Sunday, March 18, 2012

Rethinking The Automobile

As you sit there with your cup of coffee and your slight hangover take a moment to watch this video. The subject of the study is New York City but think about how it can be applied to Memphis. Afterwards pop over to Biking In Memphis to read the interview with our buddy Kyle Wagenschutz. You'll see some similarities in which both cities, Memphis and New York City (and with little doubt every major city in America) are plagued with pandering to the automobile.

Just because you can get there in a car that doesn't mean you should. According to Kyle, our "city" covers 300 square miles yet a lot of that is vacant. Built, but not occupied. In particular, I'm thinking about the "warehouse district" that sits between downtown and the medical district. I was out riding the other morning with the objective of getting some "Memphis Bicycle" photos and took a route on Monroe that led me past the old Memphis Cycle & Supply store (ignore my thumb):

This was owned by the Amagliani's, who also own the Schwinn Shop on Summer. There are still supplies on the showroom floor. But what struck me was the amount of other vacant buildings in the area. Buildings which in any other city would already be converted to lofts and retail. You know what else is in this area? The Wonder Bread factory. Yeah. Imagine waking up to the smell of fresh baked bread. Then you also have businesses like Kudzu's and The Hattiloo Theatre right down the street. The only thing missing are affordable apartments and a grocery. When Kyle states that the average commute is 20 miles it makes me wonder why no one has invested more in this district. Sure you can't have a lawn and a white picket fence but there are so many people in this city who aren't looking for that anymore.

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