Report Outlines Successes, Lessons Learned, and Next Steps

BENTONVILLE, AR May 25, 2017—The final report on a series of month-long bicycle infrastructure pilot projects that took place in Bella Vista, Bentonville, and Rogers in the fall of 2016 has been released, outlining successes, lessons learned, and next steps for making Northwest Arkansas a better place for bikes. Funded by the Walton Family Foundation, the initiative was spearheaded by the Northwest Arkansas Regional Planning Commission and BikeNWA, with the national urban planning firm Street Plans providing expert counsel.

According to the report, the Bella Vista project—which closed the loop around Lake Bella Vista and linked the Razorback Greenway to the Blowing Springs Trail System and Cooper Elementary School to the north—was well-received by cyclists, pedestrians, and motorists, suggesting that the temporary installation should be made permanent. In Bentonville, where the team sought to connect the Downtown Trail to the Square, survey data indicate that a more thorough assessment of cyclists’ needs should be conducted before settling on permanent infrastructure improvements. In Rogers, new bike facilities connecting the downtown with various recreational destinations reduced the availability of storefront parking for cars, raising concerns among business owners. Though studies have shown that bike infrastructure is good for retail businesses, one month was not enough time for the economic boon to materialize, leading the project team to conclude that temporary changes like those made in Rogers should be left in place for a longer time span.

These pilot projects brought principles of Tactical Urbanism—a process committed to low-budget, site-specific, rapid-turnaround, community-guided “test before you invest” solutions—to bear on unique challenges faced by each city. In all three instances, the primary goal was to create safe, low-stress connections between important destinations for people riding bikes. Click here to read the full report.

BikeNWA is currently exploring options for future bike infrastructure pilot projects in the region.