Proposed bikeway would link Frisco Trail to downtown square

City Engineer Chris Brown (left) discusses options for alerting motorists of possible changes to a downtown intersection during a meeting of the Fayetteville Street Committee Tuesday afternoon.

Photo: Todd Gill

Cyclists in Fayetteville could soon have a new option for traveling from the city’s trail system to the downtown area.

The Fayetteville Street Committee is considering a proposal by Alderman Matthew Petty for what is being called the Spring Street Bikeway, a clearly marked route that would follow Spring Street east from Frisco Trail to Block and East Avenues, creating a connection to the downtown square.

If successful, the concept could be duplicated in other areas of town as a cost-effective way of further promoting cycling by expanding Fayetteville’s alternative transportation network.

“We should think of bikeways as another tool in the toolbox,” said Petty, who is one of four council members who serve on the Street Committee. Petty said when built correctly, bikeways can help close the gaps between neighborhoods and trailheads.

Proposed Spring Street Bikeway route

Source: City of Fayetteville

Petty said potential cyclists look for three things when considering a route. “It has to be safe, it has to be comfortable and then it has to be clear in how to do it.” He said bikeways should incorporate each of those criteria if they’re to be accepted by cyclists as adequate routes between trails and popular destinations.

Required changes

Converting Spring Street to an official bikeway would require a few changes to the area. The 4-way stop at Spring and School would be changed to a 2-way stop, and the 2-way stop that requires traffic on Spring Street to stop at Church Avenue would be swapped, requiring motorists on Church to stop at Spring. Those reconfigurations would create an unrestricted traffic flow on Spring Street from West to Block avenues.

Other changes would include the addition of sharrow symbols on East Avenue and the placement of signage to help cyclists with wayfinding and to help alert drivers that they’re likely to see cyclists on the road with them.

Chris Brown, city engineer, said the cost for the proposed improvements would be about $1,500.

Committee member Brenda Boudreaux and chairman Bobby Ferrell said they thought the idea was great, but neither were immediately thrilled about reconfiguring the 4-way stop at Spring and School.

“That’s been recognized for quite some time as a 4-way stop there,” said Boudreaux. “I’m concerned about the safety issue of making motorists aware that it’s no longer a 4-way stop. That’s going to take some signage and lots of it.”

City staff will soon begin a traffic study to determine whether a 4-way stop at the intersection of Spring Street and School Avenue could be converted into a 2-way stop.

Source: City of Fayetteville

Brown said there are several options for alerting motorists of a reconfigured intersection. “Signs begin to blend into the background when you become used to them,” he said. “So what you want to do is make them stand out.”

Brown said double stop signs, additional placards or temporary orange flags could be installed to help draw attention to the changes. “We could do any or all of those,” he said.

Petty said while he agrees Fayetteville residents have some institutional knowledge of how that intersection works, he urged the committee not to use that as an excuse to avoid a change that could be better in the long run.

“I think this is the perfect demo area for this concept,” he said. “Plus, it’s the least steep route to the square.”

Brown said there was no history of any formal justification of a 4-way stop there, but that his department could perform a traffic study to determine proper sign alignment if that’s what the committee wanted.

The group voted unanimously to order the in-house study and to put the proposal on hold until the results were in. The issue will likely be back on the table at the committee’s next regularly scheduled meeting in July.