By JENNIFER BOYETT

SPECIAL TO THE LOG CABIN

Noticed anything new on the streets of Conway lately? Share the road signs, sharrows, and bike lanes have begun to appear, and bike racks are coming soon.

Share the road signs have already begun to appear on several streets around town with many more expected on additional streets in 2010. These signs are intended to encourage both motorists and bicyclists to offer mutual respect for a shared right in the use of city streets. 

Symbols called "sharrows" are also being painted on city streets. These bicycle symbols with arrows above are intended to educate cyclists about their positioning on the road and the proper direction to ride in a lane. Sharrows remind drivers that cyclists also have a right to ride on the road.

Bike lanes will be added to several city streets this year as well. These lanes will help define road space and provide encouragement for new cyclists to ride on the road with the flow of traffic, instead of on sidewalks.  Bike lanes also decrease the stress of riding in traffic, especially for new cyclists.

Another effort of the city is to provide bicycle racks at various locations around town so cyclists may secure their bikes. Racks have been designed and produced by a local company, and about 75 will be installed on city-owned properties around town this spring. Local businesses will also be invited to purchase bike racks through the Chamber of Commerce.

All of these developments are part of a plan by the City of Conway to become a bicycle-friendly community as recognized by the League of American Bicyclists. 

In 2008, the "City of Colleges" began developing a plan to become bicycle-friendly when the city council resolved to dedicate the natural gas severance tax to alternative transportation facilities and services. At that same time, the council adopted the League of American Bicyclists’ Action Plan for Bicycle-Friendly Communities. 

Soon a task force of bicycle enthusiasts was assembled to create a bicycle master plan for the city. The task force began work on a bicycle facilities standards and a bicycle network plan, and committees were formed to assess bicycling education, encouragement, enforcement and evaluation.

In 2009, the city council approved the establishment of a Bicycle Advisory Board to assist and advise city officials on plans to become a bicycle-friendly community. The board meets monthly with the mayor, city engineer and other city officials to ensure progress continues and provide input on plans.

In addition to engineering ways for bicyclists to be safer on the roads, bicycle education and advocacy has also been implemented through a local organization called Conway Advocates for Bicycling.  CAB offers bi-monthly socials where families and individuals interested in cycling can meet and learn about various aspects of the cycling in Conway. 

Another advocacy group that is concerned about cycling and has developed as a result of the plan to become a bicycle-friendly community, is Safe Routes to School. This group is dedicated to encouraging more children to walk or ride their bicycles to school. 

An educational flier was also distributed to Conway residents in their Conway Corporation bills during the month of February to reinforce the rules of the road for cyclists. 

Much work is still to be done, but the city is making great strides in promoting a community environment that is bicycle-friendly and encouraging all to safely share the road. 

(Jennifer Boyett is an avid cyclist who serves on the Bicycle Advisory Board and is a member of Conway Advocates for Bicycling. For more information about how you can become involved with cycling in Conway, visit www.cycleconway.org.)