People sound off on Riverside Drive lane changes

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Two-way traffic has replaced the once divided roadway on Riverside Drive.

The city closing off part of the road for bikers and pedestrians surprised the Prestwich family on their visit to Tom Lee Park.

“It made it harder to drive because there is only one lane now,” Clint Prestwich said.

“I can see how it would be safer for bicyclists driving down that street because those cars really do get close to them,” Alissa Prestwich added.

On Monday afternoon, we found people still using the park sidewalks.

“When it is crowded and you are trying to ride your bike, it would be kind of hard,” Carmilla Lane, who exercises downtown, said.

Bike riders like the added space of the new lanes.

“It opens up more of the city to bikers because there are not many places for bikers to have a dedicated lane,” Clark Heckman, who rides his bicycle downtown, said.

Now the city will study accidents, traffic speed and the impact on other downtown streets to see how this plan is working.

“There was a public presentation made about this time last year,” Kyle Wagenschutz, Memphis’ Bike and Pedestrian Coordinator, said.

He added it’s also better to show the plan to people.

“Rather than having months and months of public dialogue, looking at renderings and talking about what could happen through a variety of options, the city is looking at this pilot and saying here is an option,” Wagenschutz said.

He says they did the same thing when adding bikes lanes on Broad Street.

Three public meetings will allow those who work and live downtown to air their concerns about the Riverside Drive plan.

“Now turning basically one of those lanes into like a one-lane highway type of situation, with all the traffic being down there and people coming off Beale Street late at night, it may be some concern, but I don’t know,” Tim Flowers, who lives downtown, said.

The lane changes are just a test for now, and how much they are used will help determine if the change becomes permanent.



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