This month, the city of Memphis and the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) will hire their first bike/pedestrian coordinator.
Kyle Wagenschutz, a recent graduate of the University of Memphis' master's program in City and Regional Planning, will start September 13th.
"Bicycling is not just about transportation; it's about public health, social networking, and recreation," he says. "It's about getting to and from work, so it's about economic vitality and increasing the economic activity in neighborhoods throughout the city." — by Mary Cashiola
When did you first get into bikes?
I joined the Revolutions Bike Shop about four or five years ago. I went down there to build a bicycle for my own personal use. After doing that, they asked me to volunteer on a regular basis, and that's what really piqued my interest in bicycling.
Why does Memphis need a bike/ped coordinator?
In many regards, bicycle infrastructure here is behind the times compared to other American cities. There's been a lot of federal legislation, money, and policy promoting those types of infrastructure in place in the country for the past 30 years.
Memphis hasn't taken advantage of those resources. Look at Portland, New York, Chicago. The reason those are great pedestrian and bicycle cities — they've been working at it for the past 40 years.
I don't think it's been an intentional oversight, but there's never been a person in place to push it forward as an agenda item in Memphis.
What's your first order of business?
There are two different bicycle and pedestrian plans under the MPO. One is part of the long-range transportation plan. One is a separate bicycle plan done by RPM Consultants.
I think the first order of business is updating the long-range transportation plan and bring in information from the RPM plan. Both were written before any ARRA [American Recovery and Reinvestment Act] funds became available. We need to update them with plans for ARRA money and develop a strategy for implementation.