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Advocating for Great Streets

A Eulogy to the Great Streets Pilot Project
May 25, 2018
A speech given after a Bicycle 2nd Line, on Peabody Place

The artist who created the public art you see here on the street could not be with us, tonight. But he sent some thoughts on the death of the Great Streets Pilot Project. He says,

“I’m very flattered that my design was so cherished, only to now be covered over permanently. However, we all knew that this grand urban idea was experimental for the City of Memphis and its’ citizen users. C’est la vie! It was a tremendous opportunity for the Urban Art Commission and myself, and we’ve expanded many potentials because of this particular project.”           -Artist Anthony D. Lee

 

When Explore Bike Share launched this week, Mayor Strickland was absent.

He was doing important work with the Crime Commission.

We know that putting more eyes on the street, moving by bicycle, is also a great community-based strategy to reduce crime.

Before Bike Share even launched, the Mayor canceled the Great Streets Project. This pilot was an attempt to create a Complete Street.

Complete Streets is an approach to street design, where people from 8 to 80 years old have the ability to use a roadway, no matter how they get around.

  1. Pedestrians,
  2. Bicyclists,
  3. Public Transit Users
  4. and Motorists:

We should all have safe, attractive and comfortable access to our streets.

According to MPD data, during the first 6 months of the Great Streets Pilot Project, there were NO injuries or deaths on Peabody Place as a result of a car crash.  This 6 month period was the first time in FOUR years that Peabody Place had not had a crash resulting in injury or death. To me, ZERO injuries and deathsis a compelling reason to tweak, not rip out, the Great Streets project.

It SEEMS like all of us have a Super Power. When we are on the street on bicycles or on foot, I guess we are invisible. The Mayor, the City Council and a lot of the businesses right here on Peabody Place, haven’t seen us moving by bike.

But look at us tonight. I think we’re pretty hard to miss. So, thank you for coming out to celebrate an attempt to make a Complete Street. Thanks to our friends Lucky 7 Brass Band for making us loud. And thanks to Daniel Masters, owner of Silly Goose for supporting the Great Streets Project. Be sure to buy a drink here, tonight!

And now, you can refuse your Invisibility Super Power. Tell the Mayor to stop ripping out Complete Streets designs. Call the Mayor and your City Council member to educate them on Complete Streets. Sign the Bike Walk Memphis petition about creating more, not fewer, Great Streets. Speak up!, because we want people from 8 to 80 to have easy access to our streets, no matter how we get around.


 

See WMC Action 5 Coverage of the Bicycle 2nd Line

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