I finally decided to go visit Nicole at work last Thursday. She works at the Amy Sanders Library in Sherwood. It’s just a block off of Khiel about halfway between JFK and 67/167. Nicole knew she had seen a CAT bus pass by before so I looked it up on the route map and saw the Jacksonville Express line did travel down Khiel, past the library on its way to Jacksonville. There are a couple of different express lines that carry people into the suburbs from town. The trouble is they only make stops going one direction in the morning and the other direction in the evenings. So I biked to the bus station after work and loaded my bike on the bike rack. There was also another rider who loaded his bike on too. I learned recently that if you take a bike with you and the bike rack is full on the bus, you’re not allowed to bring the bike with you inside the bus. You just have to wait for the next one. But I have rarely seen a full bike rack on any of the busses that I have passed by. Hopefully, one day this will be a problem, but it’s a rare chance that it will happen now. We left the station 5 minutes late, but made the lost time back up by the time we got to the first scheduled stop. It was pretty full for the bus. There were about 9 people. We traveled across the Main Street Bridge and down Main Street in North Little Rock, down JFK and turned on Khiel Avenue. Right before we turned down Khiel and while we were stopped at a stoplight, a man came running down the sidewalk to board the bus. But the driver did not see him and drove on. It was kind of frustrating to watch because some people in the back were trying to tell her that he was there, but the driver wasn’t paying attention and drove on. The bad thing was this was the last bus on that route for the night. So what does someone do if they miss the last bus? Do they call a friend or a cab?
But we continued on and I pulled the cord to stop on Khiel at the intersection that led to the library. I don’t know what Sherwood has against sidewalks, but there aren’t many anywhere. I got off the bus on a steep hillside and unloaded my bike from the front. It was at a stoplight that actually had a pedestrian signal, just no sidewalk. So I hit the button and waited for the light to change to cross the street.
It took me a little while to find the library, it was a little further down the street than I thought and it was a very dark building from the outside. But I made it to the front door, chained my bike up and walked in. The Library was having a Halloween party that night for all the little kids. They had games set up and everyone was dressed in a costume. Including my wife, who was dressed as Max from Where The Wild Things Are. My brother had also come down for the evening to play his fiddle during the party. There was a rough head count of about 150 kids and the evening finally began to wind down around 8. I helped Nicole and the rest of the Library staff lock up and loaded my bike into Nicole’s car and rode back home with her that night.
Another interesting thing I discovered at the Learning Fair this weekend was if Nicole decides she wants to take the bus to work one day, She would have to get on the Jacksonville Express in the morning and ride all the way to Jacksonville and then ride the bus back to Sherwood because the Jacksonville express does not stop in the mornings travelling North. Since not many people ride out of downtown into the suburbs in the morning, CAT doesn’t offer stops going north because it assumes the bus would be empty on its way to Jacksonville. I’m not even really sure if they would allow passengers to ride that direction in the morning. But if they did, it would seem that they would stop to let someone off the bus, Even if they don’t stop to pick anyone up.
The next night, while I was out walking Beckett, I took a handful of flyers for the upcoming Learning Fair and taped them around town on street corners and parking garages. We ended up having a pretty good turnout for the Fair, but next year, we really need to focus on getting more regular commuters that have never ridden the bus or a bike to work. I was thinking we should total up the parking costs at different parking garages and lots and compare it to a 10 ride pass for cat and post at those places what the price difference would be. Maybe next year.