I am writing today to report on a meeting Nate Ferguson and I had with City Councilman Jim Strickland and City Engineers John Cameron and Wain Gaskins this past Friday. The topic for the meeting was making Cooper Young into Memphis' first bike friendly neighborhood, but as expected, the vision and scope of the meeting expanded to include planning for bicycles all over Memphis. I had brought with me the "Chicago Bicycle Design Guide," a city planning resource that the city of Chicago had put together to guide road planning for the inclusion of bicycles. It is a very thorough manual, and I thought it to be a wonderful resource for us in Memphis. Turns out, the engineers had already begun work on a Memphis design guide. They are in the final stages of development for the guide, and as soon as I see it I will send it to you all.
Instead of talking specifically about Cooper Young, which they agreed would be a great place to start striping bike lanes in Cooper Young, and which they also agreed to begin looking seriously at in the next couple months, we talked about making standards for the city and implementing these standards on every newly paved old road and every newly constructed road county wide. The engineers thought this was a good idea, and encouraged us to pursue ratification of such a standard in the new Unified Development Code which is in the works right now. I think we might get that through, and there are a number of people working on this code who might be able to help. If we can ask that all newly paved roads be required to have some sort of bike facility (if they are not too busy or too fast--think Poplar or Union) based on the new Memphis bike design guide, we will see an incredible number of bike facilities all over Memphis. Not just bike lanes, but sign shared roadways, marked wide outside shoulders, and other safety provisions.
The engineers said they have considered creating a bicycle advisory committee to the city engineering department, which I offered to help assmeble and be a part of. This would provide very close oversight of road development in the city for cyclists, and would guarantee that cyclists have an active role in the planning of city streets. Councilman Jim Strickland asked that the enigneers stay in contact with us so that we can continue our work together. On the whole, this meeting was an excellent start to an ongoing dialogue between bicyclists and city planners. This was an unprecedented meeting of minds in Memphis, and we hope it is the beginning of a new form of planning in the city.
Finally, this weekend Revolutions will host the last of six classes on bicycling. The class is called "Advocating for Safer Streets," and will provide a summary of the last five years of advocacy work for bikes in Memphis, give a synopsis of where we are today, toss out a few ideas for the future, finally offering practical strategies for making the streets of tomorrow a reality today. Class starts at 10 a.m. on Saturday and will run til noon. Please RSVP in advance, as there is limited space.
Many of you have seen the improvements going on at Revolutions. If you haven't please stop by and pick up a paint brush, or, just hang out and check out the space. It's an exciting time for bicycling in Memphis!
I hope to see some of you in the shop soon!