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Survey kicks off bike/pedestrian plan update

Bike lane

Photo source: Flickr.com; some rights reserved by spcbrass.

A lot has changed since the Memphis Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) adopted its current Regional Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan in late 2011. So much so that the agency is already preparing an update of the two-and-one-half-year-old plan, which provides recommendations on projects and programs to increase biking and walking in the four counties and 18 cities and towns that make up the MPO.

A region-wide survey of cyclists, pedestrians, and drivers about how they travel, their knowledge of traffic laws, and their priorities for funding alternative transportation projects is the first step in updating the plan. Anyone interested in taking the survey can go to www.midsouthbikeped.org or can contact the MPO offices at (901) 576-7190 to request paper copies.

The Regional Bicycle and Pedestrian Survey takes about 10 minutes to complete. Respondents who complete the survey are eligible to enter a drawing for a grand prize of $500.

The survey asks residents about what kinds of trips they make by cycling or walking, perceptions of safety and comfort as a pedestrian or bicyclist, and knowledge of local traffic laws and ordinances. The survey also asks how to better inform the public about active transportation projects and how regional planners should prioritize funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects.

In 2012 and 2013, jurisdictions in the Memphis MPO added 40 miles of new bike lanes and greenways. With another 200 miles of these “active transportation” projects slated to be constructed in the next three years, MPO planners have found a need to revisit their plans more frequently to keep up with the progress being made in the region.

Background

“For the last several years, a renewed focus on pedestrian and bicycle travel has invigorated local jurisdictions to make investments that make it easier and safer for local residents to get around without their cars. Since 2010, member jurisdictions have increased the total mileage of bicycle and pedestrian facilities by 18%, which includes a 60% increase in dedicated bicycle facilities,” said Kyle Wagenschutz, bicycle/pedestrian coordinator for the Memphis MPO.

“Across the Mid-South, communities are completing projects that enhance the quality of life for residents and make getting around without a car safer and more convenient,” said Pragati Srivastava, administrator of the Memphis MPO. “Finding out where and how to prioritize funding for these types of projects is exactly why we need broad input and support from communities throughout the region.”

The Regional Bicycle and Pedestrian Survey is being conducted as a part of the Mid-South Regional Travel Survey project, which includes polling transit riders, freight providers, and randomly selected households in the greater Memphis metropolitan area. By determining where, when, and how people travel today, the Memphis MPO and their local and state partners hope to set better transportation policy and more accurately predict long-term transportation needs, looking 20 or more years into the future.

“People who get around under their own power, whether by walking or biking are an important part of the transportation equation,” said Wagenschutz.

The MPO region — which includes Shelby County and portions of Fayette County in Tennessee, as well as DeSoto County and portions of Marshall County in Mississippi — has committed itself to creating a comprehensive multi-modal strategy that includes bicycling, walking, and transit use as integral parts of the transportation infrastructure. The MPO’s vision seeks to take advantage of the benefits that alternative forms of transportation can offer to the region, such as greater mobility, lower transportation costs, safer streets, cleaner air, less traffic congestion, lower healthcare costs, and greater quality of life.

For more information about the household travel survey, visit www.MidSouthTravel.org.
Learn more about the Memphis MPO’s ongoing efforts at memphismpo.org. For the Mid-South Regional Travel Survey, go to Resources > Projects > Travel Survey FAQs. For the Regional Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan, visit Plans > Multimodal Plans > Bike-Ped Plan.

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