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Everything You Need to Know About The Great Streets Pilot Project

Photo: Noah Glenn
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Looking for something new and fun for the summer? The Great Streets Pilot Project might just have the answer with their new bike routes coming to Downtown Memphis.

The city’s Division of Engineering and UrbanArts Commission revealed their new project, Great Streets Pilot Project, that will transform part of downtown with new bike routes from the riverfront to Midtown.

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The idea is for the people of Memphis to see that the streets can be a public space amenity and shift their perception to understand that our streets can be used for more than just traffic. This new bike route will be built to be mostly protected from vehicle traffic to make biking safer and more enjoyable for people. The creation of the new pedestrian area will be along Peabody Place and have areas for interactive public art elements provided by the UrbanArt Commission, eating and drinking, lounging, along with other activities. The UrbanArt Commission has spent the last few months drafting designs to help transform the project.

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“The Great Streets Pilot Project is founded on the idea that, with high-quality and people-oriented design, streets can function safely and efficiently for all users — whether they travel by car, bike, transit, or on foot — and also be aesthetically pleasing spaces that foster community vibrancy.” -Nicholas Oyler, Bikeway and Pedestrian Manager for the City of Memphis

The following additions will be made:

  • Beale: Eastbound, add a bike lane; Westbound, add a shared lane; pedestrian safety improvements at intersections
  • Front: Convert from 5-lane cross section to 4-lane; add protected bike lanes
  • Peabody Place (Front to B.B. King): Narrow existing travel and parking lanes; add 2-way cycle track and pedestrian promenade
  • Peabody Place (B.B. King to Fourth): Convert northernmost lane into a 2-way cycle track; add a turn lane
  • Fourth: Convert easternmost lane into a 2-way cycle track
  • Intersections of MLK/Fourth and Beale/Front: Add Dutch-style protected intersections

The total cost of the project will be under $200,000, which is a low cost for a project that could have a high impact on the city. The project already has sponsors to help with the cost. The Hyde Family Foundations, LRK, DCA, Silly Goose, SyberTech, and IKEA have all committed to help sponsor the Great Streets Pilot Project. IKEA has committed to donating the outdoor furniture for the pedestrian plaza spaces for the project.

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“IKEA is committed to helping create a better everyday life for Memphis, and this naturally includes relaxing in our outdoor spaces. The Great Streets Pilot Project is a terrific opportunity for us to partner with the city, and we look forward to seeing Memphians enjoy the Downtown streets.” -Carol Smith, Loyalty Leader for IKEA Memphis

The project’s launch date is set for June 26th, and if it is successful after one year they will pursue federal grant funding to make the project permanent for the city.

Here are some before and after photos to give you an idea what the project will entail. The green areas are for bike crossing and the pink areas are pedestrian plaza areas:

Learn more about the Great Streets Pilot Project here.

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