January 7, 2013
The success that the city of Memphis has had in creating a safe environment for bicyclists provides a model that California bicycle accident attorneys believe deserves to be replicated in this state. For years, this was one of the most dangerous cities for bicyclists, but all that has been changed, thanks to the expansion of bicycling infrastructure and more street-friendly initiatives to keep bicyclists safer.
In 2008, Bicycling magazine named Memphis as one of the most dangerous and worst cities in America for bicyclists. That was not the first time that the city had been given that dubious honor, but when new mayor AC Wharton Junior was elected the following year, he decided to change things around.
He embarked on an ambitious plan of expansion of bicycling infrastructure. In 2008, the city had just about a mile-and-half of bicycle lanes. Flash forward to 2012, and Memphis has about 50 miles of dedicated bicycle lanes across the city. Close to $1 million was spent in expanding existing bicycling infrastructure, and the city recently was awarded close to $5 million for bicycling projects.
In June of 2012, Memphis bicyclists won another victory when federal officials awarded the city $15 million to turn part of the Harahan Bridge into a pedestrian bicycling crossing. This ambitious project will link downtown Memphis with West Memphis, Arkansas.
The promotion of bicycling infrastructure in the city has also meant an economic boost, and Memphis plans on using the new, expanded lane network as an economic development tool. How seriously the city now takes bicycling safety can be seen in the fact that the Mayor has created a special position called Bike Pedestrian Coordinator for the city.
None of this change has come without protest. Many motorists are already complaining about the lack of parking space in the city after the expansion of biking infrastructure.