Tagged: North Parkway

News and Views

I wanted to share a few news bits related to the proposed bike lanes on North Parkway, the subject of last night’s meeting at Rhodes College (and this blog post).

First, here’s a great article from the Commercial Appeal about the meeting.  As the article mentions, the meeting was packed, with many people standing in the aisles.  I forgot to mention this in my post yesterday, but at one point a representative from St. Jude’s Hospital indicated that her employer supports the bike lanes on North Parkway.  Her comments were greeted with applause.

Second, here’s an editorial from a gentleman who works locally at Merck and who is also a regular bike commuter (with a 24-mile round-trip commute no less).  He and I share the opinion that the city needs to regain the momentum that grew last summer when the first round of bike lanes (on Southern Avenue) were announced.

Third, here’s another editorial, from the editors of the CA, about the need for more bike facilities in Memphis.  As many other writers have noted, bike lanes are an amenity that improves the quality of life in a city and draw in young professionals, the very demographic that Memphis is lamentably known for losing.

Lastly, here’s a link to a .pdf file of the slides Kyle Wagenschutz presented last night.  It contains many well-rendered maps of exactly where the bike lanes would lie and, in particular, the current ideas on how to circumvent the rather difficult Watkins overpass.

On a related note, apparently the city is currently striping bike lanes on McLemore Avenue and South Parkway.  How awesome is this!  Does anyone know of an up-to-date map of the current and in-process bike lanes?  Leave me a comment if you do.

Happy riding, my people.  Things are looking up for Memphis.

P.S.  Almost forgot to mention this: thanks to both the Memphis Blog and Fix Memphis for giving a shout-out to my blog.  I always appreciate the good vibes.

Night and Day

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.  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.  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!).

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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.  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.  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.  He openly admitted that he was wrong in his initial concerns and that his family uses the Greenline frequently.  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.  Mr. McVean is a Memphis businessman known for starting a very successful commodity trading business.  He’s also the principal in a firm that manufactures plug-in electric bikes.  Mr. McVean spoke for several minutes on the Harahan Bridge project and absolutely had everyone in stitches.  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.  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.  It is rare to hear an economist say this, but I am optimistic.

Bike Lanes on North Parkway

Hi everyone.  There was a great article in today’s Commercial Appeal about the possibility of bike lanes being installed on North Parkway.  The lanes would run the distance of the road, also known as State Route 1, from East Parkway to Danny Thomas Boulevard.  (West of Danny Thomas, North Parkway turns into A. W. Willis and drops from six lanes to four, too few to allow for bike lanes, apparently.)  If installed, the bike lanes would reduce the number of lanes in either direction to two from the current three.

The benefits of installing bike lanes on North Parkway are clear.  The road runs through or past several neighborhoods, including Vollintine-Evergreen, Snowden-Claybrook, and Rhodes College.  Moreover, installing bike lanes on this route would provide a vital and direct connection between Midtown and downtown.  While the lanes wouldn’t run all the way to Front Street (as I understand it, although I could be wrong on this), the length of A. W. Willis between Danny Thomas and the river is relatively short and not too difficult to bike. Further, the bike lanes would end at the western edge of the St. Jude campus and would connect easily to the Overton Park/Broad Avenue/Greenline system of bike lanes and paths.  Imagine the suburban employees of St. Jude parking their cars at Shelby Farms, hopping on their bikes and pedaling the twelve or so miles to work.  This could be huge for biking in Memphis.

What’s most impressive about this proposal is the fact that many of the neighborhood associations and businesses along North Parkway are very much in favor of the lanes.  This is in marked contrast to the (still unresolved) controversy about the proposed bike lanes on Madison Avenue, just a mile or so to the south.  I don’t think I’m alone in wanting that situation to be put to bed, and soon.

If you’d like to learn more about the proposed bike lanes on North Parkway, there’s a meeting on Tuesday, 24 May, at 5:30 PM, in the Blount Auditorium in Buckman Hall at Rhodes College.  Here’s a flier with more information.

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