City council discusses characteristics of cycle paths
City administrators discussed features of the remaining cycle lanes that were still in place at the intersection of North Carl Street and West Harvard Street as well as those on South Maxwell Street at the city’s board meeting on Tuesday.
The facilities, which were part of a 2018 municipal project to install bicycle lanes in parts of Siloam Springs, have not been well maintained, according to manager David Allen.
City engineer Justin Bland gave an overview of the bike project and the removal of the majority of bike lane features in January of last year.
The bike path pilot project was installed in the fall of 2018 and left in place for a year, Bland said. He described the original route as fixing Carl and Harvard, then down Harvard to Elm Street, then east on Jefferson Street near the library, then to Maxwell Street.
After reviewing the route, the city decided to design a new cycle path, which would start at the same location but bypass Elm and continue towards Harvard to Maxwell, Bland said.
“The intention was to connect the end of the walking trail to the city center and thus provide a loop for the walking trail,” said Bland.
Staff also felt that keeping the project on Harvard would be more economical, Bland said. The city also added a warning beacon last year to the Harvard and South Mount Olive Street crosswalk, Bland said. Staff would be prepared to remove the features if the board so wishes, Bland said.
Allen said he requested this review because the flexible sidewalk and other features left in place had not been well maintained. Allen went so far as to describe the flexible sidewalk at the intersection of Carl and Harvard as being “crushed”.
“It doesn’t appear to perform the functions it was designed for and this was brought up on January 20 to be left for a year and hasn’t been discussed since then,” Allen said.
Allen shared photos with city council and local media detailing the deterioration in bike lane characteristics and said he used the route and had not seen any bikers using it. Allen said the retarders were good, but called the flexible brakes a joke.
Allen also pointed to a pedestrian sign placed in the middle of the road on Maxwell saying it confused people.
“It’s just a nuisance and a real mess when you drive over there,” Allen said.
Director Mindy Hunt agreed with Allen, even saying that she’s seen people bypass the speed bumps on Carl and Harvard and wondered if another option might not be better.
Echoing Hunt’s comments, principal Marla Sappington said she has also seen people bypassing speed bumps and worried about children leaving Southside Elementary and heading to the Boys & Girls Club.
“It creates another danger when people rush around them,” Sappington said. “I worry about the children.”
Director Brad Burns defended the bike project saying it seemed like a good deal and the devices were free. Burns also explained that he saw many cyclists cycling late at night when the humidity was lower.
“I’m just glad we experienced this, and I think connectivity, bypassing and securing places for kids is still a priority,” Burns said.
City administrator Phillip Patterson said he would remove features from the remaining bike lanes if the board so wanted and said he wanted to look at the sign Allen was talking about and before deciding what must be done.
Community Development Director Don Clark said the sign on Maxwell was meant to grab people’s attention when a car is not parked in the adjacent parking space. He also said the flexible sidewalk made it difficult for people to venture into that parking lot.
Clark also commented on the Carl and Harvard intersection, saying the city is aware of people dodging speed bumps and said one option would be to install a speed table there similar to the one in front of the library, but was reluctant to start construction as the Harvard Street Side Path was due to be built in 2020.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the secondary path project was withdrawn from the 2020 budget and currently the city is seeking grants to build the secondary path based on the recommendations of the board of directors.
The city directors also discussed and approved the following points:
• Minutes of the regular meeting of June 1st.
• Dedication of utility easements for block 100 of Dogwood Place.
• Resolution 27-21 regarding a grant request from the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management Hazard Mitigation for the Willow Court detention pond.
• Resolution 28-21 regarding an alternative transportation program grant request by the Northwest Arkansas Regional Planning Commission for the North Mount Olive Street sidewalk.
• Resolution 29-21 regarding a request for a Surface Transportation Block Grant Program by the Northwest Arkansas Regional Planning Commission for the engineering design of improvements to East Kenwood Street.
Contracts and approvals
• Approval of a contract in the amount of $ 58,629 for the rental of a printer-copier from AAA Business Systems Incorporated.
• Resolution 26-21 concerning the city’s commitment to an ADA (American with Disabilities Act) fishing wharf
• Adoption of ordinance 21-08 concerning the rezoning of block 2900 of Cheri Whitlock Drive from A-1 (Agriculture) to C-2 (Commercial route) and GI (General institutional) at second reading.
• Pass Ordinance 21-09 concerning the rezoning of 1803 Dawn Hill Road from A-1 (agriculture) to R-2 (residential) at second reading with Director Reid Carroll recusing himself for personal reasons.
• Adoption of ordinance 21-10 concerning the rezoning of 3550, highway 412 E. from I-2 (light industry) to C-2 (commercial route) at second reading.
• Adoption of ordinance 21-11 concerning the annexation of 12.25 acres of block 2100 of highway 16 on first reading, Allen abstaining from voting due to the involvement of a member of his family in the project.
• Adopting Order 21-12 respecting the annexation of 22.05 acres of block 24400 of Raines Road on first reading.
• Order 21-13 issuing an exemption from competition and declaration of emergency to have only one reading of the order in first and only reading.
• Tree City update
• Proposed changes to body art zoning.
• Administrator’s report.
Photo Submitted Director David Allen took a photo of the crumbling speed table at the intersection of South Carl Street and West Harvard Street. Allen said he took the photo to show how the speed table was not being maintained. Director Mindy Hunt also said the vehicles rolled around the speed table, thwarting their goal.