Lake Fayetteville soft-surface nature trail could become one-way route for cyclists

A cyclist approaches a blind curve while riding along the singletrack nature trail at Lake Fayetteville.

Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer

The singletrack nature trail surrounding Lake Fayetteville could soon become a one-way route for cyclists.

The city’s Parks and Recreation Department is asking for input on a proposed change that would make the soft-surface path unidirectional for mountain bikers.

The idea was brought forth by representatives from Ozark Off Road Cyclists and the Bicycle Coalition of the Ozarks as a way to increase safety and enhance the experience for those who use the trail.

Aside from reducing the chances of a head-on bicycle collision, mountain bikers stand to gain plenty from a unidirectional route on a narrow, singletrack trail.

Brannon Pack, executive director of OORC, said one-way routes give cyclists more continuity in their ride if they rarely have to stop and let others pass. Riders also can enjoy more perceived solitude, he said, even during peak usage times. Plus, the quality of the trail itself would be better preserved if less riders were passing each other, which can contribute to the undesired widening of the route in certain areas.

Pack said bike shops and organizations like his often send people to Lake Fayetteville to try mountain biking for the first time. Because of its mildly technical terrain, the trail serves as the first exposure for a lot of beginning riders.

“We want to make sure that as a community we’re fostering the right environment for that,” he said. “And we really see Lake Fayetteville serving the public that way.”

The new rule would not apply to anyone traveling on foot, but hikers, joggers and dog walkers could also benefit from the proposal.

“If you’re out there hiking, you’ll know which way the bicycles are coming from and your response will be more natural if you come across one,” said Pack. “The experience would be much better for everyone.”

Members of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board on Monday agreed that a one-way route is a good idea, but said the logistics could be challenging.

For starters, no cyclist wants to be limited to a permanent, one-way route. Just like when riding on the road, descending on a particular segment can be every bit as fun as climbing that same hill in reverse.

Pack suggested implementing a rotating system based on the day of the week, or even the day of the month. For example, bicycle traffic could flow clockwise on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and counterclockwise on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, Pack said. Or cyclists could ride clockwise on even days of the month and counterclockwise on odd days.

Regardless of which days are chosen, Pack said education of the new rules should be targeted at all user groups.

Board members on Monday discussed several types of signage that would indicate the day’s flow. The signs could be simple, with only words and directional markers. Or, Pack said, self-regulating signs with movable arrows could be used to show which direction to ride on a particular day.

Temporary signs would likely be installed before the new rule goes into effect, followed by permanent signage at certain entry points. Pack said his organization could contribute $1,000 to the project.

The board is set to continue discussion of the proposal next month.

Alison Jumper, the city’s park planning superintendent, said the parks department would like suggestions on which days the traffic flow should change and any other comments the public can contribute about the proposal. Those wishing to give input should email [email protected].

Take a photo tour

With a possible change on the horizon to make the Lake Fayetteville natural surface trail a one-way route for mountain bikers, we thought it’d be fun to spend a couple of hours on the trail with a camera to show unfamiliar folks what the area looks like. Check it out here or click the photo below.