The welcome center on I-40 as you enter Arkansas near Ft. Smith makes you want to move there. They do their job well. Oak and hickory woodsmoke from the stone fireplace percolates through the air as you make your way across the lawn to the front doors. The shelves are full of promotional materials to browse. I walk up to the counter and there are two hosts. I say I’m interested in bicycling and she reaches and gathers up three or four brochures as thick as magazines. Lots of cycling here. By the free coffee, a flat screen plays bicycling videos. Riders glide on trails through the woods underneath sheets of layered rock with waterfalls running over them. On the next scene road bicyclists ride socially on Ozark country lanes. Then the video shows families and friendly groups cycling together on the Razorback Greenway. It made me feel very excited and welcome to bicycle, and showed Arkansas is set up for bicycling.
We stayed with my Aunt in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Her neighborhood connects to the Razorback Greenway. The Razorback Greenway is a 36 paved multiuse trail between Fayetteville and Bella Vista. It’s a game changer for making the region a bicycling destination. I want to go back and ride the entire length. On this trip I had a chance to explore the loop around Lake Fayetteville. It is one of the many spur trails in local communities now interconnected by the main trail.
The Walton Family Foundation has built strong partnerships with regional agencies to get this trail completed. When my Aunt moved here the trail was in progress, and because it was one of the reasons she relocated to Fayetteville, she followed up with the Mayor to let him know what an important foundation it was for quality of life. They must have heard from a chorus of voices because they finished the project in May 2015. The is one sweet trail. It took me into parts of the woods and revealed nature that would otherwise be hidden. Quiet and still.
The trail speed limit is moderate out of courtesy to the wide range of users. We modify our speed based on conditions, the presence of people being the most important factor. I don’t mind slowing down and I found the trail design and culture quite suitable for a satisfying cruise with the road bike. When I want to ride faster I use public roads. Pedestrian safety comes first, and bicyclists always yield to pedestrians and equestrians. Building up this culture of sensitivity, inclusiveness and patience is key on our trails and public roads.
It was a peaceful morning ride and helped me focus before Grandma’s birthday. The way the world moves feels right on a bicycle. Let’s build more of these and welcome more bikes.
Walmart’s support http://www.waltonfamilyfoundation.org/our-impact/home-region/nwatrails
Walmart’s Bike Friendly Headquarters http://bikeleague.org/content/bfb-spotlight-walmart-hq
Arkansas Wild, Bike Volume 2 http://www.arkansaswild.com/archive/
NW Arkansas Regional Bike Ped Master Plan http://www.nwabikepedplan.com/
Arkansas Outdoors, Bicycling http://www.arkansas.com/outdoors/biking/
Bike League report card 2015 http://bikeleague.org/content/report-cards
Tim Ernst Photography http://timernstphotography.zenfolio.com/p431024935