As I crossed Barton St, I saw one of the Little Rock Bike route symbols painted on the street. I noticed because in the BFCC meeting on Wednesday, they mentioned this marker and how unsafe of a location it was to cross Markham. We found out that the marker was not actually placed there by anyone by the city or the BFCC, rather there is a rouge biker out there somewhere that has made his or her own Little Rock bike path stencil and is spray painting it at different locations in the city, kind of making his or her own bike paths.
I continued down the sidewalk to the point where the sidewalk ended and only a dirt trail continued the path alongside Markham. The sidewalk began again a little farther down near Woodlawn St, but it was frustrating to have to deal with such a poorly maintained path to ride such a vital route out of downtown. Markham isn’t steep, but it is a steady climb up and cars come whizzing around the double S curve and it just isn’t safe to ride a bicycle on unless you’re able to hit 30 miles an hour or so. I saw two other bikers that night actually biking on the street. They were both braver than I, but both of them were traveling just a little faster than I usually do. So I decided to take my chances on the gravel path.
I biked in to the parking lot, expecting to see a line of bikes parked outside for the BACA meeting, but to my surprise there was a single bike in sight! I chained my bike up to some stairs outside and walked in. I saw 2 bikes inside the door where their owners had brought them in, but it wasn’t nearly as many as I thought there would have been for the 25 to 30 people I saw attending the meeting. The meeting started out with some bike route updates that were pretty interesting to hear. In North Little Rock, they are working on a new trail along an abandoned railway from 33rd St near the Levy exit, all the way out to Camp Robinson. They are also working on an extension of the Emerald Park Trailway, which honestly, I am unfamiliar with, all the way to Fort Roots. The River Road that dead ends near the old quarry and is shared by motorist and bikers, will be closed to all vehicular traffic once a new driveway is finished to the new apartments that are being built a short way down the road now. I’m not sure how they plan on getting access to the skate park at the end of the road though. It was also mentioned that the number of equestrians on the River Trail are increasing. The previous Sunday there was a group of 40 riders that met out at Burns Park for a trail ride through the park and along part of the River Trail. Part of the following discussion about etiquette that night revolved around bikers biking too fast down the Big Dam Bridge and I learned the reason the new Clinton Bridge has the S curved ramps on both sides is to slow bikers down as they speed down them.
Friday, I biked to work and when I got off at noon, I biked over to EJ’s for lunch with my friends Troeger and Lindsey. I left there and went back to the office and grabbed my phone that I forgot and ran some errands around town. I peddled around down 3rd St and took a look at all the new construction going on in the Rivermarket South area. The new Garage Shops were finishing up and two new businesses were going in at Tuff Nutt. These couple blocks always surprise me at how active they are. It really has become a great street all in its own, separate from the Rivermarket area just a few blocks away.
I headed back home for the afternoon and once Nicole got home, she and I took Beckett for a walk and decided to bike down to Vino’s for dinner. We had some Pizza and beer and even saw Craig O’ Neal come in and pick up some pizzas to take back to the TV station next door. Troeger called us and said he and another friend, Jose, were going to check out the ZIN bar downtown. ZIN is a pretty trendy wine bar downtown in the old Tuff Nutt building. I had walked by it a few times and though it wasn’t my kind of hangout, it’s looked really cool on the inside and was worth a visit. So we left Vinos and headed down 7th St. but as we were crossing State St, A van pulled up at the stop sign opposite of us. My eye sight is horrible, especially at night so it took me a minute before I realized it was some church friends, Lola and Richard and their whole family. They told us they had just come from a party at Arkansas Flag and Banner. A friend of our church, Jeremy Daniel, had passed away and after the funeral, they were throwing a party to celebrate his life. They told us we should stop by and say hi so we biked down to 9th St. and over another block to the party. The Arkansas Flag and Banner building is all that is left off Little Rock’s once thriving “Little Harlem” district during the early part of the century. Most of the area was demolished when I-630 was constructed during the “Urban Renewal” craze. But the building has a beautiful old ballroom that hosted shows by Louis Armstrong, B.B. King, Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald and many other legends. I had seen pictures of the ballroom before but never seen it in person. We saw our pastor, Dr. Rev Russ Breshears, who was standing outside, and he took Nicole and I up to the third floor, into the ballroom. It was very dark and my pictures are horrible but it was such an amazing space!
We spent some time wandering the stage and box seats before heading back down. We thanked him and said bye to everyone and biked over to ZIN to meet up with Troeger and Jose. We weren’t out very long but the bar was pretty cool. We left after an hour or so and got back on our bikes to head back home. The Rivermarket had come alive for the night and we walked our biked across Markham to Riverfront Park, rather than risk running into a pedestrian. But from there it was just a short ride down the River Trail home.