Ten things Memphis area cyclists should put on their wish lists
By: Michael Lander
All of us have wishes and sometimes we even go as far as making wishes on
shooting stars, when we blow out birthday candles, after we pull apart
wishbones, when we cast money into a fountain or a wishing well, or in so many
other different ways.
As much fun as it might be to imagine that all of our wishes could possibly
come true in any of these fantastical ways, most of us are sensible enough to
know that this doesn’t really happen, at least not in real life.
This is not to say, however, that there is anything wrong with making wishes
because every great accomplishment or achievement that we have in our
lives begins with a simple wish.
The legendary basketball player, Michael Jordan, once said, “Some people want
it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen,” and so there
is nothing wrong with having wishes so long as you are willing to try and make
those wishes come true.
It is with this in mind that Memphis area cyclists should consider
coming up with some wishes of their own of what they would like to see happen
to make Memphis,
and the surrounding communities even better for cycling.
Even though the Memphis area has really come a long way in less than a decade, (having
come from absolutely nothing to now having hundreds of miles of bike lanes, trails,
and other cycling-related amenities that we have today), we should not rely on
others to look out for our interests, but we should be proactive and to have a
wish list that will help to ensure that we get whatever will make things even
better for us as a community.
Here, then, is a list of ten (10) things that we, as a community of cyclists,
should consider having on our wish lists.
(1) More protected bike lanes
We’ve seen hundreds of miles of bike lanes put down in and around Memphis,
beginning in 2008, and as welcoming a sight that this has been, we have yet to see but one protected
bike lane installed thus far.
Having more of these, especially on roads with heavier vehicular traffic
should definitely make the wish lists of Memphis area cyclists.
(2) Finding ways to provide more
space and separation for cyclists
Bike lanes, protected or otherwise, are not only something that most cyclists
would like to see, because it helps to provide a space for cyclists to navigate
on, but they can also help to entice some to ride who might not otherwise feel
safe riding on our city streets. If bike
lanes cannot be put in, cyclists should have other options made available to
them which can provide more space
and separation between them and motor vehicles and this might, at the very
least, include wider shoulders. Having
city engineers come up with possible solutions in these cases is something that
we can hope for and should have on our wish lists.
(3) A vastly expanded network of bike
lanes and trails
The Memphis Bikeway and
Pedestrian Program Manager, Nick Oyler, recently said that one of his main goals
is to help connect some of the existing bike lanes that we already have with
one another. While this is absolutely great
news for those who ride around in Memphis, we can only hope that this will
eventually lead to a much more ambitious plan of connecting our bike lanes and
trails, not only to nearby communities, but branching out well beyond that in
all directions. Such a vast network as
that would make a nice addition to any wish list that we could come up with.
(4) Protected bike lanes on Riverside
One of the best places to see and visit is downtown Memphis and the area along
the Mississippi River
and so it is disappointing that it isn’t exactly easily or possible to get
around on a bike, especially on Riverside
Drive. No wish list could possibly
be created that did not include having protected bike lanes on this iconic
roadway, which would, ideally, connect The
Big River Crossing over the Mississippi River with the Wolf
(5) Lighted bike trails
Being able to ride a bike on trails at night may seem like something that would
only appeal to a small, fringe group of cyclists, but people would probably be
surprised by just how many cyclists (including those who want to commute by
bike) would jump at the chance to do this if they were allowed to hit the
trails at night and, if the trails, themselves, had adequate lighting on them. Having trails that are lit, perhaps even like
glow in the dark ones in the Netherlands, would be wildly popular and would
make a nice item to have on a wish list for Memphis area cyclists.
(6) The need for more people to get involved
in support of cycling
When it comes to cycling, the Memphis area has really made a lot of progress
thanks to cycling advocates, non-profit organizations, businesses,
philanthropists, and city leaders who have turned a vision and a dream into a
reality. In order to make even greater
strides in the years ahead, more cyclists need to get involved with any issues
(political or otherwise) that might impact cycling. There is strength in numbers and the cycling
community could become an even greater force by coming together and supporting
one another for the greater good of cycling in and around Memphis. Anyone who has interest in cycling should definitely
have this goal on their wish list.
(7) Finding ways to get more people
out riding bikes
One of the ways that the cycling community could exert an even greater
influence, (and benefit from the allocation of funding and other resources),
would be by increasing the number of those who ride. The challenge for Memphis, and for other
cities, is to come up with new and innovative ways to get more people out on
bikes and to help make the number of cyclists grow, which will not only provide
an economic boost, but, more importantly, will also provide health
and fitness benefits for more of those in our community and for that reason
alone it is well worth having this on our wish lists.
(8) Making streets even safer for pedestrians
Pedestrians and cyclists are especially vulnerable to the threat that is posed
by distracted, impaired, reckless, impatient, or angry drivers. Because of the dangers that these types of
drivers present, more can and should be done, which can include greater
awareness, education, and enforcement.
It might also help to also have a database, which could help to identify
the circumstances of any incidents involving cyclists and pedestrians and what
if any actions were done to help prevent this from happening again. Safety
on our city streets is one of the main goals for Memphis’ Bikeway and
Pedestrian Program Manager and this should absolutely be on each and everyone’s
(9) Addressing the needs of those who
commute on a bike
The percentage of those who actually commute by bicycle in the Memphis area is
relatively low, but for cycling to grow, this is something that will need to
change. In order to accomplish that,
there needs to be a bigger and better network of bike lanes with more support
of businesses and amenities aimed at those who wish to commute on bicycle. Having more people commuting on their bikes
will provide a more economical option for those on a limited income, it could
help ease traffic congestion, and it can lay the necessary groundwork for those
who wish to ride for other purposes.
For these reasons, this should be a “must have” on our wish lists.
(10) Making Memphis one of the best
cities in the U.S. for cycling
The last thing on our wish list is to see Memphis become one of the best cities
in the country for riding a bike and a top destination spot for cycling. Seeing how far that we’ve already come, it
isn’t unreasonable to imagine just how far we may be able to go over the next
The future of cycling in Memphis is limited only by that which we wish for it
to be today. It is for this reason that
we can never underestimate the value of wishing and dreaming for anything.
There is really nothing wrong with wishing…… There is only something wrong with
not doing anything about it.
Jonas Salk once said
that “There is hope in dreams, imagination, and in the courage of those who
wish to make dreams a reality,” and what we need is to have the strength and
courage to do just that.
For those who love to ride a bike, we must do what we can to make cycling not
only good for ourselves, but to make it more feasible and appealing for
We can make this happen if we take these wishes that we have and try to make
them a reality.
T.S. Eliot once said
that, “Sometimes things become possible if we want them bad enough.”
We should have enough of the determination and resolve to one day make all of
our wishes and dreams come true and to help create an even better place for
cycling in and around Memphis.