Fullilove Calls Madison Bike Lanes 'Disaster'

By Bill Dries

Add Memphis City Council member Janis Fullilove to the list of those opposed to dedicated bicycle lanes on Madison Avenue between Cleveland and Cooper streets.

“This is a disaster waiting to happen,” Fullilove said as business owners opposed to the proposal rallied their forces in an issue that is again reaching political critical mass.

Fullilove spoke at Brinson Tax Service, a year-old business at Madison and McLean Boulevard, whose owner, Selma Brinson, is also opposed to the option.

From the front door of Brinson’s business, however, you can see and wave at other business owners along Madison who favor the bicycle lane that would take auto traffic on Madison down from two full lanes each direction to one each direction.

“Most of the people I see riding (bikes) aren’t customers. They are just riding through,” Brinson said. “I want people to be able to get here.”

Fino’s and the Gilmore Apartments are among the businesses who back the bike lanes and who have joined a recent Facebook effort to mobilize supporters.

Fullilove and Brinson said they favor shared bicycle/auto lanes that would have better markings with more signage than currently exists on Madison.

Fullilove said a separate bicycle lane would be “irresponsible” and would destroy businesses, especially small businesses owned by minorities and women.

“I’m not against bikes, but I’m against closing businesses,” she said.

Asked to explain the different views from one business owner to another, Fullilove said, “This should be shared. It should be what’s best for all.”

Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. still has not made a decision on how city public works crews will restripe Madison Avenue once it is repaved. He had said the city had to make a decision by the end of July or risk losing federal funding for the project. But administration spokesmen said earlier this month that Wharton wanted one more meeting with all sides in the dispute.