Half of Riverside Drive taken for bike lanes without public input

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — If you take Riverside Drive during your morning commute, you know that it’s closed, but what you may not know is this plan will be in effect for the next year and a half.

“Why didn’t I hear this? That’s crazy! It’s a major thoroughfare. I just can’t imagine them doing that,” David Simmons said.

Like many, he had no idea Riverside Drive is getting a facelift. The road is going from four lanes to two.

The news is official as of Tuesday. After a month of limited travel on this road, the city is retooling the way you use Riverside Drive.

City Engineering Director John Cameron said, “We’ve been talking about this for some time. I don’t think there was an official, I don’t think there was an official press release. We decided following Memphis in May we’d be making some changes.”

Those changes take effect June 6 when the road re-opens.

The stretch from Beale to Georgia becomes one lane each direction, making room for bicyclists and walkers.

Simmons added, “Sounds good in a committee meeting up in city hall somewhere and they just do it.”

City leaders say these changes are meant to draw a younger, more creative crowd downtown.

But Simmons isn’t convinced.

“That is just so far fetched. Did they hire an out-of-town consultant to tell them that? They just need to get in touch with the people down here to find out what’s going on and what’s going to bring them back.”

The city plans to hold several meetings so the public can weigh in on what they think about the changes, although they’ve already been made.

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