Thursday, December 4, 2008

Bikes and Memphis

Hi all--

Last month, the Sustainable Shelby Draft Implementation Strategies was released to members of the Sustainable Shelby Initiative Planning Committees. The strategy guide is a list of "and here's how were gonna do its" based on feedback from 7 committees that brainstormed on how to make Shelby County a sustainable county. I represented the bicycling community on the Traffic and Transportation Committee, and so I wanted to share with you the strategies that are aimed specifically at creating a city where riding a bicycle is, well, more easy than it is today.

First, the MPO will work for an award that recognizes the city's bicycle amentities:

1.1.6: U.S. cities that are attracting and retaining talent are also bike-friendly communities. All
jurisdictions within Shelby County by December 1, 2009, will have applied to the League
of American Bicyclists, with help from the Metropolitan Planning Organization's (MPO)
bicycle and pedestrian coordinator, to become a "Bicycle Friendly Community."
10 & 34

Read more here about the process involved in winning a designation.

Turns out the bike is great for calming traffic:

1.5.6: Traffic calming design elements are essential to great neighborhoods. These elements
include raised crosswalks, curb extensions, street trees, on-street parking, bicycle lanes,
medians and narrow lanes and should be placed into the Memphis and Shelby County
Unified Development Code (UDC), especially along areas identified in the UDC with
pedestrian and urban frontage zones. 35

This is the big one, ladies and gentlemen. This staff person, who will work for the city, will be the point person for how Memphis develops as a bicycle town. We are at a moment when bicycle planning can be done in the spirit of tokenism, that is a spirit of concession, or it can be done with a spirit of genuine determination to affirm the importance of bicycles in urban areas. I think the person in this position will affect the direction we take:

5.16: Livable cities are also bikable cities. Our community needs to ensure that more attention
is given to the role of bicycles as alternative transportation and vehicles for community-
building. By June 1, 2009, the Memphis Urban Area Memphis Planning Organization
(MPO) will hire a Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator for the greater Memphis region.
The coordinator will advance the potential of new bicycle initiatives, ensure that bicycle
needs are integrated into plans, and support programs of grassroots bicycle
organizations 10

The following reccomendation has to do with affecting the private sector:

1.6.17: Major employers should respond to and encourage more biking to work. They should
provide shower facilities for employees who bike to work. The Unified Development Code
should allow for a reduction in the number of required parking spaces if a business
provides an approved bicycle rack. 40

This statement reccomends that the best and most up to date bicycle plans be included as a part of the long range transportation plan for Memphis. The Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) has already created a plan, and updated that original plan. This plan now appears in Chapter 9 of Memphis' Long Range Transporation Plan. It's titled "Bicycle and Pedestrian Component." Ill send it to you if you want it.

More concerted action and attention to complete streets will better address bicycle and
pedestrian needs. By July 1, 2009, the Memphis Urban Area Metropolitan Planning
Organization's Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator will update MPO's Bicycle and
Pedestrian Plan to incorporate changes to the plan suggested in 2030 Long Range
Transportation Plan, ensure that the plan contains the latest design guidelines for bicycle
and pedestrian facilities, incorporate elements of the different jurisdiction's updated
zoning and subdivision codes and comprehensive plans, and ensure the implementation
of the recommendations found in the plan and identify bicycle lanes that can be easily
10 & 34

This is a solid reccomendation. I also want to point out that I read something very interesting--well, interesting to those of us who enjoy the rancor of Memphis politics. The debate now is around "Practical Consolidation," and what that would mean. Well, the police seem to have a hard time working together, it sure aint practical to integrate the schools, but it appears that the two engineering Departments constitute a practical point of consoliation for the Memphis/Shelby Count governements. This is good.

I think that is what this "Memphis Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Organization" language is about--it might represent the combined efforts of the city and county engineering and planning divisions, as is done currently with the Office of Planning and Dvelopment.

1.6.19: All jurisdictions within Shelby County should provide by July 1, 2009, the Memphis Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Organization's Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator with their upcoming paving schedules and other relevant public works projects so that the
coordinator can work with the different jurisdictions to help install appropriate bicycle and
pedestrian facilities identified in the MPO's Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan.

This is a huge one yall. Inter jusridictional means "from the local governement."

1.6.20 Shelby County should promote an inter-jurisdictional dedicated funding source for bicycle and pedestrian improvements in its CIP and yearly operating budgets by January 2010. 10

On the "philosophy" of sharing the road, and of the Bike Coordinator's job:

4.1.6: A stronger "share the road" philosophy is needed in our community. By January 1, 2010, the Memphis Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Organization's Bicycle and Pedestrian
Coordinator should work to create a "share the road" website as a platform for
pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists on how to safely operate on the roadways.

Sharing the good word, of the new "philosophy"

4.1.7: The Metropolitan Planning Organization's Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator should
partner by January 1, 2010, with health and educational institutions to create a safety
education campaign by using resources like The Roadway Safety Foundation's education
grant, radio advertisements, newspaper articles, and online media to educate the public
about how to act safely whether they are pedestrians, bicyclists, or motorists.

The "Green Office" would have roof top parking for bikes!

5.1.1: For reasons equal parts symbolic and pragmatic, a center for sustainability should be
built that becomes ground zero for all things sustainable in our community. "The Green
Center" would be home to the Office of Sustainability, but more importantly, it would be
home to a sustainable business incubator, a venture fund for green businesses, a one-
stop shop for sustainability practices and resources, and for green technology displays.
In addition, The Green Center should offer space for nonprofit green organizations'
offices so they could co-located in ways that would allow them to share administrative
costs and to develop new partnerships and programs through cross-fertilization of ideas
and energies. Special emphasis should be given to a location that allows for adaptive
reuse of an existing business with the potential for a green roof, special parking for
vehicles using alternative energy, bicycle commuters, etc. The Green Center should be
the single place where the inspirations of the sustainability movement in our community
converge with our aspirations for the future. 48

So now that you are all snoozing, this is a really great document with lots of potential. Why? Barring something totally crazy and unforseen, A.C. Wharton will be our mayor in 2011, and he was the man behind this plan. It was well done, and includes alot of language favorable to the bike. Thanks to all the folks who came and voted at the Sustainable Shelby Meeting in July. Job well done--now the work begins.


Anonymous said...

Looks good! I don't think they meant they would have rooftop parking for bikes, but to include green roofs as well as special parking for fuel efficient cars as well as bikes. Sounds like they want a LEED certified building! Great to hear.

A Taco said...

Good Call Kermit. I still want to park on the roof, though!

Anonymous said...

Can you e-mail this to me please? bcooper5 at