South Memphis Becomes Bicycle 'Lab' With New Grant

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South Memphis will become a laboratory for bicycle infrastructure over the next three years thanks to a newly won grant from national bike advocacy group PeopleForBikes.

Memphis was one of 10 cities selected for the Big Jump Project. The program hopes to double or triple bike ridership in specific neighborhoods over three years by building and connecting bike networks.

“By focusing on South Memphis, we have the opportunity to properly demonstrate the beneficial and transformative impact that biking can have in economic development, neighborhood revitalization, and access to recreation,” said Nicholas Oyler, the bikeway and pedestrian program manager with the city of Memphis. “My hope is to transfer the lessons learned and programs implemented in South Memphis to the city as a whole.”

The win will bring the equivalent of $200,000 in technical support from PeopleForBikes and $50,000 in matching funds or commitments from local organizations. The program aims to illustrate the ways U.S. cities can use bicycles to “radically improve the health and vitality of their communities,” according to a news release.

“From encouraging physical activity to helping with congestion, from better connecting people to work training and education, to bolstering economic development, bikes are a rather inexpensive way to improve communities,” said Kyle Wagenschutz, PeopleForBikes director of local innovation and former bike/ped manager for the city of Memphis. “Communities are not looking at bikes as a catalyst for change on their own, but rather as an important part of the momentum happening to change cities for the better.”

Other cities to win the Big Jump Project funds are New York City; Baltimore; Portland, Ore.; Los Angeles; Providence, Rhode Island; New Orleans; Fort Collins, Colo.; Austin, Texas; and Tucson, Ariz.

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