On Friday, Warren and I attended the bike rally downtown in the hopes of getting Mayor Wharton to support bike lanes on Madison Avenue. Apparently he's gotten cold feet thanks to a handful of very vocal business owners. Warren and I understand the business owners' fears since they got burned when the city spent months building the trolley, but the repaving of the street will only take a few days and is going to happen whether they paint bike lanes or not.
The dedicated lanes will not affect parking or deliveries to the businesses. They are acting out of fear. Instead of supporting what the surrounding residents, aka "their customers" want, a few of them are doing their best to kill the plans for a dedicated bike lane from Cooper to Cleveland. If you patronize Mercury Cleaners, the BP on Belvedere, Crye Leike, or the Mail Center, tell them I said "suck it." Huey's and the BBQ Shop are also among the naysayers. The ridiculous part is that they are in the minority. The majority of businesses on Madison are in support of the lanes. (Here's a list.) This is a case of the squeaky wheels getting the grease.
Have you ever biked on Madison? I have, and it's pretty freaking scary. A number of cyclists have been hit by cars there, most recently Chris Davidson, who died shortly after. You may have seen the "ghost bikes" on Madison and at the Hi-Tone that mark his death and remind us that the driver never stopped. There was also a ghost bike at the rally.
We are sick and tired of hearing about bicyclists getting injured and killed by cars. Cooper and Madison is a frequent spot for bike/car accidents. A woman was even hit there during the Midnight Classic last year. Businesses owners on Cooper have embraced bike lanes, and Madison is the next logical place for them.
It's time for the city to realize that bikes are the future and it is time to make our roads multi-functional.
Most people had "We love safe streets" signs at the rally, but Warren is especially angry about the hit and run that killed Chris. To him "hit & run = murder."
We don't just need dedicated bike lanes on Madison, we need them everywhere. The Mayor was not at the rally, nor were any city councilmen, despite it being an election year. I guess they just aren't that concerned. There were a couple of city council hopefuls in the crowd. Paul Shaffer (District 9) spoke out in favor of the lanes and Scott Banbury (District 7) gave a passionate speech about the need for Memphis to move forward.
I mostly just listened, but I wanted to scream. I wanted the Mayor to be there. I wanted someone to care.
A few weeks ago, we had a thirteen year old boy get hit by a car a block from our house at the intersection of Sam Cooper & Hollywood. I didn't see the accident, but after he was hit, he got up and walked his bike down our street. He was covered in blood and hysterical. Along with a few others, we calmed him down, called 911 and tried to help him until they arrived. I was the person tasked with calling his mother. It was a pretty awful situation, but Eddie made it through okay, thank goodness. And the driver who hit him eventually came back to the scene.
I don't ever want to have to call someone's mother again to tell her that her child was hit by a car while riding his bike. And I definitely don't want anyone calling me. It should be safe for everyone to ride their bike wherever they want to. Some of my best memories are of riding my bike to school and friends' houses when I was younger.
I want my kids to have those happy memories too.
To learn more, visit madisonbikelanes.com.
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