While city divides Riverside Drive to make bike lane, another group asks public first

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Although it may be too late, in less than a week, you’ll finally get a chance to tell the city what you think about changes it made to Riverside Drive to make room for bicyclists and walkers.

Many downtown drivers were outraged when the city narrowed the only street along Memphis’s riverfront from four lanes to two, especially because it did so without first getting public input.

But not everyone operates that way. WREG found there’s a local group that actually wants the public’s input on bike lanes before decisions are made.

Bike lanes are popping up across the Mid-South. Some people like them, some don’t.

So the Metropolitan Planning Organization wants to know what you think before taking future plans to surrounding cities. Nothing is set in stone, and the group is holding a series of meetings in Shelby and DeSoto counties, plus parts of Fayette and Marshall counties.

Nicholas Oyler with MPO said, “It’s critical to receive input from the public, because, ultimately, this plan serves the community, serves the residents.”

MPO is about halfway through its public meetings. Oyler said people appreciate being able to voice their opinions.

“Our meetings have been well attended. We’re about halfway through our schedule of 15 public meetings in this round.”

Meanwhile, the city of Memphis did the opposite. They went ahead and turned most of Riverside into a bike lane, and it’s going to stay that way for 12 to 18 months. They are asking for input after the fact.

The city calls it a “test period” and claims it made these changes between Beale and Georgia so city engineers can get a good idea if they will work.

City Councilman Myron Lowery told WREG the people need to have their voice heard, but he does not anticipate anything changing.

“Most people do not like change,” he said. “If it’s working well one way, they don’t want to see it change. They don’t want to see bike lanes. They don’t want to see streets tightened up with a roundabout. They like it just the way it is, and that’s what we have to overcome.”

The city gets its first chance next week. The public input meeting for Riverside Drive is Tuesday night at the Beale Street Landing.

MPO will host public forums Monday at Baker Community Center in Millington, Wednesday at Bartlett City Hall and August 4 at Germantown Economic and Community Development.

There will also be meetings August 5 at the Benjamin L. Hooks Library, August 6 at Hickory Hill Community Center, and August 7 at the Cordova Branch Library.

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