by Hannah Sayle
As stated in a press release issued today, Mayor A C Wharton gave orders to the city's Engineering Division to proceed with dedicated bike lanes on both sides of Madison Avenue between Cooper and McNeil.
The news comes after months of debate between cycling advocates and concerned stakeholders on Madison. Bike lane advocates have feared the relegation of bike lanes to low-traffic, and potentially less practical, thoroughfares. Stakeholders, including business owners along Madison, have voiced concerns about decreased traffic flow on the street, which they fear would contribute to a loss of business.
Wharton addressed this concern in his statement, pointing to a study done by engineering consultants Kimley-Horn and Associates. According to the study, vehicular traffic between major intersections on Madison would only be slowed by a few seconds under the proposed "road diet" plan, which includes the designated bike lanes.
Wharton hinted that this is only the beginning of developments on Madison Avenue — developments he hopes will make the area a destination for Memphians and tourists alike.
"We will be looking at possible future enhancements along Madison Avenue," he said, "including other streetscape and infrastructure improvements.”
The repaving and restriping necessary to create the bike lanes will be paid for with federal funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. No funds from the city’s general fund are required for the Madison bike lanes.