By Emily Bishop
The city plans to repave Cooper Street in spring 2011 and hopefully the repaving will include bike lanes and redesigning Cooper Street to make it safer. There are two plans being discussed, one from the CY Business Association and one from Revolutions Bike Shop. The CYCA wants to hear from residents and visitors about the redesign of Cooper Street and where the bike lanes should go.
The CY Business Association has been working on a plan to redesign Cooper Street for a couple of years. In the CY Business Association plan, Cooper Street would be reduced to one lane of traffic in each direction with a designated turn lane in the middle. Bike lanes would be on both sides of the street from Central to Young Avenue. The stretch of Cooper Street from Young to Southern would have no bike lanes but would only have “Share the Road” signs, and parking would remain on both sides of the street.
A new plan by Revolutions Bike Shop was presented to CY business leaders at a meeting on August 9 at Tsunami. The purpose of the meeting was to present new information about a safer design option for bike lanes and to come to a consensus on a recommendation to the city for when it repaves Cooper Street.
The Revolutions plan also reduces the traffic lanes on Cooper Street to one lane in each direction with a designated turn lane from Central to Young Avenue. The location of the bike lane on this stretch is the big difference. Instead of being next to the moving traffic, the bike lanes would be next to the sidewalk with the row of parallel-parked cars protecting it from the moving traffic. This model of “protected” bike lanes has not been done before in Memphis but it has been successful in other cities. The bicyclist will still have to be careful of opening passenger doors but they will be safe from driver doors and moving traffic.
Charlie Ryan with the CY Business Association stated that “while the business association is pro both pedestrian, parking, and bicycles, we are still far apart …” Ryan does not see room for a compromise and added, “We need to come to an understanding that we just don’t agree.” The reason Ryan gives for not wanting the protected bike lanes is that he doesn’t want drivers who park on the street to have to open their doors next to the lane of traffic. Currently, parked cars do just that.
The new plan from Revolutions also includes protected bike lanes on both sides of the street on Cooper from Young to Southern. The four parking spaces on the west side of Cooper in front of the upholstery shop would be removed. All of the parking on the east side of Cooper in front of First Congregational Church would remain.
Street parking is important to both business owners and residents. Businesses want their customers to be able to safely park close to their businesses. Residents want the businesses to thrive but also want to minimize the traffic, trash, and temptation to would-be criminals that parking in front of their homes invites. The loss of four spaces on Cooper Street would allow bike lanes to continue from Young to Southern.
The CY Business Association has stated their opposition to any loss of on street parking to bike lanes. Individual business owners have voiced their support for the new plan. In an email to the Mayor’s office, Tiger Bryant, owner of the Young Avenue Deli and Soul Fish wrote, “While maintaining as much on street parking is of great importance to me, the safety of my customers and the community at large are equally important. I support the bike lanes being put as far away from traffic as possible, which lends me to supporting putting them between the parked cars and curbs NOT running along traffic.”
The CYCA would very much like to hear from you about this important issue. Please go to
cooperyoung.org and click on the post about the bike lanes and then the link to the discussion forum. You can mail your comments to The Cooper-Young Community Association, 2298 Young Avenue, Memphis, TN 38104. You can also send your comments to the Mayor directly at Mayor@memphistn.gov or to his assistant, Kerry Hayes, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editors note: Articles about the bike lanes are available in the June, July, and August LampLighter. They can be found online at lamplighter.cooperyoung.org.
By Emily Bishop