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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

All of Memphis can expect a brighter future ahead with cycling

All of Memphis can expect a brighter future ahead with cycling
By:  Michael Lander

Throughout the year, Memphis has plenty of sunshine with an annual average of
64 percent according to NOAA, which gives Memphis area cyclists, and even some
unicyclists, ample opportunities to be able to ride in the sun.

Memphis has a lot of it and the city, on average, has 218 days of sunshine every year, but for Memphis area cyclists, it may be the future that's looking even brighter than ever.  For them, it may be time as Timbuk 3's 1986 song says that "The Future's so Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades."

The future most definitely looks bright for cyclists in and around the city of Memphis and there's really a lot to be optimistic about and to look forward to in the years ahead. 

With an ever expanding number of bike lanes and trails, connecting to those that already exist, and the beginning construction of a bike and pedestrian pathway on the
Harahan Bridge over the Mississippi River, cyclists from here and everywhere will be able to ride their bikes in and around many parts of our city within just a very few years from now.

Much of the progress that has already been made in a cycling infrastructure, and the tremendous growth that is expected in the years ahead, can be attributed, much in part, to the mayor and various other city, business, philanthropic, and community leaders.  Together, they have all demonstrated their steadfast commitment to putting the city on the fast track and making it a much more cyclist-friendly place.

The continuing development of a cycling infrastructure throughout the entire city
and beyond will not only provide a greater opportunity for people to ride a bike
for fun, exercise, or to commute, but, in the years ahead it should help to further
unify neighborhoods, communities, and people with one another in a mutually
shared interest in cycling.

In only a very few number of years their efforts have already paid off in a really big way, as the Bicycle/Pedestrian Program Manager,
Kyle Wagenschutz noted in an article that he wrote entitled, "The Demographics of Cycling in Memphis." 

Bicycle use in Memphis, Wagenschutz said, is increasing at the fastest rate of growth compared to any other city in Tennessee and, according to the
League of American Bicyclists, the city is the 14th fastest growing city for bicycle commuting in the U.S. between 1990 to 2013.  This, he contends, is directly correlated to the increase in dedicated bicycle infrastructure and this trend, he says, will likely continue to rise as more is developed.

One of the most positive and encouraging aspects of all this is how many people will benefit from this, not to mention how many tourists will come to the city who will want to ride a bike whenever they come here for a visit.

While some might think that some areas or neighborhoods may benefit from this more than others, Wagenschutz would likely be one of the first to disagree with anyone who believes that.  As he sees it, city officials have a responsibility to consider the equitable development and the well-being of all of its residents.

Even though a disproportionate number of cyclists currently ride either for exercise
or for recreational purposes, as more bike lanes and trails are created, and connected
to existing ones, it should provide a safer and more viable means to consider it as a
way for commuting as well.

The goal for community-wide inclusiveness may not be better demonstrated than with the development of a bicycle infrastructure, which Wagenschutz says is one of the most diverse and truly collaborative efforts that cultivates positive working relationships between local advocates, neighborhood leaders, city officials, private developers, and philanthropic organizations.

Cycling, it would seem, may be one of the best ways to bring a community together for a common good and it can offer health benefits to all Memphians.  It is also something that can offer an alternative way to commute, and it is an activity that can also be done purely for the enjoyment of it.

With all that Memphis already has in the way of cycling, and will have in the years ahead, the future could not look any brighter than it does today.