JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Arkansas State University joins a number of colleges around the country as a 'Bicycle Friendly University.' ASU is the first college or university in Arkansas to receive such distinction by the League of American Bicyclists. As ASU takes steps to accommodate the demand for bike paths, the city of Jonesboro is, as well.
Wixson Huffstetler, Parks and Recreation Director, says the city has a master plan they hope to incorporate in the future, including 26.2 miles of safe biking and walking trails. The current project is constructing the 5.5 mile trail on Matthews and Caraway which will run behind the mall.
Huffstetler said, "It just made sense. We wanted to connect people from downtown. To be able to get to the mall to ASU to downtown, and then over to the Allen Park side of town."
The new trails are all a part of a plan to bring growth to Jonesboro. Huffstetler explained, "When industries are looking to come here that is the first question they ask the mayor. What kind of quality of life do you have here? What is there to do? Is there a safe place for kids to ride bikes and run and walk? And that's our goal."
Bill Smith, director of marketing and communications at ASU, agreed trails will help attract more people to the area and provide more recreational opportunities for families. "It's not just to accommodate cyclists like myself. It's to bring in the next generation of doctors and lawyers and urban professionals," Smith said.
The new trail on Matthews is an addition to the Matthews Medical Mile, and it is just the beginning for what Huffstetler hopes to achieve in the future. "We do want to connect to ASU. I know we are trying to work with the railroad companies and have a walk over pedestrian bridge over these railroad tracks right here."
The trail on Matthews and Caraway should be complete in mid-December.