Tagged: bike facilities

Bicycle Facilities Meeting: 23 March 2011

After skipping the second in the series of meetings about plans for biking and pedestrian facilities in Memphis – the one that actually focussed on bike lanes, no less – I attended the third and final meeting this week.  Like the first two it was hosted by the Church Health Center and took place on Wednesday, 23 March.

The meeting was sparsely attended compared to the first one; mostly it was the “true believers” (people who already bike around town) and several representatives from the Memphis MPO, including the inimitable Kyle Wagenschutz, the city’s bike/pedestrian coordinator.  There was no presentation, just a large number of colorful and informative maps showing the proposed and scheduled bike facilities around the area.

I was heartened to see many such facilities in Midtown, where I live, as well as in north and south Memphis, areas long held in the grips of poverty and underemployment.  While I most certainly want every major road in Midtown to be blanketed in bike lanes (especially Madison Avenue!), I don’t want these plans to be a Midtown-only effort.  Considering the extent to which poverty correlates with negative health outcomes, the low-income neighborhoods in Memphis should very much be the beneficiaries of any and all facilities which encourage exercise.

What remains to be seen is what will actually happen.  From looking at the maps, at least some of the proposed facilities appear to be somewhat “pie in the sky” in ambition.  Don’t get me wrong: I would love to see some sort of trail system running along Nonconnah Creek south of Memphis and connecting with the Germantown bike facilities, the Wolf River trail system, and indirectly to the Shelby Farms Greenline, but where the funding (and political muscle) comes from is unknown at this time.  Whatever the case, I am overjoyed to see so many proposed biking and walking facilities in and around Memphis.  It’s really heartening to see how quickly this city has turned around.  I can only imagine what it has been like for the dozens of people who’ve been advocating for better facilities (hell, any facilities) for walkers and bikers in Memphis for years.

One piece of good news to share: after originally coming out against the proposed bike lanes on Madison Avenue, Molly’s La Casita has switched teams and is now supporting bike lanes!  Yay Molly’s!!  Now if only Huey’s and Mercury Valet Cleaners would end their senseless opposition.

The Meeting the Week Before Last About Bike Lanes on Madison Avenue

I’ve been a bit delinquent in posting my thoughts on the meeting two weeks ago about proposed bike lanes (or other bike facilities) on Madison Avenue and other roads around town.  I have been extraordinarily busy lately and haven’t had much time for long-form posts.  Plus, some of the opinions expressed in the meeting were quite shocking in their tenor such that I really wanted some time to process the events and write something thoughtful about it.

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A Smattering of Bits of Interest

  • Local biking guru Anthony Siracusa has a great article in today’s Commercial Appeal about the status of community cycling efforts in Memphis.
  • Several articles have appeared lately about the walking and biking lanes that are to be installed on the Harahan Bridge (which I’ve just discovered has its own Facebook page – who knew?) in the near future.  I am so excited about being able to bike to Arkansas – and eventually to New Orleans – I can hardly stand it.
  • There’s a meeting Wednesday, 2 March at 5:30 PM at the Church Health Center on Union Avenue about the plans for pedestrian and biking infrastructure in the area.  Kyle Wagenschutz and other folks from the Memphis MPO will be soliciting input from the public about what sort of facilities we want.  I’ll be there and I hope you will be too.
  • I’m way behind in posting about the controversy surrounding the installation of bike lanes on Madison Avenue through Midtown, but here’s a great letter to the editors of the CA on just that topic.
  • Here’s a great article from the U.S. Department of Transportation on the benefits of bicycle infrastructure.  I haven’t had a chance to fully read it, but I like what I see so far.

Biking to the store(s) and elsewhere

Today was an absolutely amazing day to ride.  Temperatures in the mid-70s, clear skies, a nice stiff breeze (the occasional brutal headwind aside), and a long list of errands to run.

I’ve long believed that the best biking is the kind that takes you out of your car and puts you on a bike. Obviously, not all trips are equally easy to be done on a bike.  Visits to the bulk-buyers mecca known as Sam’s Wholesale Club are just going to be more difficult on a bike, unless you have a cargo trailer, which even the most dedicated cyclist often doesn’t own.  But many trips are completely feasible on a bike, including a sizable weekly trip to the grocery store, which I accomplished today.  Given that something like 75% of trips under two miles in length are made in a car, I think we all have a little room for improvement.  And that was my goal today.

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Memphis MPO Meeting

An email reminder from Kyle Wagenschutz …

Hello everyone,

Just a quick reminder about next week’s meeting during Phase 2 of the update process for the Regional Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan.  We had over 70 people attend last month’s meeting, many of whom were new faces, and we got some great feedback and ideas for expanding our region’s greenway and trail network.

We are now gearing up for our second meeting that will focus on pedestrian and bicycle issues.  During this process, we will be getting public input on the most important part of the plan – describing what we, as a region, want to accomplish in terms of bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure and support programs.

The Memphis MPO will be holding two additional public meetings over the few weeks to help us gain your perspective on how the plan should be updated.  Each of the meetings will be held at the Church Health Center Wellness Center at 1115 Union Avenue, Memphis, TN 38104 in Conference Rooms A and B.  A link to a map and a schedule of the times and topics is listed below:

(http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&ie=UTF8&q=church+health+center+wellness&fb=1&gl=us&hq=church+health+center+wellness&hnear=Memphis,+TN&cid=0,0,7484869207653639589&sqi=2&ll=35.136493,-90.02561&spn=0.003268,0.007612&t=h&z=18)

February 9, 2011 – Pedestrian and Bicycle Facilities – 5:30pm-7:30pm

March 2, 2011 – Review and Revise Phase 2 Findings – 5:30-7:30pm

Please make sure to mark these dates on your calendars and plan to attend. We need to hear from you about how we can advance our efforts in formulating a regional bicycle and pedestrian network.

Feel free to pass this information on to anyone that may be interested in attending.

Kyle Wagenschutz
Memphis MPO
Bikeway/Pedestrian Coordinator
kyle.wagenschutz (at) shelbycountytn.gov

I’m planning to go but may have to skip.  My students have their first round of exams this week and I’ll be buried in blue books and spreadsheets for the next few days.  The first meeting was pretty quick, so hopefully I can squeeze in time for this one.

Memphis MPO Meeting

On Wednesday of this week I drove [sigh] over to the Church Health Center for a community meeting sponsored by the Memphis MPO (Metropolitan Planning Organization).  The meeting was about implementing Phase II of the redesign of walking and biking facilities in and around Memphis.  (Phase I involved a survey about what people in the community want in the way of facilities.)  It’s the first of three meetings; the next two are planned for 9 February and 2 March, both Wednesdays.

This week’s meeting focused on multi-use trails, like the Shelby Farms Greenline.  We have a small handful of these paths in Memphis and apparently more are to be planned, which was the main point of the meeting.  After a brief introduction by Kyle Wagenschutz, we divided up into groups and clustered around huge maps taped to the walls of the room.

The maps were of Memphis and Shelby County and had existing walking and biking facilities labeled.  Our task was to use stickers to indicate our points of origin, destination, and where we thought new facilities should go.  It was pretty interesting.  Here’s a picture of our map.

That’s Kyle’s arm on the right.  I know it’s not a huge image, but look at the clusters of blue and orange dots in the center.  The blue dots represent points of origin (i.e. where people live) and the orange ones are destinations.  Most of the dots are clustered around Midtown, downtown, and east Memphis.  You can see smaller dots surrounding the area; those represent where people would like to see walking/biking facilities, like bathrooms, water fountains, and bike racks.

The planners at the MPO will take our map and combine it with the maps from the other groups and use that to identify where people want trails and facilities.  A pretty neat idea, I think.  I don’t know what sort of barriers the MPO will face in putting our wants into action, but let’s hope they are few.

Mind the Gap

I haven’t watched it yet, but there’s a new documentary on Vimeo.  It’s called “Mind the Gap” and it’s about sustainable urban transportation.  One of the topics the webisodes covers is biking.  As soon as I get a free few hours I’m going to give it a watch.

Anyway, here’s the link.  Note: I had to open a Vimeo account to subscribe to the webisodes, but I think you can watch it without subscribing.  Enjoy.

Email from Kyle Wagenschutz

I received this email from Kyle Wagenschutz, the new Bikeway/Pedestrian Coordinator with the City of Memphis, last week and wanted to pass it along.  It’s really important for all Memphians, not just cyclists, to support initiatives to make our city more sustainable and active.  Cars aren’t the only means of getting around, and we seem to have forgotten that. Anyway, here’s the email.  I’m planning to go to all three meetings.  Hope to see you there.

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More Bike Lanes!

Hi everyone.  If you have a moment today, please have a look at this email the good people at Livable Memphis just circulated.  It’s about proposed bike lanes on Madison, from Cooper St. to Cleveland Ave.  If the lanes are created as the email describes, they will be a crucial biking link from the heart of Midtown to the Medical District.  Madison Avenue is not the least bike friendly street in Memphis, but when these new bike lanes, it will be one of the most.

Please take a moment, read the email, and take action.