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    Memphis expected to double miles of bicycle-specific infrastructure

    The North Parkway bike lanes will extend to Overton Park trails, which connects to the upcoming Overton Park Bike Plaza. (Find link to digital tour in story)


    (WMC-TV) - Dozens of cyclists zip through Cooper-Young, brightening the streets with a variety of colorful bikes and reflectors on a monthly ride to explore the city.

    Cycle Memphis began their group tours in 2011 shortly after the city implemented some of its first bicycle-specific infrastructure, which just barely scraped 60 total miles.
    Since then that number has doubled, according to Memphis' 2014 State of Bicycling Report.
    Despite the progress, Memphis remains about 15 years behind in its bike lanes and facilities compared to other U.S. cities, but that does not mean the infrastructure will not get up to speed.
    "All sorts of cities, the same thing [bike infrastructure development] is going on. They got bike lanes going in, they got greenways going in, cycle tracks like the Hampline going in, and connecting their cities with more than just cars," said Harahan Bridge Project Executive Director Greg Maxted.
    In an ongoing project, the Harahan Bridge—also to serve as a pedestrian boardwalk—downtown will connect to paths and lanes across the city to Shelby Farms.
    The North Parkway bike lanes will extend to Overton Park trails, which connects to the upcoming Overton Park Bike Plaza.
    The plaza finally bridges the gap between the park and the Binghampton community. Crowdfunding powered the new line, appropriately called the Hampline.
    "It was $78,000 in six weeks. It's really impressive. The people of Memphis showed they want to see more of this," said Maxted.
    City officials expect construction on the Hampline to begin late summer or fall of 2014. The complete two-mile trail will attach to the Shelby Farms Greenline that then leads 6.7 miles to the urban park. To have a more visual look of the citywide connection, take a look at our digital tour here.
    Federal transportation grants will play a large role in expanding Memphis' bicycle infrastructure, aside from the aforementioned projects, over the next three years.
    The projected 273.31 total miles—shared-use paths, cycle tracks, bike lanes, shared lanes—would most likely move the amount of Memphians cycling to work each day closer to the U.S. national average.
    "Communities and neighborhoods in Memphis are becoming more vibrant due to increased activity along our roadways. Our local businesses are benefiting from this activity too as more people travel past storefronts, experiencing what the community has to offer at a slower and more detail-oriented pace," wrote Bicycle/Pedestrian Coordinator Kyle Wagenschutz in the State of Bicycling Report. "Business districts like Overton Square, Broad Avenue, Madison Avenue, Cooper-Young, and South Main have installed bicycle parking to accommodate the new way patrons are accessing their businesses."
    Also, Wagenschutz wrote that as the number of cyclists increases, the number of bike-related accidents remained unchanged meaning it has decreased over the last three years.
    It indicates the city's focus on building appropriate infrastructure and the dedication to construct livable bike facilitates that benefit Memphis in multiple ways.
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