An estimated 200 people gathered March 27 at the Benjamin Hooks Central Library to hear city proposals for new bike lanes on ten streets that are set to be repaved.
A proposal to add bike lanes on Riverside Drive between Beale Street and Jefferson Avenue garnered the most support and opposition. Two car lanes were converted to bike and pedestrian lanes on Riverside Drive in 2014 but later removed in May 2015 amid complaints of traffic congestion and safety concerns.
Nicholas Oyler, Memphis bikeway and pedestrian program manager, said that while he was not working for the city during the Riverside Drive pilot project, he attended meetings as a citizen and describes the process as “a learning experience.”
“Based on concerns, we recognize the pilot project was flawed; but, the great news is those concerns formed the basis of the new proposal. The reason we are proposing (bike lanes on Riverside) again is the context has changed drastically—we didn’t have the Big River Crossing or Bass Pro or this furious undertaking by the Mayor’s Office to improve access to our riverfront.
Over 160,000 have already travelled across the Harahan Bridge by bike or foot from the Memphis side.”
Assuming the feedback is positive, the proposed projects would start this Fall. In addition to Riverside Drive, the city has proposed bike lanes on nine other streets:
• Cooper Street, from Central Avenue to Washington Street
• North Highland Street from Summer Avenue to Walnut Grove Road
• North Perkins Street from Summer Avenue to Walnut Grove Road
• Hickory Hill Road from Mount Moriah Road to Winchester Road
• Knight Arnold Road from Hickory Hill Road to Ridgeway Road
• Riverdale Road from Winchester Road to Shelby Drive
• Getwell Road from Park Avenue to Interstate 240
• Airways Boulevard from Shelby Drive to the Mississippi state line
• Mendenhall Road from Knight Arnold Road to Mount Moriah Road
Although the streets will be repaved, the addition of the bike lanes will be based on citizen feedback. Oyler added that his office received nearly one hundred comment cards regarding the repaving, and his office also plans to release a survey for those who were not able to attend.
“As we moved forward, our goal is to stop to think how to make streets safer for everyone,” Oyler said. “They are public space and should be equally safe and accessible for everyone who uses them, whether they travel by foot, bike, or car.”