Bike Lanes Welcomed at Rhodes Meeting



Kyle Wagenschutz
  • Kyle Wagenschutz
The plan to reconfigure North Parkway to accomodate bike lanes between downtown and the zoo got a warm reception from a crowd of about 200 people at Rhodes College Tuesday.

During the 75-minute meeting, there were questions about safety but no outright opposition to the project, which could be completed this year. Kyle Wagenschutz, the city's bicycling coordinator, said it would be a first step and some details have not been worked out. It would not require widening or repaving North Parkway, but it would reduce from three to two the number of lanes for cars on both sides of the median.

The bike lanes would begin near the entrance to Rhodes College on North Parkway, pass Snowden School, cross McLean, go around the underpass at North Watkins, and connect to Danny Thomas. From there to Front Street and the bridge to Mud Island, the street name changes to A. W. Willis and would be unchanged.

Between Danny Thomas and McLean there would be a bike lane and a parallel parking lane on each side, plus two lanes for cars. There are also bus stops in the proposed bike/parking lane and several intersecting driveways and cross streets. Between McLean and West Drive in Hein Park, which is across from the north entrance to Overton Park, there would be a bike lane and a buffer lane but no street parking. The East Parkway and North Parkway intersection is considered to be too busy for bike lanes, and plans are to eventually route bikes through the park and connect with Broad Street and new Greenline to Shelby Farms.

People at the meeting asked about "dooring" (car doors opening as bikes go by), congestion when parents are taking their children to Snowden or picking them up, signs (the bigger the better was the general sentiment), storm drains and grates, pedestrian crossings, the connection to Broad Street ("murky," Wagenschutz said), riding on the sidewalk (legal) and turning across car lanes or bike lanes (be careful).

Charles McVean, who is backing the bike trail over the Harahan Bridge, also spoke to the crowd and got a nice hand. He said his hope is to eventually see Memphis as the epicenter of a bike trail along the Mississippi River from New Orleans to St. Louis on the river levee.

"Unless there is a fatal engineering structural flaw, we're gonna go across that bridge," he said.

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