City’s First On-Street Bike Counter Installed on Florida St.

We’ve installed an automatic bicycle counter on Florida Street, just north of Virginia Avenue. The counter is part of The Big Jump project targeting South Memphis, and is the first permanent on-street bicycle counter in Memphis.

PeopleForBikes, the organization behind The Big Jump, provided the counter at no cost to the City.

We selected the location on Florida Street for two reasons. One, Florida is one of the few relatively bicycle-friendly streets that connects South Memphis with the south end of Downtown (and also in close proximity to the Big River Crossing at the Harahan Bridge). Most other streets in the area terminate at Crump Boulevard or are characterized by multiple lanes of fast moving car traffic. Second, this segment of Florida will receive protected bike lanes next spring. As such, the counter at this location will allow a good before-and-after assessment on the impact of the bike lanes.

This induction loop counter functions by detecting the presence of a passing bicycle. Wires buried just below the street’s surface establish an electromagnetic field that is altered whenever a metallic object of a certain mass passes through. The counter registers this disturbance and logs it as a bicycle (passing motor vehicles leave a different signature and are not logged by the counter). Wireless transmission of the data allows us to access the count logs from any computer or smartphone.

After a week or so of being online, the counter is reporting a daily average of four bicycles. We expect this number to raise dramatically over the next couple years as the network of safe bicycle facilities increases in this part of the city, and especially after the protected bike lanes are added to Florida.

Finally, as attested by the following photo taken before the installation, the counter also filled in an existing hole in the sidewalk and resulted in the removal of weeds that had been growing in said hole. That’s one counter enabling data-driven decisions, rectifying a pedestrian safety hazard, and reducing a bit of blight in one swoop — and the City didn’t even pay for it! Talk about a good investment!

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Great Streets Getting Greater

We have a couple quick announcements on new additions to the Great Streets Pilot Project, as well as programming events along the street.

As of today, the free-standing mural wall is in place! Check it out:

The top photograph features the sponsorship thank-you side of the wall. Believe it or not, the artist painted the logos by hand and without stencils.  In the bottom picture you can see the mural side. Every two to three months, the UrbanArt Commission will hire a different artist to create a new mural. This way, the wall will continue to offer something new along the street during the pilot project. The current artwork is from Meredith Olinger, who specializes in custom wall papers. She created several Memphis-themed wall papers, layered them on the wall, and then tore away at them to reveal the various sheets. The wall itself is sponsored by the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau.

While the intent was to always have built-in benches with the wall, the depth of those benches presents the opportunity that they could double as a small stage for programming and events. We’re working on a couple ideas, but let us know if you have your own!

Speaking of programming, we’ve learned that the Flying Saucer plans to hold tricycle races for customers in the Great Streets cycle track this Friday evening, October 13th, starting at 7:00 Pm. Below is a photo from one of the Saucer’s previous races:

And in case you forgot, here’s the other confirmed programming for the fall: