City Director Erma Hendrix is not happy about the plan to restripe South Main Street to provide a protected bicycle lane and three lanes for motor vehicle traffic.
She objects, too, to an earlier project to put a bike lane on West 12th Street between Jonesboro Drive and Battery, a portion of which is also in her Ward One.
The plans were done quietly without consulting her and should have been brought before the City Board, she said.
“I resent it. I’m tired of it.”
Hendrix, who is black, sees the bike lanes through a racial lens. She thinks the pressure to accommodate bicycles comes from white residents and that the largely black residents of her ward don’t support the traffic changes. She said South Main is a busy street with a bus route and the bike lane will be a hazard and slow traffic, as it has done on Twelfth Street.
Hendrix contends that an expenditure of public money on bicycle traffic should have been brought before the City Board. She’s filed a Freedom of Information request for financial information about the bike lanes, something she said she was never favored with. She said she also planned to contact the federal Justice Department.
The Main Street project includes some new asphalt surfacing and bike lanes on both sides of Main between I-630 and Roosevelt Road. A public meeting was held on the plan last week, but Hendrix said that wasn’t sufficient. “It wouldn’t have gotten this far if I had been included,” she said. The project is an outgrowth of redevelopment of the South Main business district with restaurants and other businesses.
Her FOI request, as written in e-mail to city officials:
TOTAL AMOUNT OF CITY FUNDING $$$ CONTRIBUTED, TO THE BIKE TRAIL, ON WEST 12th, FROM BATTERY TO JONES STREETS.
TOTAL AMOUNT OF ANTICIPATED CITY FUNDING $$$, TO BE SPENT FOR PROPOSED AMOUNT, TO BE SPENT FOR THE MAIN STREET BIKE TRAIL.
REMEMBER THE TURN AROUND TIME OF THIS REQUEST.
IF EITHER OF YOU HAVE A QUESTION YOU MUST EMAIL THE CONCERN. NO TELEPHONE.
Hendrix is irked at Mayor Mark Stodola, particularly, for his leadership on the project and dismissal of her objections. I’d earlier heard criticism of the project from Kenyon Lowe, a black member of the Little Rock Housing Authority board, who also contended black neighbors generally objected to the idea.
UPDATE: Quite a stir produced in the neighborhood. Hendrix sent along a letter she’d received about the comments reported here. She responded that the blog item was hearsay and asked me if I had a tape recording of her mentioning race in her comments to me. I don’t. But I know she mentioned race several times, both of those who oppose the bike lanes and those who support them. But, as the original item also noted, Hendrix was less concerned with race than with being left out of the process and, she believes, disrespected by the mayor. She remains convinced that Main and W. 12th are bad streets for bike lanes. She said Chester Street would be far preferable as a north-south bike route.