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    Memphis groups give Southern bike lanes a clean sweep

    Timberly Moore - The Commercial Appeal -

    As the leaves turn orange-brown and fall from the trees they mix in with debris and litter to create a dangerous situation for cyclists riding in bike lanes. Two groups, Clean Memphis and Livable Memphis, decided to do something about it Saturday with the "Southern Sweep: Bike Lane Cleanup."

    Janet Boscarino, executive director of Clean Memphis, said the bike-lane clearing focused on four locations along Southern Avenue: the intersections at Highland, Goodwyn, Hollywood and Cooper.

    "The idea here is to raise awareness about bike-lane safety," Boscarino said. "It shows that we care about this and that people do want to bike."

    Livable Memphis and Clean Memphis sent out volunteer requests to Memphis community associations, companies and individuals, Boscarino said, to help with the first bike-lane cleanup.

    "We are hoping the city will increase (its) street sweeping, that there will be more frequent volunteer cleanups and companies will adopt bike lanes," she said. "It's going to take a collective partnership effort to keep it clean."

    About 50 volunteers from the Cooper Young Community Association, Coca-Cola and the University of Memphis pitched in to tidy up the lanes, she said.

    Ed Kelley, Cooper-Young volunteer, swept the sidewalks with a push broom as sweat dripped from his brow.

    "I don't ride yet, but this might motivate me," he said.

    Jeramine Tates, truck driver for Coke, said the cleanup benefits drivers as well.

    "I drive up Southern everyday," Tates said. "I don't want to blow my tires. The Number One thing my group picked up today was glass. There was some paper too, but mostly broken bottles.

    Several cyclist stopped to thank the Coke crew, Tates said, for cleaning the lanes so the ride would be less dangerous.

    John Norman, distribution center manager for Coca-Cola/Dr Pepper Bottling Co. of Memphis, said he encountered a cyclist with a flat tire who took a break from pushing his bike to talk with them and thank them for unclogging the streets.

    "That makes it all worthwhile," Norman said. "To us it's important to give back to the community. It's important to take care of our neighborhoods."