Memphis Leaders Reverse Riverside Drive Bike Lanes

By Bill Dries

Riverside Drive between Beale Street and Georgia Avenue will return to four lanes of auto traffic in June, Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. said Wednesday, April 1.

A Memphis police officer bicycles past Beale Street Landing in June, soon after city leaders implemented bike lanes on Riverside Drive. The lanes will return to vehicle traffic in June after a yearlong trial.

(Daily News File/Andrew J. Breig)

But Wharton said the end of the yearlong trial period, which shifted the two southbound lanes to bicycle and pedestrian use, isn’t the end of some form of bike lanes on the scenic route.

“There will be bike lanes,” Wharton said earlier in the day before the announcement was made, when asked about a decision. “What we want to do is make sure we have the best configuration, the best alignment possible considering everybody’s views. We are not going to abandon bike lanes.”

Wharton also cited “no measurable shift of vehicle traffic to alternate routes” during the trial period.

“Travel speeds were reduced inconsistently, and the number of crashes was up over the year prior,” he added.

City Engineer John Cameron said at a public hearing in March that the city is considering a reconfiguration that would restore one lane of auto traffic on each side of Riverside’s median strip, with bike and pedestrian lanes taking the curb lanes.

“Once Riverside Drive has been completely repaved in 2016, we will again review the traffic patterns, the impact of major new developments and gather public input to determine the best permanent complete street configuration to accommodate all users – pedestrians, cyclists and motorists – safely and comfortably,” Cameron said in Wednesday’s written statement announcing the change.