MEMPHIS DAILY NEWS | Doug Carpenter
Voice your opinion on Memphis’ proposed repaving and bike lane by taking the city’s online survey by 11:59 p.m. Monday, April 17.
Our current administration’s platform desires to be brilliant at the basics, but what is the definition of basic?
“Basic” is not merely the ability to reduce crime, provide sanitation services or put out fires; in today’s world, it means more than that. The basics are the acceptable standard of living in a large metropolitan city.
Memphis is growing and thriving with our green spaces, enhanced infrastructure, commercial investment and retail developments. Our local leadership across sectors has a collective drive to be a first-class city to engage, attract and retain citizens. I suggest we are closer than we think to achieving and maintaining this goal.
I applaud the city’s promotion of 10 new bike lanes along with upcoming repaving projects. New ideas always face opposition, and that appears to be the case with some of the proposed bike lanes. But bike lanes are not a new idea. Biking is not a new idea – it first burst onto the American transportation scene 125 years ago. Over the past decade, bike commuting has increased 60 percent. Bike lanes, in my opinion, are basic services for a growing, contemporary city.
It is essential that we offer safety for our citizens regardless of their method of transportation. In a city where 40 percent of residents don’t have access to a private vehicle, traveling on two wheels needs to be a component of a viable ecosystem of shared mobility transportation options.
In addition to equity, promoting safe biking generates congeniality and cultural connection. Bike lanes have a direct impact on tourist expectations, spending and interest in the historic amenities that are already enjoyed by over 10 million Memphis visitors per year. Additionally, bike lane expansions serve an important role in connecting our other bike arteries, green lines and park systems to more of our citizenry.
Memphis has recently received national appreciation for our growing bike culture. Why would we choose to slam on the brakes in an area where we’re recognized as progressive? Saying no to bike lanes is tantamount to saying no to the growth of our city as an attractive place to work, grow, live and play.
Renewed interest in and focus on a reimagined riverfront – a beautiful park system, Big River Crossing and all of the associated amenities – as available by bike travel means more than just convenience for a few people. It’s an investment in our public health, transportation systems, tourism industry and civic strength.
Bike lane expansion is also brilliant from a financial perspective. Since 80 percent of the funding is federal, this is a no-brainer from an investment perspective. We get a 4-to-1 return toward connecting successful neighborhoods culturally and commercially, and increasing property value along the way.
Brilliant at the basics is basically really brilliant thinking. Let’s stay on that course and open new pathways, including growing our network of protected bike lanes.