Bike Lanes and Walkways Not Included in MPO Long Range Plan

September 28, 2005--Posted at 7:00 pm CDT
JONESBORO-- Jonesboro's Metropolitan Planning Organization is in the final stages of developing a long-range transportation plan.
The MPO met yesterday to consider bike and walking lanes as a part of that plan.
It looks like it is a part that will be left out ...
Jonesboro's MPO approved the highly anticipated, long range transportation plan.
But one emphasis in the plan is not quite up to speed for cyclists who want to see bike lanes and walkways added throughout the city.
MPO Director Muhammad Amin Ulkarim says, "Technically, we cannot say that they were left out. Basically you could say that we did not put in any."
For longtime cyclist Jim Stearns, who has been lobbying for bike lanes and walkways for over 15 years, the opposition is hard to swallow.
"Sometimes you get very frustrated that your voice is not being taken into consideration. This is a pursuit of quality of life ... Not just recreation or a means of transportation," Cyclist Jim Stearns says.
But one policy committee member argues the decision was not about opposition.
"I don't know of a single soul on the policy committee that is opposed to bike routes or walkways in the City of Jonesboro," MPO Policy Committee Chairman John Street says.
Street says there are plans for so called "recreational bike lanes" that are included in the long range plan. It is bike lanes for "transportational" use that have been denied.
But not by the committee ...
"Implementation of the plan is not our responsibility. It's the responsibility of local government or the state highway department," Ulkarim says.
"The state informed us that we have to have a master street plan with these proposed bikeways and walkways superimposed on it. We don't have a master street plan," Street says.
They say this is not the end of the line for cyclist, they are in the process of creating a committee to map out bike routes, but until they has been done, they will not include them in the long range plan ... In fear the state will not approve the project.

"This plan is not cast in concrete. It is a flexible plan," Ulkarim says.

But for Stearns, the city's hesitation to implement a bike lane plan is unacceptable.

"It's something we should've been planning for 15 years ago. I don't want to wait another 15 years. They don't believe that cycling is a alternate means for transportation. They don't believe that it is a safe pursuit of recreation and it is," Stearns says.