With a lack of bike trails and even sidewalks in some areas, Memphis isn't exactly the most cyclist- or pedestrian-friendly city. But representatives from the Memphis Planning Organization (MPO), along with a group of concerned cyclists and various other city representatives, are working to change that with the formation of a regional bike and pedestrian plan.
As part of the MPO's Long-Range Transportation Plan, they'll be working to install a network of bike lanes, multi-use trails, road-sharing routes, and new sidewalks for Shelby County and portions of DeSoto and Fayette counties. The plan, which MPO estimates will take about 20 years to implement, will be drafted by the end of the year, at a cost of $330,000 in federal funds.
"In the past, bicycling and pedestrian issues haven't been at the top of our priority list," said Katherine Turner, MPO's senior planner. "So now the MPO is seeking to give residents more transportations options. Increasing bike and pedestrian facilities will also help with air pollution problems and promote good health."
The MPO has set up a committee to assist with the planning. It includes representatives from the Memphis and Shelby County Health Department, the Wolf River Conservancy, MATA, the Revolutions Bicycle Co-op, and members of various neighborhood associations.
RPM Transportation Consultants, a planning group that has assisted both Chattanooga and Nashville with the implementation of bike and pedestrian plans, will prepare a peer city review to gather ideas for the Memphis plan. They're also hosting a series of public meetings through the rest of the year.
The first meetings are scheduled for Tuesday, July 27th, at the First Congregational Church in Midtown and at the Bartlett Performing Arts Centre. More meetings will take place on Wednesday, July 28th, at MATA's Central Station downtown and at Horn Lake city hall.
"In 10 years, this city is going to be a cycling mecca," said Anthony Siracusa, a member of the planning committee from the Revolutions Bike Co-op. "There's room here for things to grow and with this plan, a lot is going to change. Once the conditions and facilities improve, more people will be out riding in the streets, and it'll be safer."