THE COMFORT ZONE
At this point we’re past the derisive, “Why don’t you go ride your bicycle at x place instead of on the street?” At least I wish we are. I think that as a society, even in Memphis, we have come to accept the bicycle as a form of transportation. But as we progress, some people believe bicycles should remain in certain places and on certain roads. It’s akin to saying, “interstates were built for cars; why don’t you just drive on the interstate?” While I’m not advocating for Interstate bicycle usage, getting to your destination via the most practical route is a right that all modes of transportation share.
Maybe you aren’t comfortable with all of the construction on the Interstate. Maybe sometimes you just want to take a different route. Maybe I’m comparing the Interstate to Main Street and a different route to Front Street.
“This is Southern Hospitality 2.0.”
The construction on Main Street is desperately needed for bicycle and pedestrian safety. The most common non-race-related accident that I hear about is the result of trolley tracks; pedestrians trip, bicycles flip, and motorcycles slip. The result is hesitation to, or worse – fear of, riding on Main Street. And some people are altogether just not comfortable with it. (I’m also not advocating for the removal of the trolley tracks. On the contrary, I wish they ran all the way to Overton Square. Then our city might feel more, *gasp*, connected!) Personally, I don’t like dodging all of the pedestrians on the Mall.
Having ridden Front Street many an early Saturday morning on Peddler Bike Shop’s Toxic Tour, I probably irritated 1 or 2 car drivers by riding in the next to rightmost lane. That was to avoid all the potholes and patchwork. But now the street is repaved from A.W. Willis to Union and will get a mixture of bicycle lanes and sharrows.
These new lanes will better connect residents of Mud Island to destinations all the way to South Main and vice-versa. On a larger scale, this section of road is part of the MRT – the Mississippi River Trail – that connects Lake Itasca to the Gulf of Mexico. Cycle-tourists will ride in on this road and hopefully stay for a spell before heading over the Harahan Bridge on their way to New Orleans.
But most importantly, this is a first impression area. As one exits I-40 to Poplar this is the first street they see. It used to tell drivers, “All the scary stuff you heard about Memphis is true.” Now it tells drivers, “Memphis cares about it’s residents and their safety and we want all to feel welcome here. Drive your car, ride your bicycle, walk around; there’s room for you at the table. This is Southern Hospitality 2.0.”
Now if we could only do something about the way Riverside Drive treats people who bicycle…
*This article will be updated with pictures of the bike lanes once they are striped.*Tags: Bike Lane, Memphis