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Get Involved: Memphis Rally for Safe Streets & TN Bike Summit

Photo: Bailey Clark
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Join Bike Walk Memphis and TN Bike Summit this week in working to make our communities better places for people who walk and bike.

From May 18th to May 19th advocates, city planners, public officials, transportation professionals, and people from across the Southeast who are all working to make their communities better places for people who bike and walk will convene in Memphis for the 2017 Tennessee Bike Summit.  Bike Walk Memphis, the local host committee, will hold a Rally for Safe Streets immediately before the Summit. Advocates will gather on the plaza outside City Hall to show City of Memphis leadership that Memphians are eager to support them in taking active steps to fulfill their commitment to basic public safety through design of our largest public space — our streets.

Rally for Safe Streets

  • Date: Thursday, May 18th, 4pm-5pm
  • Location: Memphis City Hall, 125 N. Main St., 38103

2017 Tennessee Bike Summit

Why are these events important? Learn more below. All the info comes to us from Bike Walk Memphis, TN Bike Summit, Bike Walk Tennessee, and Nicholas Oyler (Bikeway and Pedestrian Program Manager for the City of Memphis).

Source: People for Bikes

The Problem:

Street design impacts the safety of us all – people who walk, ride a bike, and ride in an automobile. It shapes the interactions that take place on our city streets, either emphasizing value for human life, access to resources, and community connections or reinforcing the opposite and the accompanying fears. After all, streets are our largest network of public space. In less than four months of 2017, fifteen pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes in Memphis. This rate of fatalities suggests 2017 will be a deadlier year for pedestrians than 2016. In 2016, Memphis reported the highest incidence of pedestrian traffic crashes anywhere in the state over the last decade.

To sound further alarm, people of color and youth aged 10 to 19 are overrepresented as pedestrians hit by cars in Memphis. This is preventable. Bike Walk Memphis and TN Bike Summit ask for City commitment to safe street design as a basic public safety issue. Yes, the City adopted the Complete Streets Project Delivery Manual and developed the Pedestrian and School Safety Action Plan. The City sought public comment on bike lanes on Riverside Drive. But Memphians are asking for an active commitment to safety improvements — a City that will respond to public comments sought, follows through on its commitment to complete streets, and funds improvements as identified in the Pedestrian and School Safety Action Plan.

Memphis Pedestrian and School Safety Action Plan

Sample analysis from Memphis Pedestrian and School Safety Action Plan

In 2015, specifically addressing the issue of pedestrian safety and access to school by walking, the City of Memphis completed its Pedestrian and School Safety Action Plan. This long-term planning document assessed the current conditions of the city’s existing sidewalk network, identified necessary projects, and prioritized investments. The plan’s recommendations in their entity constitute over $1 billion worth of needed repairs and enhancements to our pedestrian network. To target only the most critical repairs identified in the plan, though, I would need $20 million a year for the next 25 years. So far, funding has only been secured for some of the plan’s demonstration projects. These will be constructed this year or next.

bike ped memphis

New crosswalks at Vance/BBKing courtesy of Urban Art Commission & ServiceMaster. Photo: Bike Ped Memphis

The reality is that these demonstration projects will make only a small dent in the amount of improvements needed across the city to make our streets safer for everyone who uses them. We suffer from an average of 100 traffic crash fatalities every year – nearly a third of those are pedestrians. Chicago, a city six times our size in population, faces around 130 – 140 traffic crash deaths every year. Washington, DC, a city similar to Memphis in population, copes “only” with around 27 traffic crash fatalities a year. What I strive to impart on people regarding this issue is the role that design plays in the safety of our streets. When this issue is raised, many will instantly think of better enforcement of traffic laws and speed limits as a solution. This certainly helps, but enforcement is ultimately a reactive solution. A progressive one would be to design and build streets that induce people to drive slower, that establish improved visibility of people walking along or crossing a street, and that function in an intuitive manner so that everyone using the street – whether on foot, on a bike, or in an automobile – knows how to properly navigate his or her space and to share the street with each other. Streets are public space, and as such should be equally safe and equally accessible to all members of the public, no matter how they choose to get around.

– Nicholas Oyler, Bikeway and Pedestrian Program Manager, City of Memphis

Photo: Bikes on Broad

The Current Solutions:

Memphis is moving toward cleaner transportation and could not be more excited to involve its community. Now more than ever, the Memphis bike scene is thriving. Bikers have several options in the Memphis area for not only commuting but advocacy and organization as well. One of the largest bicycle organizations in the United States, Memphis Hightailers Bicycle Club, is located here in Memphis, with over 1,400 members and counting. This organization is not only highly regarded but highly decorated as well, recently receiving 2016’s Best Bicycle Club Award from the League of American Cyclist and the Platinum Bicycle Friendly Business Award.

Revolutions entrance

Photo: Bailey Clark

Furthermore, Memphis has recently introduced a new non-profit bicycle experience to the public with the opening of Revolutions Bicycle CoOp on South Cooper Street. Revolutions Bicycle CoOp has a central goal in mind to provide all Memphians, particularly the working poor of Memphis, with bicycles that function well. Here at Revolutions Bicycle CoOp, they not only rehabilitate bicycles, but they also pass on the education to their members to recycle and reuse these bicycles and their components as well. Many of Revolutions Bicycle CoOp’s members build a bicycle because they need a way to work; other members just wanted a new bicycle they could build themselves, piece by piece, with a sense of pride.

Memphis also has plenty of volunteer opportunities for those willing to bike for a cause. Bike Walk Memphis is a program of Bike Walk Tennessee, whose mission is to advocate for better biking and walking in Tennessee. Bike Walk Memphis is always looking for bikers and helpers with the several events they host throughout the year, giving everyone a fair chance to be involved within the community.

To join the conversation attend the 2017 Tennessee Bike Summit this weekend.

For more bike news and updates in Memphis visit the Bike/Ped Memphis website and follow them on Facebook.

Since May is National Bike Month, the City’s Bikeway and Pedestrian Program is hosting the first ever MemphisRides Photo Contest. Learn more and join in the contest here.

Well, ok, not everything, but we try to keep a close pulse on the great things going on in the city, and it is our joy to share those things with you, three times a week (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday). No spam, cross our hearts.