Memphis Releases “Pedestrian and School Safety Action Plan”

Today, the City of Memphis releases its Pedestrian and School Safety Action Plan, the result of an 18-month planning process focused on prioritizing and constructing pedestrian infrastructure near schools in Memphis. These projects will serve students walking to and from school, as well as residents accessing parks, libraries, community centers, transit stops, and other public resources often located near schools.

Following the successful creation of a program designed to financially assist low-income, disabled, or senior citizen homeowners with the repair of sidewalks in front of their homes, this plan is aligned with Mayor A C Wharton’s strategic priority to make Memphis a city of choice by creating safe and vibrant neighborhoods by providing safe alternatives for Memphis residents to travel around the city and focuses specifically on the needs of our most vulnerable pedestrians – children.

“Improving the sidewalks and street crossings for pedestrians is an endeavor that impacts all the residents of Memphis,” said Memphis Mayor A C Wharton, Jr. “At the end of the day, we’re all pedestrians. The moment we get out of our cars to go in a store, take a walk to the park with our families, or step out of the office to grab lunch at the restaurant next door, we each expose ourselves to an environment that should be welcoming and safe. For the 20,000 children walking to and from school each day, this plan is the launch pad by which we create a safer world for the next generation of Memphis residents.”

The plan utilizes a number of data-driven measures to evaluate the existing conditions for pedestrians, predict the areas of highest pedestrian use, and develop a $200 million improvement list, phased over a twenty year period of time. How the city will fully fund the implementation of the plan remains a work in progress – likely a combination of grant, philanthropic, and capital funds. However, the city already has more than $3 million of pedestrian projects underway which, among others, will provide sidewalk improvements near Hanley and Dunbar Elementary Schools in Orange Mound and along Range Line Road in Frayser, and roadway crossing improvements near Trezevant High School in Frayser, Lester Elementary School in Binghampton, and Cherokee Elementary School in the Cherokee neighborhood, east of Lamar Ave.

“The City of Memphis has nearly 3,500 miles of sidewalks with a replacement value exceeding $1 billion,” said Memphis City Engineer John Cameron. “With a maintenance burden so vast, it has always been difficult to evaluate where the greatest need for sidewalk repair or sidewalk improvements were at any given time. What this plan allows us to do, for the first time, is strategically think about improvements for the next 20 years, where they’ll do the most good, and work to fund, implement, and evaluate those projects on an annual basis.”

While the prioritization of projects weighed heavily on proximity to schools and feedback from Shelby County Schools and principals and officials, the plan also took into account pedestrian counts and usage along routes, a historical crash analysis detailing the circumstances leading to pedestrian crashes in Memphis, proximity to other common pedestrian destinations like parks, community centers, libraries, and transit stops, as well as corridors that serve persons with disabilities.

“This plan is one of the most comprehensive pedestrian planning documents I’ve seen used across the country; both in its intended scope of impact and its breadth of analysis, “said Kyle Wagenschutz, Bicycle/Pedestrian Program Manager for the City of Memphis. “Implementation of this plan will allow us to redefine the experience of being a pedestrian in Memphis. Just like we’ve changed the conversation for bicycling in Memphis, we have the ability to make this city a national example of how transforming the streets to be safer for pedestrians is good for our health, economies, and neighborhoods.”

Full PDF copies of the plan document and its supplemental technical memos are available for download under the “Pedestrian Projects” tab.

Memphis Named a Bronze-Level Bicycle Friendly Community

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Today, the League of American Bicyclists recognized Memphis with a Bronze-Level Bicycle Friendly Community (BFCSM) award, joining 350 visionary communities from across the country.

With the announcement of 42 new and renewing BFCs today, Memphis joins a leading group of communities, in all 50 states, that are transforming neighborhoods.

“We applaud this new round of communities for investing in a more sustainable future for the country and a healthier future for their residents and beyond,” said Andy Clarke, President of the League of American Bicyclists. “The growing number of leaders taking up bicycling as a way of solving many complex community problems is encouraging. We look forward to continuing to work with these communities as we move closer to our mission of creating a bicycle-friendly America for everyone.”

The BFC program is revolutionizing the way communities evaluate their quality of life, sustainability and transportation networks, while allowing them to benchmark their progress toward improving their bicycle-friendliness. With this impressive round, there are now 350 BFCs in all 50 states. The Bronze-Level BFC award recognizes Memphis’ commitment to improving conditions for bicycling through investment in bicycling promotion, education programs, infrastructure and pro-bicycling policies.

“We’re honored to be recognized for the rapid progress we’ve made in making Memphis more bicycle friendly. More bicycling is an indicator of vibrancy and activity in cities like Memphis,” said Memphis Mayor A C Wharton, Jr. “As a mode of transportation, bicycling is a tool for economic empowerment and social equity. As a method of recreation, bicycling promotes public health and encourages tourism. For these reasons, and many more, bicycling will continue to play a prominent role in Memphis’ transportation system for years to come.”

The BFC program provides a roadmap to building a Bicycle Friendly Community and the application itself has become a rigorous and an educational tool in itself. Since its inception, more than 800 distinct communities have applied and the five levels of the award – diamond, platinum, gold, silver and bronze – provide a clear incentive for communities to continuously improve.

“We’ve constructed more than 100 miles of new dedicated bicycle lanes and trails in a very short period of time,” said Kyle Wagenschutz, Bicycle/Pedestrian Program Manager for the City of Memphis. “This infrastructure, combined with the community-based programs that help provide bicycles and the knowledge to operate them safely has resulted in a quadrupling of bicycles on our streets and fewer bicycle-involved crashes.”

“This award is really a benchmark of Memphis’ work to create communities that are accessible by all forms of transportation,” said Livable Memphis Program Director John Paul Shaffer. “It’s an inspiration for our continued work with the city and our community partners to make sure our streets provide safe connections to jobs, recreation, and other opportunities for everyone, regardless of how they get there.”

To apply or learn more about the BFC program, visit bikeleague.org/community.