LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A Little Rock-based nonprofit released guidance cities in central Arkansas can implement to reduce vehicle accidents involving pedestrians and bikers. 

Metroplan, which develops long-range infrastructural ideas for local governments, touched on this topic in its February “Best Practices” newsletter. The publication features ideas for cities to implement, including additional crossing routes, median installments and safer road environments.

In the latest data provided to Metroplan, more than 30 pedestrians were killed in 2020. Jonathan Lupton, who wrote the newsletter for the nonprofit, said many of these deaths were preventable.

“Pedestrians are very vulnerable,” Lupton said. “In so many cases, it just doesn’t need to happen.”

Lupton said simple solutions like those mentioned above and other lines out in the newsletter can save lives and also benefit local economies. It’s up to the bureaucratic processes to ultimately approve the guidance.

“They’re easy fixes,” Lupton said. “In most cases, they’re really not that expensive. It’s just a matter of paying attention to them.”

Mary Jo Heye-Townsell, a Sherwood city councilwoman, said she has been paying attention. She said people in the city have a tough time finding walkable sidewalks and safe biking trails.

Often, city governments pause approving infrastructural changes and point to the need for further research as the reason. Heye-Townsell said Metroplan’s newsletter eliminates that need.

“For a city like Sherwood that needs these things so desperately, now we’ve got the guidelines,” Heye-Townsell said.

Last year, Sherwood approved sidewalk funding, but Heye-Townsell said that money has not been spent.

“City council budgeted $196,000 for sidewalks,” Heye-Townsell said. “We spent $1,000.”

Kim Mundell is a Sherwood biker who said she must go to Little Rock to ride, though she noted every Central Arkansas city currently lacks the infrastructure necessary to provide efficient biking. In 2019, Kim Mundell’s husband, John Mundell, was killed in a hit-and-run accident while riding his bike.

“He always put safety first, always wore his helmet, had his lights on,” Kim Mundell said.

Though Kim Mundell keeps her husband’s legacy alive by taking up his passion, Kim Mundell said the lack of bike-friendly infrastructure makes it difficult.

“I don’t feel comfortable like he did because he was an excellent rider to go out on the highways by myself,” Kim Mundell said.

Kim Mundell said implementing Metroplan’s guidance could save lives and keep families together. “No one should have to go what I went through with a knock on the door,” Kim Mundell said.