Maumelle bets big on electric bikes for eclipse emergency planning

by Stephanie Smittle – Arkansas Times

An estimated 300,000 visitors are expected in Maumelle for the April 8 solar eclipse and accompanying “Blackout on the Boulevard” festival, a four-day event at Lake Willastein with carnival rides, hot air balloon rides, a fishing derby, a kiddie zone, food trucks, a beer garden and a lineup of live music and performers. To help manage the crowds streaming into Maumelle, city officials have invested $105,000 “for three electric bikes, three AEDs and an ATV that can transport a patient if traffic congestion makes it impossible to transport a person in need of medical help via regular means,” Maumelle’s Fire Department chief Beau Buford said.

The electric bikes will allow first responders to access areas where vehicles and ambulances can’t travel, the department said, and will be used to patrol and transport patients from Lake Willastein and other congested areas. “One of the bikes has a stretcher and another has an equipment storage trailer,” Buford said. “They can access all trails, remote woodland areas and traffic congestion incidents.”

In addition, Maumelle’s police department spent $69,000 for a UTV, four electric bicycles, traffic barricades and cones, bicycle helmets and transport racks.

Maumelle’s been in eclipse planning mode since June of 2023. “This will be a first-time experience for all of us,” Maumelle police chief Cory Pickard said. “The additions of equipment purchased for the eclipse are necessary, and afterward they will be helpful in increasing our officers’ presence in the community and assisting with other large-scale events.”