Memphis Marching Forward on Safe Streets

Something important is happening in Memphis, Tennessee.

Commuting on one of the new protected bike lanes in Memphis. Photo: Memphis Daily News

Out on the streets, the city has made progress on its plan to add 55 miles of bike lanes in two years, including the installation of some protected bike lanes. In addition, the state of Tennessee has been overhauling its transportation policies in a shift away from road expansion.

More change is coming. Anthony Siracusa at the Green Lane Project blog reports that Memphis Mayor A.C. Wharton has issued an executive order on complete streets that will require a big update of the city’s street design practices:

Memphis has quickly become a municipal leader among Tennessee cities, rethinking transportation policies to focus more on providing safe places for people to walk and bike.  Among the opportunities afforded Memphis by its new Complete Streets policy is the chance to create a design guide that will provide public works, engineering, and a host of other divisions with brand new street design guidelines.

The policy says “the City of Memphis Department of Engineering shall partner with relevant Departments of City of Memphis and Shelby County Governments, the Memphis Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, and the Memphis and Shelby County Complete Streets Coalition to create a Street Design Manual for use in all city departments.”  The city’s new policy means Memphis will establish an entirely new blueprint to guide the creation of city streets, producing a document similar in scope to the City of Chicago’s bikeway design guide.

The Executive Order comes at an ideal time for Memphis, as the city is positioned to develop a design guide that will stand among the most innovative in the country.

The news out of Memphis is evidence that progress toward safer, multi-modal streets is not limited to places like New York and Portland. The movement to bring city transportation policy into the 21st Century is increasingly broad-based.

Elsewhere on the Network today: The Kansas Cyclist reports a statewide tourism group is urging Governor Sam Brownback to expand bicycle trail development. California High Speed Rail blog says that Congressional Republicans are trying to block federal loans that would help fund a Los Angeles-to-Las Vegas rail corridor. And Bike Delaware shares anonymous advice from Beltway insiders to bicycle advocates shared at last week’s Bike Summit.