The new June edition of Bicycling magazine opens with a note from editor Stephen Madden about his recent trip to Little Rock to see the new bicycle and pedestrian bridge over the Arkansas River that’s about to open at Murray Lock and Dam.
It’s quite a nice piece, giving the city some good national publicity and underscoring the benefits the bridge will bring. It also gives credit to Pulaski County Judge Buddy Villines, who conceived the project and got it built. (Last week we told you about a petition drive to officially name the bridge for Villines.)
Since it is not available on the magazine’s website, we’re putting the full text after the jump. Here are some choice excerpts:
The 4,200 foot span is a pedestrian- and bicycle-only bridge built on a dam that towers as much as 75 feet above the river. You read right: bikes and pedestrians only. At a total cost of $12.5 million ($8 million of which came from the Feds), Buddy’s Bridge will be the longest and highest car-free bridge in the world. …
When I ask him why a bike bridge should be his legacy, he gives a quick answer. “Bridges connect people and places,” he says. “This one will attract people and be good for economic growth. When you approach the bridge, you have to look both up and forward, and I like that metaphor. Plus, our culture has got to change its ways. We have to be healthier. I think that once the bridge is open, 60-70 percent of the people in the community will use it.”
Think about that the next time a local politician tries to convince you to pay more taxes so he can build a stadium for a billionaire owner of a professional sports franchise who’ll charge ticket prices so high you won’t be able to take your family to a ball game for less than $400; a bridge we can all use to get off our fat butts for $12.5 million, or $400 million for a place we can sit around and watch someone else do something.