I attended the meeting tonight at Rhodes College about the proposed bike lanes on North Parkway and all I have to say is, what a contrast there was between this meeting and the bike lane meeting at Snowden School in February. The crowd tonight was almost uniformly positive about the proposal. Â Several people spoke up about the importance of bike lanes in Memphis, in terms of making our city more accessible to non-automobile commuters, healthier, and more appealing to young, college-educated residents. Â Numerous comments and questions were greeted with vigorous rounds of applause.
Here’s a picture of the attendees at the event, easily the largest crowd I’ve seen attending a bike lane meeting, courtesy Scott Newstok (photo credit!).
I have to give props to Kyle Wagenschutz (seen at the podium in this picture), the city’s bike pedestrian coordinator, for his continued support of more bike facilities in Memphis and his leadership at the meeting tonight. Â Granted, tonight’s crowd was considerably more friendly than the meeting in February, but still, Kyle did a great job.
Also, City Councilman Reid Hedgepeth was in attendance and deserves credit himself. Â Apparently his house abuts the Greenline and in the days before the Greenline was completed, he was very concerned about what the path would mean to his family and property. Â He openly admitted that he was wrong in his initial concerns and that his family uses the Greenline frequently. Â I always respect someone, particularly a politician, who can admit being wrong in a public forum.
But the award for the most entertaining (and informative) appearance tonight goes to Mr. Charles McVean. Â Mr. McVean is a Memphis businessman known for starting a very successful commodity trading business. Â He’s also the principal in a firm that manufactures plug-in electric bikes. Â Mr. McVean spoke for several minutes on the Harahan Bridge project and absolutely had everyone in stitches. Â He is very confident that the bridge will soon have bike lanes added to it, meaning that one could easily bike from Shelby Farms to Arkansas on dedicated bike facilities. Â This makes me so happy I don’t even know what to say.
I really hope that the energy and excitement at the meeting tonight carry forward and help to propel Memphis into being the bike-friendly town that it should be. Â It is rare to hear an economist say this, but I am optimistic.