The main discussion of the meeting was about the final section of the River Trail bike trail that remains to be completed. If you have ridden the loop, you probably know they were referring to the section between Cajun’s Wharf and the Broadway Bridge. Here the trail rides alongside a sidewalk on Cantrell Road, crosses the railroad tracks on a narrow path flanking busy traffic on a blind curve and cuts over to Markham where riders pass the Salvation Army before turning back onto the bike trail 6 blocks away. The city of Little Rock is currently going after funding that will help to build a trail that cuts into the steep hillside that banks the river behind Dillard’s headquarters and terminates safely behind Cajun’s Wharf, where it will join back up with the bike lanes on Riverfront Rd. And if the trail turns out to be anything like what the city is purposing, it will be one of the most breathtaking sections of the loop. We also discussed developing Two Rivers Park with playgrounds and other amenities now that so many people travel there via the new bridge, designing a Little Rock biking logo for shirts and jerseys, and also the Mayor’s Challenge. The Mayor’s Challenge is a program dedicated to getting people out of their cars and off of the streets. The Mayor will even take the challenge himself, but the goal is to go a whole week without driving a car. Participates will be encouraged to walk, bike, bus or carpool everywhere they need to go for an entire week. Sounds like a piece of cake compared to a whole month! I will post some more info about this as it develops.
After the meeting adjourned and I headed back to work and started to think about my tasks later that afternoon. So near the end of the day, I looked up the bus route that goes up to Kavanaugh and Markham and saw it passed somewhere down 2nd st, near my office. The map was pretty basic. It marks the route fairly well all though it is up to the rider to figure out exactly where the stops are. So after work, I biked down to 2nd street and looked for the CAT Bus sign. Luckily it was just between Izard and Chester, almost directly across the block from the office. The time table said the bus left from the Travel Center at 5:45 and stopped at the Markham and Kavanaugh intersection at 5:56. I was trying to make it to Spokes before they closed at 6:00.
The bus came over the hill at 5:56. I was surprised to see there was already a bike mounted in the rack on the front of the bus. When it stopped a man got out and removed his bike and I loaded up mine in its place. The busses all have bike racks that can fold down and hold two bikes on the front. So after I loaded my bike up, banged my head on the side view mirror, and validated my bus pass, we were off. The bus ride up to Spokes took about 5 minutes and we only had to make one other stop to let one of the three other people on the buss, off. I got to the door of Spokes right at 6:02, thinking I was too late. Sure enough the door was locked and I saw a couple of the employees exiting out the side entrance.
So with my new bike rack and new rear light, I headed up the Kavanaugh, towards Kroger’s (I know it’s actually called Kroger, without the ‘s, but who in the South says it that way?) To my surprise there was no bike rack in sight. If any grocery store in the city would have a bike rack, this one, nestled in the dense neighborhood fabric of Hillcrest, would. But, as usual, I made due and chained my bike to a stop sign and headed in. Nicole had texted me a shopping list earlier that day. I think she was a little concerned on what I would be able to carry back, but so was I. We needed milk but I grabbed a half gallon instead of the usual gallon to save room in my backpack. I also got a box of cereal, 6 chicken breasts and four pork chops, along with some lettuce, a zucchini, ranch dressing, croutons, muffin mix, shake n bake (because sometimes I have to make dinner) and a half dozen eggs. Which I am proud to say, all fit snug and safely into my backpack. The only problem was when I went through the self checkout and set my backpack in the bagging area and packed my groceries into it instead of the plastic bags, the machine kept giving me warnings after scanning every item. I’m sure the lady in charge of the self checkout section was ready to kill me. After I finished checking out, I walked out of Kroger’s into the night with a heavy backpack full of groceries and proceeded to coast down Kavanaugh to Markham in the dark. Once I hit Markham though, I hopped the curb onto the sidewalk, or what little sidewalk there was, and rode the rest of the way home.