THERE’S NO ESCAPE
It’s a fact of Memphis life that you will do some kind of business in the Poplar Corridor at least once a week. It’s not without its competition (looking at you Summer Avenue) but it is the de facto business district of Memphis. Perhaps city geography and 1970’s traffic flow culture can give us reasons why our business district is linear instead of in the city center. But no matter the reason, we have to deal with it (until we can change it), and it’s pretty difficult to deal with via bicycle. We can’t just go straight down the middle, stopping and shopping as we need, we must strategically strike using outlying streets, hitting the shop we need then going out and back in to another location. My Strava looks like a big ol’ game of leap frog!
…Memphis Police will have to find a new speed trap!
Until we have the huevos to institute a ciclovia on Poplar we will have to rely on the connector streets to get safer. Kirby is one of those connectors that is upping the safety game right now – “buffered bike lanes with flexible delineators from Poplar to Neshoba, buffered bike lanes from Neshoba to Massey Ln (no flexible delineators) and traditional bike lanes from Massey Ln to Humphreys. New curb ramps and signal modifications at Humphreys will allow bike access to Wolf River Greenway.” per Kyle Wagenschutz, Bike/Ped Coordinator for the City of Memphis.
THIS DIET WORKS
In a little more detail, the plans will take the wide outside lane on either side of the section from Poplar to Neshoba and add a bike lane as well as on-street parking on the East side of the street. This gives the residents there, as well as the businesses and retail across the street, more parking. The speed limit will remain 40mph but this is a great example of a road diet and that 40mph will feel more like 35 to 40mph instead of 50+mph that wider streets currently support. Take note of the bike lane heading southbound from Neshoba towards N. Quail Hollow and how it moves to the left hand side of the right turn lane for those wanting to keep travelling south – this is to avoid the right hook from turning vehicles. As an added safety feature, this section will be painted green, as will the majority of intersections throughout this project.
Neshoba to Massey Ln is a pretty straightforward buffered bike lane affecting the same traffic calming measures seen earlier. The speed limit will still drop to 35mph here as it always has. The only really interesting piece is that hopefully Memphis Police will have to find a new speed trap!
Massey Ln to Humphreys northbound gets the green bike lane straight through the right turn lane onto Humphreys. This will get all of the residents from these neighborhoods onto the Wolf River Greenway much more safely. And those coming off of the WRG will have a direct southbound lane, connecting the thousands of users to the businesses and retail at Kirby and Poplar.
JIMMY BUFFERED BIKE LANES
Here are the plans:
While these new bike lanes will get people who bicycle safely to Poplar they don’t get them safely across. Wagenschutz is working on a treatment for Kirby south of Park Avenue, possibly to Quince, while Poplar to Park is an interesting little section that actually belongs to Germantown. The Greenprint shows a utility line connector from the Wolf to Nonconnah Creek that is 30% complete. This section is probably the shortest distance between the Wolf and Nonconnah Creek and would give greater access for South Memphis residents to open spaces like Shelby Farms and its greenline and Wolf River Greenway. Even still access would still be blocked by the regions single greatest barrier for equitable green space access – the Bill Morris Parkway/I-385.
In yet another instance of AND, and not EITHER OR, we need to provide safe access across this barrier or we will remain a city divided AND we need to activate the existing green space south of that I-385 barrier. Then we can have our barbecue sandwiches in paradise.
Tags: Bike Lane, Germantown, Memphis, Nonconnah, Wolf River