaugh daytime and nighttime parking.
Figure 6. Parking capacity (green and yellow) on Kavanaugh between Markham and Walnut with buffered bike lanes as currently proposed.
Figure 7. Parking capacity (green and yellow) on Kavanaugh between Markham and Walnut with buffered bike lanes as currently proposed.
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.
Traffic Calming: Narrowing traffic lanes calms traffic and creates safer and more welcoming conditions for all road users and the neighborhood (Fig. 8). 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 8. 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.
Safer when Walking: 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. 9).
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 9. 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.
Safer when Biking: Despite all of Kavanaugh's safety challenges and user conflicts (see also Are Sharrows Good Enough?), it has relatively high bicycle traffic. This doesn't refute the mid- to high-stress nature of this corridor, but demonstrates its essential function as a local and regional bicycle connector. Kavanaugh is part of the City of Little Rock's adopted Master Bike Plan and also part of what will soon be over 50 miles of continuous bike facilities, but with only sharrows on a street that warrants better separation from vehicles, it is one of the weakest links in this chain. Creating better bike facilities on Kavanaugh will increase the utility of this entire +50 mile network.
Understand that people rarely drive their bikes on urban streets for recreation; it's much more comfortable to ride on the Arkansas River Trail for that (Table 2). People drive their bikes on the street to get somewhere: work, home, errand, the Arkansas River Trail, etc. Kavanaugh is critical to connecting the City's bike network.
"Observing that few people bike in a place without a good bike network is like saying that you don't need a bridge because nobody is swimming the river." Jeff Speck, Walkable City Rules (2018)
Community Cohesiveness: Giving Hillcrest residents the opportunity to safely and conveniently walk and bike creates face-to-face interactions and chance meetings that promote community.
"Having a bikeable city with dedicated infrastructure helps alleviate parking concerns, builds community and -- what i think is most important right now to Little Rock -- shows drivers that bikers are supposed to use the road. Little Rock drivers are hostile toward bikers on the road." - Guy C.
Increased Property Values: Bike lanes, especially in Hillcrest’s close proximity to the Arkansas River Trail, have the potential to increase property values in Hillcrest, especially on Kavanaugh.
Figure 10. Active transportation options make Little Rock a more attractive place, increasing the quality of our workforce and the incentive for businesses to invest here. Bike lanes on Kavanaugh, specifically, would make Hillcrest a more attractive neighborhood in Little Rock relative to others and increase property values.
Attracting and Retaining Talented Workforce: When choosing where to live, much of the young, creative class workforce wants transportation choice and livability (Fig. 10). If Little Rock wants to be a place that attracts business development, it must invest in the built environment a talented workforce seeks.
"Many cyclists have actually left Central Arkansas to go to NWA due to the bike friendly nature up in NWA's community. I would hate for professional cyclists, families and hobbyists to not feel safe using Kavanaugh on their bike. A designated lane helps ensure cyclists have the space they need to ride safely." - Jenny H.
Aging in Place: Hillcrest residents who depend on a car for most or all of their transportation needs may find it difficult to continue living in their same homes while maintaining mobility and independence in their old ages. Bike lanes on Kavanaugh would provide a car-free transportation option to the Hillcrest Business District.
Sustainable Transportation: Transportation is the largest source of Little Rock metro area’s carbon emissions; our metro area has the most Vehicle Miles Traveled out of 52 comparable communities. Bike lanes will encourage walking and biking for short errands supporting Hillcrest’s local economy over driving more miles to big box stores.
"This increases the safety of our community but also encourages the use of non-vehicle transportation. As we know this is great for our air quality and cuts down on the wear and tear of our roadways. This addition will not only keep people safe, it normalizes and promotes the inclusion of biking as a standard and economical mode of transportation." - Amanda A.
Reduce Hillcrest Business District Parking Demand: When Hillcrest residents can safely bike to the business district for errands, they will more often choose their bike over their car for health, to get fresh air, or because they know they’ll be able to find parking once they get to Hillcrest’s core. Buffered bike lanes will encourage biking to the Hillcrest Business District more than sharrows do (Tables 1 and 2.
Tables 1 and 2. When asked what keeps you from biking more often the four top answers, by far, have to do with a fear of being hit by a car (with Lack of Facilities #1). While Kavanaugh does have sharrows, these do not create separation between bikes and cars and are far less effective at encouraging people to bike than buffered bike lanes.
"...the hills, the curves, the speeds make traveling from Allsopp park to Markham a challenging experience, and one that only vehicular cyclists are likely to attempt." - David M.
Increase Retail Sales: Bike lanes increase retail sales. While this has been shown for many communities, one need look no farther than SoMa to see the transformational potential of bike lanes to a district. In Hillcrest, lack of convenient parking may dissuade Hillcrest residents or people outside of Hillcrest from shopping in the business district altogether. Cedar Hill is the Arkansas River Trail access point for Hillcrest, Stifft Station, and much of the Heights. Convenient bicycle access may encourage a different clientele, River Trail users, to stay, shop, and recover in Hillcrest.
Connections: Kavanaugh bike lanes would make bicycle commuting to/from downtown from Hillcrest and the Heights more feasible. Kavanaugh bike lanes would make access to the Arkansas River Trail from Stifft Station, Hillcrest, or the Heights more comfortable for all ages and abilities.
"I commute to work by bike many times a week, mostly through Hillcrest. Hillcrest is always the most stressful part of my route. Easier and safer connections from the Heights and Hillcrest to downtown for bikers will only benefit these neighborhoods and the City as a whole." - Steve C.
Driver Convenience: On the surface, this reconfiguration appears to serve only people who bike. However, in addition to the other business and neighborhood benefits discussed, drivers are benefitted specifically. Creating a separate space on the roadway for cyclists means that the travel lane is clearer and safer for motorists, especially when speed differentials are high when going uphill.
"I like the idea for the bike lanes on Kavanaugh getting a little redo. Right now, as a car driver, it stresses me out that the cyclists are so close. I'm afraid I might hit someone by accident. "- Katharine H.
Transit: Transit riders must get to a bus stop from their origin and get from a bus stop to their destination. This “last mile” problem is essential to make transit work and even more important in Little Rock where transit coverage is light. Kavanaugh is the Rock Region Metro Route #1; making Kavanaugh more bikeable increases transit access.
Safe Routes to Schools: Kavanaugh is an important Safe Routes to Schools corridor for Pulaski Heights Elementary, Pulaski Heights Middle School, and Mount Saint Mary’s Academy.
Safe Routes to Parks: Allsopp Park North, Allsopp Park South, War Memorial Park, Little Rock Zoo, six additional parks along Tri-Creek Greenway.
The City met with the Hillcrest Residents Association, the Hillcrest Merchants Association, twice sent out individual postal mail notices of the project to all Kavanaugh-addressed residences and business affected, twice made announcements in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, twice published the project and how to comment on the City calendar, held a (virtual) public meeting (June 22nd), discussed operational concerns with the Hillcrest Farmer’s Market and the Pulaski Heights Baptist Church, held an in-person public meeting on August 26th, accepted public comments through email, social media, and a web portal and will continue accepting public comments through September 9th.
The majority of compiled public comments to date has been positive, but concerns were also expressed. The City has worked with the substance of those concerns and modified the project where possible to mitigate concerns. We are listening and responding to your questions and concerns. Here are some of the questions and comments we've gotten about the project. They have been paraphrased for brevity/clarity/aggregation.
Question #1: Will there be enough parking? Jessica B., Jill B., Pat F., Jessica C., Linda C.
Currently, parking is typically unrestricted on either side of Kavanaugh, but it is not heavily used. Trading parking on the north side of the street to create a stronger bicycle corridor would not decrease parking capacity below current, unrestricted parking use for any block, day or night (Figs. 6 and 7).
Question #2: Will be buffers be concrete curbs or just paint? Concrete curbs are better. Courtney C., Matthew B.
It’s true that separated bike lanes (physically protected) are safer, encourage more ridership, and are the FHWA-recommended facility type for this street’s traffic volume and speed limit (Figs. 4 and 11-12). The buffer will only be paint at this time. Physically protected bike lanes are beyond the budget of this resurfacing project. However, this project would create the space necessary to create a physical protection on the north (uphill) side in the future (physical protection won't be possible on the south so that vehicles can access parallel parking).
Figure 11. A small percentage of the population is willing to bike on a street with no separation from vehicular traffic, but a much larger percentage would bike if that separation existed (pg. 5).
Figure 12. When potential bicycle riders are categorized by their stress tolerance, the largest pool of people fall into the "Interested but Concerned" category (Fig. 11). Designing facilities for this group maximizes the impact on ridership. Quality of the bike facility is critically important in its efficacy for this group and overall. A separated bike lane has a much greater impact on ridership than a standard bike lane Figure from NACTO report, pg. 6.
Question #3: How will parking capacity on side streets be affected? Bruce S.
Side street parking use was not quantified in the parking study, but both day and night anecdotal observations while doing the Kavanaugh parking study show capacity exceeds current demand there as well. There could be some intermittent parking spillover onto side streets, but this should not be dramatic or typical since Kavanaugh’s capacity remains above current demand for all blocks.
Question #4: Why not have a parking-protected bike lane? Courtney C., Katharine H., Jane A., Heather D.
Definition: A parking-protected bike lane puts the lane of parked cars in between the travel lane and the bike lane, thereby creating a physical barrier (row of parked cars) in between bikes and cars.
We considered a parking-protected bike lane, but they require a no parking zones for driveway and side street access to preserve sightlines between bikes in the lane and motorists (e.g. Fig. 13). Because of the frequency of driveways and side streets, no parking zones would reduce parking capacity below current demand.
Figure 13. Note that, with a parking protected bike lane and one major parking lot access point midblock, that Louisiana St. between 8th and 9th Streets has only five parallel parking spots because of the no parking buffers that must be created in order for people driving to see people biking and visa versa. Kavanaugh blocks often have more than one property access point and high enough parking demand that this type of facility would not allow the street to meet current parking demands.
Question #5: I like the idea of bike lanes on Kavanaugh, but why not create a shared use (walking and biking) sidepath on the north side of Kavanaugh instead? James W.
This recommendation is consistent with FHWA guidance that a street with Kavanaugh's characteristics should either have physically protected bike lanes or a sidepath (Fig. 4). There are two reasons this design is not being considered at this time.
5a) Crossing conflicts: First, understand that bicycle traffic can travel at 20+ mph, especially when going downhill. Then consider the number of driveways and side streets on Kavanaugh that would create crossing conflicts for a sidepath and the limited slightlines created by Kavanaugh's curves. Drivers entering the roadway are looking for traffic conflicts on the roadway but may not see conflicts on the sidepath (especially when bike traffic is coming from the "wrong" direction on a two-way facility). Also, drivers may block the sidepath with their car as they wait to enter Kavanaugh. While sidepath users may perceive higher safety vs. on the proposed buffered bike lanes, it's not clear that the sidepath would actually be safer in this case. This is also why the City is not proposing a two-way cycletrack on Kavanaugh (which would be more feasible than a sidepath for this project right now, given the 5b constraint below).
5b) No Budget: Kavanaugh bike lanes are being considered now because Kavanaugh is being resurfaced on the 2021 maintenance schedule. When the City resurfaces a street, all lane markings are removed and must be replaced. This is an opportunity to critically consider if the street is optimally designed for the safety and comfort of all users or not and if not, propose alternative striping without additional financial cost. Creating a sidepath in this corridor, on the other hand, would have a significant financial cost. The curb would have to be moved and/or right-of-way would have to be secured and the sidepath would have to be built. That is outside of the scope of this opportunity.
Question #6: Why can't people ride a bicycle on the sidewalk instead of creating bike lanes? Jill B.
For some of Kavanaugh, this would be illegal, and for all of Kavanaugh, this would be unsafe for an adult riding a bike and for pedestrians on the sidewalk.
§ 32-494 – No person shall ride a bike upon a sidewalk in a business district (City of Little Rock Municipal Code)
Understand that an adult riding a bike is typically travelling ~12-20+ mph. Sidewalks are often uneven (i.e. tree roots pushing up sections) and incomplete, making them an unsafe facility for an adult on a bike even without anyone else around. Sidewalks are designed for pedestrian movement and so, if an adult riding a bike were to ride on the sidewalk, she would be sharing the ~5 ft. wide sidewalk with pedestrians. Minimum recommended width for a shared-use facility (i.e. paved trail) is 10 ft. wide; people walking and biking simply don't have enough room to share this space safely (Fig. 14).
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, sidewalks cross driveways and side streets. Drivers do not (and should not) expect a use conflict from bicycle traveling 12-20+ mph coming from the sidewalk. In practice, drivers coming from a driveway or side street will stop and wait for traffic to clear while their vehicle is blocking the sidewalk so that they can get a clearer view of Kavanaugh traffic. Car and bicycle operators cannot see one another to avoid a collision given the speed with which the bicycle travels.
Figure 14. Sidewalks aren't designed for bicycles. Especially in high pedestrian traffic areas like the Kavanaugh corridor, riding a bicycle on a sidewalk creates dangers for people walking and biking.
Question #7: Could the parking be on the south/west side of the street instead? Jessica B., Hannah V., Alexandra H., Tom C., Lou and Melinda T.
This was a comment/concern we received from several residents and, reviewing videos of parking use, where there was a preference for the north vs. the south side of the street, there was typically more parking on the south side (Figs. 6-7, Blocks 1, 2, 5, 18 and 19, but see Block 12). We therefore modified the project to reflect this community priority. Parking is now proposed to typically be on the south side of the street. Parking will transition to the north side in front of Allsopp Park because curb bump outs make this the only side parking can be retained and still allow bike lanes.
Question #8: A major problem on Kavanaugh / in the city is speeding traffic. How would this project calm traffic? Bruce S., Ed L., Jim M.
Narrowing lane widths is a proven traffic calming technique promoted by US DOT and FHWA. Highway lanes are 12 ft. wide in order to safely allow some lateral movement at highway speeds. However, when lanes are this wide or wider on city streets, it induces faster driving speed. Narrowing the lanes, and creating a visible space for bicycles, are both visual cues that this is a 30 mph street. The project also contains a lateral shift between Pine and Cedar. When the lateral shift is created with a design speed matching the speed limit of the street, as will be done here (30 mph), it serves as a proven traffic calming technique. Finally, bicycle and pedestrian placemaking through infrastructure, and the resulting increase in bicycle and pedestrian activity, will both serve to calm traffic.
Question #9: Could these changes make conditions more dangerous for pedestrians? Bruce S.
This project will improve pedestrian safety in several important ways (see Fig. 15 and Benefits above).
"YES to bike lanes on Kavanaugh! Like it or not, Kavanaugh is one of the most popular streets used by cyclists, runners and walkers in the city. Early in the morning, on most days, you would think some kind of running event was taking place from 5:30 a.m. until well after 8:00 a.m. I am one of those early morning users and I see it first hand." Emil M.
Figure 15. Google streetview illustrating how bike lanes protect pedestrians on sidewalks and parked cars.
Comment #10: The real problem on Kavanaugh is cars going too fast and cars hitting Kavanaugh's parallel parked cars. Jim M. and Virtual Meeting
This is a criticism of how the street functions in its current design. This redesign should improve both of these concerns. First, narrowing the lane width and creating visual cues that this is a multimodal corridor should calm traffic (see also Questions 8 and 18). Second, this design will create a ~7 ft. buffer between moving cars and parked cars where now there is none (Fig. 15).
"...parked cars and the people exiting them would have more space separated from bike lanes and traffic" Lisa M.
Comment #11: Parking on the northside of Kavanaugh would be bad for our businesses and there won't be enough parking for our businesses between Pine and Oak Jessica C., Linda C.
In part as a result of this input, the City proposes to switch the parking to the south side of the street, as preferred by these businesses, so that patrons can park on the same side of the street as the businesses. Regarding the amount of available parking, the project will retain eight parallel parking spots between Pine and Oak, four between the Rock Region Metro stop and the alley and four between the garage access and the no parking sign before Oak.
Typical, unrestricted parking demand is four cars during the day and four cars at night. 69 parking observations, day and night, weekday and weekend, show that these eight spots would not only meet average parking demand but also peak parking demand for this block. Interrupting the bike lane for this block would increase the overall stress of this corridor and is not warranted based on parking use.
Comment #12: This project would remove necessary parking for Hillcrest Square. Nallery C.
While our data do not support this assertion, business hour peak parking demand can sometimes approach capacity, and parking demand functions like the business district for this block (Fig. 19). Also this block was originally proposed to be the start of the western edge of the bike lanes (so their start can be pushed back a bit and not interrupt a continuous corridor). Therefore, we propose to retain parking on both sides of the street directly in front of Hillcrest Square and start the bike lanes midblock (Fig. 16). This will allow a meaningful bicycle corridor between Van Buren and the Hillcrest Business District and narrow lanes up to the District to calm traffic immediately adjacent to the District.
Figure 16. This is the revised proposed lane configuration between Spruce and Pine. Parking is retained along the entire block on the south side and retained on the north side immediately in front of Hillcrest Square. Bike lanes start midblock and continue west.
Question #13: I'm for the bike lanes, if you can accommodate parking for the Hillcrest Farmer's Market. How would this project affect the Hillcrest Farmer's Market? Kimberly G.
This is another example of the importance of community engagement on projects like this. The City worked directly with Hillcrest Farmer's Market and Pulaski Heights Baptist Church to better understand their needs for this space and accommodate those needs as best as possible with the project. From these conversations, we learned that they are not as concerned about parking capacity as they are with access to mobility-challenged patrons and parishioners. They were most concerned about losing the spaces directly in front of the church as originally proposed.
Based on their input, the City modified the project to transition a block east, between Cedar and Pine so that parking would be on the north (church) side for the farmer's market and church (Fig. 17). This block is currently used for parking, but typically only two cars during the day and three cars at night. Unlike most of the corridor, current parking demand is on the northside; this project modification will help this block function better for residents as well.
Figure 17. Transitioning parking between Pine and Cedar will make the street function better for the the Hillcrest Farmer's Market, Pulaski Heights Baptist Church, and the residents of the block between Pine and Cedar.
Question #14: On the side of the street with parking, couldn't you put the buffer between the row of parked cars and the bike lane to prevent “dooring”? Virtual Public Meeting
The short answer is yes. There are two dangers that buffers could mitigate. A buffer between the travel lane and the bike lane (as proposed), a "travel side buffer", offers greater protection from a driver drifting into the bike lane, large mirrors on a vehicle, etc. A "parking side buffer" offers protection against dooring. These are both important concerns, but road width is insufficient to create both. Either is defensible; NACTO has design guidance for both (for travel side buffer bike lanes, NACTO recommends the bike lane be at least five feet wide to allow people to ride within the bike lane out of the door zone).
The City is currently proposing to install a "travel lane buffer" for three reasons. First, parallel parked cars on residential Kavanaugh have low turnover. While dooring is still an important concern, it is not as important as it would be if we were establishing these lanes in a business district with high parking turnover. Second, travel lane buffers may increase perceived safety more than a "parking side buffer" and therefore be more effective at increasing ridership; increasing ridership also increases actual safety). Third, given narrowing the travel lane to 10 ft. (Question #18), a travel side buffer would be an added safety measure for mirrors on large vehicles. If you prefer a "parking side buffer" instead, please submit comments reflecting that preference.
Question #15: Couldn't the buffer be wider? Katharine H.
Ideally the buffer would be wider. Buffers will likely approach the 18 inch NACTO-recommended minimum width. However, the street design is constrained by the street width and the competing needs. We need to retain parallel parking on one side of the road and two travel lanes. Because of frequent driveways and sidestreets, there are arguably too many crossing conflicts for a two-way cycletrack. The City has attempted to optimize the street width available for the safety of people on bikes and all street users.
Question #16: I am for the bike lanes, but how will you handle trash pick-up? Maggie H.
Trash cans should be left on the curb (not in the bike lane). Trash and recycle trucks will enter the bike lane to collect the refuse. If a person on a bike wishes to pass a truck in the bike lane, it is her responsibility to check for conflicting traffic and merge into the travel lane.
Question #17: Regarding Block 19, between Jackson and Van Buren, how will the intersection change? Brian T.
Actually, not much.
West half: Traffic flow and parking would not change at all on the west half. There would still be a left turn lane and bicycle traffic would have to merge with vehicular traffic as it does now. There still would not be on-street parking allowed on this half of the block (Fig. 18).
East half: Parking would be removed on the north side of the east half of the block, however, in over 50 parking audits, we never saw a car parked on this part of the block. Parking on the south half of the block would improve by 1) buffering the parked cars with a bike lane and buffer and 2) creating delineated space on the street sufficient to fit vehicles so that residents don't feel the need to park halfway onto the sidewalk (a common occurrence on this block). Parking capacity would more than meet parking need (typically ~1-2 overnight).
Figure 18. Concept for Kavanaugh bike lanes on Block 19 between N. Jackson and Van Buren.
Question #18: If travel lanes are narrowed to 10' wide, how will fire trucks (almost 10 ft. wide themselves from mirror to mirror) get through safely? Pat & Cathy F.
This is an understandable concern, but it is the discomfort of narrow travel lanes that reduces speeding. Narrowing the travel lanes to 10 ft. wide isn't a compromise to fit in bike lanes; it is a intentional part of the project to slow traffic. Interstate highway travel lanes have a 12 ft. wide lane width standard and invite travel speeds of 75+ mph. When those standards creep into urban streets, they begin to look like highways and people tend to drive at highway speeds. Lane width affects driver behavior. Wider lanes induce speeding, narrower lanes reduce speeding.
Moreover, lanes wider than 10 ft. have a higher risk for high crash severity. To be blunt, the Little Rock metro area has a car vs. pedestrian safety problem. Even though pedestrian safety is a City "Must Do" policy, the latest three Smart Growth America Dangerous by Design reports show that we are one of the most dangerous places to walk in the country. Kavanaugh has a posted speed limit of 30 mph, but its design speed is higher, which induces speeding. The difference in pedestrian visibility and car vs. pedestrian crash outcomes at 30mph vs. 40mph is dramatic (Fig. 9).
This is why the ITE Traffic Engineering Handbook 7th Edition states that "Ten feet should be the default width for general purpose lanes at speeds of 45 mph or less." LRFD is in the business of public safety and saving lives; 10 ft. wide travel lanes are a proven way to do this.
"Lane widths of 10 feet are appropriate in urban areas and have a positive impact on a street's safety without impacting traffic operations." National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO).
Comment #19: There is an 18 unit apartment building at Kavanaugh and Ridgeway that will open soon. Parking counts are artificially low in this location because that apartment building is not currently open. Pat & Cathy F.
The blocks relevant to this discussion are "Block 9" and "Block 10" (Fig. 6). With the proposed changes, Block 9 would have 12 parallel parking spots and Block 10 would have 10 parallel parking spots on Kavanaugh (Fig. 6). It is true that much of our data was collected by direct observation in 2021, however we have used all available Google streetview images to better understand historic parking demand from 2007-2019.
If measured parking demand for Blocks 9 and 10 were artificially low because of this renovation, parking use from 2007-2011 should be higher than directly observed parking use. It is not (see day and night parking data and below or see for yourself). However, Google streetview data only include parking demand in the daytime. How can we know whether or not historic night parking demand was affected by the operating apartment complex?
There is a strong relationship between a block's day parking demand and night parking demand. If all blocks are considered, day parking demand explains 71% of the variation of night parking demand (Fig. 19). If Block 17 is removed, the outlier on Fig. 19 because it functions more like business district parking with daytime parking demand far higher than night parking demand (see also Comment #12), day parking demand explains 96% of the variation in night parking demand (Fig. 20). Because historic day parking demand is no higher than 2021 parking demand, Figures 19 and 20 provide strong evidence that historic night parking demand is no higher than 2021.
Figure 19. Relationship between day vs. night parking demand by block. The outlier is "Block 17" which has a parking pattern more reflective of the Hillcrest Business District, with higher daytime demand than nighttime demand.
Figure 20. Relationship between a block's daytime vs. nighttime parking demand excluding "Block 17".
In sum, by using direct observations and historic observations, we can be confident that parking demand on Blocks 9 and 10, day or night, has not come close to the parking capacity these blocks would have with bike lanes from 2007-present.
Capacity with bike lanes = 12
Average day parking, May-August 2021 (direct observations) = 4.33 mean / 4.5 median
Average day parking, historic (Google streetview, 2007-2019) = 4.33 mean / 4 median
Average night parking, May-August 2021 (direct observations) = 5.9 mean / 6 median
Estimated night parking, historic (2007-2019) via regression equation = (4.33-0.2189)/0.7168 = 5.74 cars
(Block 9 would have a 12 car parallel parking capacity with bike lanes)
Capacity with bike lanes = 10
Average day parking (direct observations) = 1.67 mean / 2 median
Historic day parking (Google streetview, 2007-2019) = 1.0 mean / 1 median
Average night parking, May-August 2021 (direct observations) = 2.4 mean / 2 median
Estimated night parking, historic (2007-2019) via regression equation = (1-0.2189)/0.7168 = 1.09 cars
(Block 10 would have a 10 car parallel parking capacity with bike lanes)
Question #20: Taxes are levied on motor vehicles to pay for street maintenance. Why should they pay for bike infrastructure? Pat F.
20a) Kavanaugh is not a state or federal highway; its maintenance is not funded through gas tax. The Kavanaugh resurfacing project was paid for by the 2012 Sales Tax and Bond Program, funding sources not tied to motor vehicles.
20b) Kavanaugh is being resurfaced as part of necessary street maintenance. This includes removing and replacing the top layer of asphalt and, with it, all current striping. Restriping will be necessary; any cost difference between restriping with or without bike lanes would be negligible to overall project costs.
20c) The majority of bicycle owners, especially in Little Rock, also own and operate a motor vehicle(s) and pay their associated fees
Question #21: Why change for a narrow special interest? Randy J. and Samuel W.
As noted above, improving conditions for bicycle transportation does not just benefit people who ride bikes. Bike lanes on Kavanaugh would benefit the comfort and safety of all street users and residents along Kavanaugh. They would help our local businesses and keep our wealth in Little Rock. This proposal would raise Hillcrest’s property values and help strengthen Hillcrest’s community by increasing social interaction. It would increase community health and decrease our transportation carbon footprint. It would allow current residents to age in place and allow more independence for their children. This is why the City of Little Rock supports Complete Streets in its Resolution, Ordinance, goals, agenda, policy statements, and Mission/Vision. Kavanaugh is an identified bike corridor in our adopted Master Bike Plan, obligating the City to consider the suitability of this corridor for bike transportation in resurfacing projects, the Federal Highway Administration Bikeway Selection Guide, our Complete Streets Master Plan contractor (ALTA Planning + Design), and US DOT / FHWA staff considering the Kavanaugh corridor specifically consider sharrows insufficiently protective for Kavanaugh.
"It will increase property values in the area and along the street, it will encourage healthy living (biking and walking), it will slow the cars down, which is a problem right now in our city. It is win-win-win all the way around. I love the design the city has proposed, and fully support it." Ed L.