The city named as one of the worst for biking in the U.S. by Bicycling Magazine only five years ago is now aiming to be the best in Tennessee. Memphis Mayor AC Wharton announced groundbreaking plans today to implement a network of protected bike facilities as a part of their commitment to the Green Lane Project.
The Mayor publicly announced Memphis' first-ever Complete Streets Policy, a timeframe for new bike facility installations in summer 2013, and a commitment to build 15 miles of protected bike lanes (also called green lanes) over the next two years. Green lanes are dedicated spaces for people on bikes in the roadway; many are physically separated from car and sidewalk traffic by curbs, planters, parked cars or posts.
The bicycle-friendly mayor, who is credited with reversing Memphis? reputation from worst city for bicycling to most improved, reaffirmed his reputation today, stating We're working hard to make sure we’re not just building quantity, but that we’re building quality bike lanes. We want all our citizens, young and old, to be able to make the choice to bicycle and feel safe and comfortable when doing so. Green lanes are how we’re going to take the next step to make Memphis the most bike-friendly city in Tennessee.
To put Memphis' plan for 15 miles of future green lanes into perspective, Memphis currently has zero green lanes, and between 1874 and 2011, only 62 such protected bike facilities were built nationwide. Memphis is playing an influential role in the exponential growth of protected bike lines nationwide; by the end of 2013, more than 200 green lanes will be on the ground. The Green Lane Project is supporting this growth.
In addition to collecting data and research, sharing best practices, and hosting leadership summits and study tours, the Green Lane Project has distributed over $250,000 in grant money between six U.S. cities (Austin, TX, Chicago, IL, Memphis, TN, Portland, OR, San Francisco, CA, and Washington, DC) to assist in getting green lanes on the ground since the Project kicked off in May 2012. The Project has granted $45,000 over the past year to Memphis alone.
Memphis is a Green Lane Project star and a great example for cities nationwide. With a clear vision and committed leadership, any community can make bicycling a safe, convenient, and accessible way of getting around,? said Green Lane Project Director, Martha Roskowski. For the people of Memphis, green lanes will lead to health, safety, congestion and economic improvements over the next two years, and beyond.