Complete Streets Presentation – June 18

With nearly a 34% obesity rate, Memphis is ones of America’s most obese cities. There are various reasons why this exists: poor eating habits, lack of health education, and being physically inactive. One way to combat this growing health epidemic is to help create an environment where it is safe and efficient to build activity into the daily routine for Memphians. One of the easiest ways to do this is to create better systems for transportation that promote walking, bicycling, and public transportation use (because this is often times linked to walking and biking). The real challenge here is changing personal habits and preferences in the face of real safety concerns or cultural stigmas associated with those modes of transportation. Fortunately, the City of Memphis has a solution to overcome the obesity barrier and encourage more active transportation in our community: Implementing Complete Streets!

Complete Streets serve many purposes; increasing access to and safety of active transportation modes being one of them. Walking, bicycling, and public transportation use not only combat obesity, but help to prevent other health-related problems such as diabetes, colon cancer, depression, hypertension, stroke, and osteoporosis. One of the biggest concerns to getting people more active is a personal concern about safety, largely stemming from reactions to how our street environment has been designed and built over the last 50-60 years. If  street is built that seems unsafe to walk down, people will not walk down it and will, instead, use their cars. Complete Streets are designed to fix this problem. A complete street is one that enables safe access to all users, young or old, in a wheelchair or walking, riding a bike or riding the bus, or driving a car.

The city of Memphis, in partnership with Smart Growth America and Livable Memphis, will host a Complete Streets Public meeting that will focus on the design elements that make a complete street. This introductory presentation will be held at the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library, 3030 Poplar Avenue, Memphis, TN 38111 on June 18, 2014 at 6pm. Come out and join the City of Memphis and Smart Growth America for this informative public meeting. Registration is not required; just show up prepared to soak in great information on the Complete Streets movement!

It is now time to get active! Encourage and educate family and friends on the benefits of active transportation and how it can positively impact your life. Most importantly, just don’t talk about it, be about it! Instead of driving to your neighborhood store, take the bus or ride a bike. Instead of going to the gym, take a bike ride down one of the many safe bike lanes that were created just for you!   With the implementation of Complete Streets, Memphis is most certainly be on its way to becoming a healthier and more active community.

CS Public Meeting Flyer 1

Join Us For Open Streets On Riverside Drive – June 15

Open Streets Flyer 1Join the City of Memphis, Downtown Memphis Commission, and Riverfront Development Corporation on Sunday, June 15, 2014, from 4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. for an afternoon of fun to celebrate the grand opening of the newly configured Riverside Drive and Memphis’ first Open Streets event.

Open Streets is a nationwide movement to temporarily close streets to automobile traffic, opening them up instead for people to enjoy walking, bicycling, dancing, playing, and socializing.  On June 15, Open Streets comes to Memphis as we celebrate the newly created bicycle and pedestrian pathways along Riverside Drive and find unique ways to encourage healthy activity and community growth by providing a space to make active living an easy, accessible and enjoyable part of life in our great city.

“There are currently over 80 Open Streets events in North America. We’ve been working to host an event like this here in Memphis for some time, and the recent developments along Riverside Drive offer us a great chance to join the Open Streets movement while also celebrating new ways to enjoy our riverfront and our public space,” says Kyle Wagenschutz, Bicycle/Pedestrian Coordinator for the City of Memphis.

Riverside Drive was recently reopened after being closed for two weeks while the City of Memphis implemented a pilot project to make Riverside Drive and the riverfront safer, more active and accessible.  The project entails reducing Riverside Drive vehicle traffic from four lanes to two lanes between Beale Street and Georgia Avenue for the next 12 to 18 months.  The space freed up on Riverside Drive is now devoted to bicycle and pedestrian activities. During the test period, the City will look at how Riverside Drive can be reconfigured permanently from Georgia Avenue to the Pyramid utilizing data gathered during the pilot project and public input scheduled periodically during the test period.  The pilot project will give technical experts a chance to evaluate traffic impacts on Riverside Drive and the downtown street network as the ultimate configuration of Riverside Drive is determined.

The Open Streets event is free and open to the public. Activities will include live music by the Mighty Souls Brass Band, food trucks, games, and spaces for people of all ages and abilities to ride a bike, walk, run, rollerblade, or skateboard along Riverside Drive. All activities will take place along Riverside Drive, adjacent to Tom Lee Park and Beale Street Landing, between Georgia Avenue and Beale Street.

Feel free to bring your bike, your running shoes, your pets (on a leash!), or your lawn chairs and umbrellas and help us celebrate what great open spaces can mean for our community!

Link to the Facebook Event page here.