Bike-friendly behavior has never come naturally to Memphis, which has long been among the country’s most perilous places for cyclists. In recent years, though, riders have taken to the streets like never before, spurred by a mayor who has worked to change the way residents think about commuting.
Mayor A. C. Wharton Jr., elected in 2009, assumed office a year after Bicycling magazine named Memphis one of the worst cities in America for cyclists, not the first time the city had received such a biking dishonor. But Mr. Wharton spied an opportunity.
In 2008, Memphis had a mile and a half of bike lanes. There are now about 50 miles of dedicated lanes, and about 160 miles when trails and shared roads are included. The bulk of the nearly $1 million investment came from stimulus money and other federal sources, and Shelby County, which includes Memphis, was recently awarded an additional $4.7 million for bike projects.
In June, federal officials awarded Memphis $15 million to turn part of the steel truss Harahan Bridge, which spans the Mississippi River, into a bike and pedestrian crossing. Scheduled to open in about two years, the $30 million project will link downtown Memphis with West Memphis, Ark.
1. As a Former TN Resident I find that encouraging
Now if only the idiots in places like Atlanta would stop voting against public transportation some progress might be made. I just wish they could remove their cars as representations of their penises and learn public transportation is pretty darned awesome. It's really nice not to have to find a parking space or parallel park. It's one of the greatest benefits I enjoy here in Portland, OR.