We Brake for Bikes? 

Cyclists unhappy with planned paths to Shelby Farms.

Cyclists who ride in and around Shelby Farms may be in line for a longer workout, courtesy of the city of Memphis and the Tennessee Department of Transportation.

Under a proposed plan for a bike and pedestrian path, cyclists traveling east on Walnut Grove will have to detour south to Shady Grove, adding 1.7 miles onto the ride to Shelby Farms.

The proposed paths, which were not included in the original Walnut Grove construction project, were presented at a public meeting November 8th inside Shelby Farms.

The Walnut Grove construction project design was presented in early 2004, several months before the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) completed a study on how to incorporate bike access across the city over the next 20 years. Designers then went back and added bike access to the completed Walnut Grove plan.

"Any kind of good bike or pedestrian access was an afterthought," said Laura Adams, president of the Shelby Farms Park Alliance. "We're not going to be successful at building a world-class park unless we develop a way for people to get there without automobiles."

According to the proposed plan, cyclists will ride south on Brierview to Shady Grove and then travel north on a multi-use path along Humphreys before arriving at a new bike/pedestrian bridge over the Wolf River.

For cyclists not interested in the detour, the city presented another option. Two six-foot sidewalks are planned for Walnut Grove from I-240 to the Wolf River Bridge, but cyclists said that route is not wide enough for two-way bike traffic.

"We wanted a mixed-use trail on the north side [of Walnut Grove] because that would be an extension of the bridge over the Wolf River," said Steve Sondheim of the Bike and Pedestrian Advisory Committee. "What if they could just make it an eight-foot sidewalk on either side of Walnut Grove and not call it a mixed-use trail? That would allow bike and pedestrian traffic on each side."

City engineer Wain Gaskins said widening the sidewalks with the intent of using them as multi-use paths but not calling them such would be illegal unless barriers were added to separate the sidewalk from the traffic on Walnut Grove.

"In the city, a bike can ride along the sidewalk, but that does not mean that we're designating the sidewalks as bike routes," said Gaskins. "If you designate something, you can't have any drop-offs associated with it. If a bicycle swerved suddenly to avoid a pedestrian, they could hit the drop-off and flip out into traffic."

Gaskins said adding crash-proof barriers wouldn't be feasible because they would create sight problems for vehicular traffic pulling onto Walnut Grove. Other concerns about the proposed routes included safety issues along Shady Grove and placement of light posts on sidewalks that would block a bike's ability to pass.

"All in all, I don't think Memphis has made a commitment to bicycling yet," said Anthony Siracusa, who manages Revolutions Bicycle Co-op. "We've got to get Wain Gaskins and the MPO thinking in new ways. I don't think cycling is on their radar as a way to improve the economic situation in our city and the quality of life here."

Keep the Flyer Free!

Always independent, always free (never a paywall),
the Memphis Flyer is your source for the best in local news and information.

Now we want to expand and enhance our work.
That's why we're asking you to join us as a Frequent Flyer member.

You'll get membership perks (find out more about those here) and help us continue to deliver the independent journalism you've come to expect.


Speaking of Cycling, Shelby Farms


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

    • Blank Canvas

      Input sought on the future of Rust Hall and Brooks Museum.
    • You Made This

      The future of Overton Park is in your hands (well, your head, technically).


Tiger Blue

Missouri 65, Tigers 33

Beyond the Arc

Grizzlies Maul Hawks 131 - 117

News Blog

City Orders Lime Scooters Off the Streets

We Saw You

Science of Wine and more!

News Blog

Election Administrator Addresses Ballot Issues

Film/TV/Etc. Blog

Shocktober V Gets Scary At The Time Warp Drive-In

Fly On The Wall Blog

Great Works of Literature as Written by the Shelby Co. Election Commission

News Blog

'Misleading' Ballot Questions Draw Ire from Voters


More by Bianca Phillips

Readers also liked…

© 1996-2018

Contemporary Media
460 Tennessee Street, 2nd Floor | Memphis, TN 38103
Visit our other sites: Memphis Magazine | Memphis Parent | Inside Memphis Business
Powered by Foundation