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Investing in a More Bikable, Walkable Memphis.

July 6, 2010

Our capital improvement program (CIP) budget will pay for two significant repaving projects—Southern Avenue and Cooper Street—that will include bike lanes this year.  This will add many miles of bike lanes and connect many neighborhoods throughout the core of our city.

Clearly, however, this is only the beginning of a larger effort to make Memphis as green, clean, healthy, and safe as possible.  Improving our bikeabilty and walkability is critical to our environmental, health, and economic development agendas.   To me, this issue is one of equity and livability for all of Memphis.

That is why it is extremely unfortunate that bike lanes were not included in our Engineering Division’s application for some federal stimulus funds required to complete various street repaving projects.  I completely understand the dismay and frustration that our local biking and sustainability communities are feeling right now.

Missed opportunities like this one are precisely why this new Bike/Ped Coordinator position is so crucial.  Memphis clearly needs a full-time employee who is exclusively focused on this issue.  We need a knowledgeable advocate for the biking community who can devote his or her full time and energies to coordinating with the other agencies and divisions of city government, as well as with transportation departments and planning agencies throughout the region, to implement the Memphis Metropolitan Planning Organization’s bike/ped plan.  When I have found the right person to fill this job, he or she will be working for our entire community—from the core city to the suburbs and all points in between.

It should be noted that the Bike/Ped Coordinator position makes use of an unfilled clerk’s position in the Engineering Division and will be co-funded by the MPO.  That means that we are making the most efficient possible use of our existing budget without expanding the size of government, while adding tremendous value to our entire metropolitan area.

The core responsibility of Bicycle/Pedestrian Coordinator, which is being jointly funded by the Memphis Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), is to facilitate the implementation of bicycle and pedestrian projects, programs, and policies.  The Memphis MPO area consists of Shelby County as well as portions of West Tennessee and North Mississippi, and shares cooperative agreements with Eastern Arkansas’ MPO.

The Bike/Ped Coordinator will provide training and education on bicycle and pedestrian planning and design issues to all municipalities within the Memphis MPO jurisdictions, and will coordinate activities within Memphis to ensure integration and partnership with our surrounding communities in the Memphis MPO area.  The Bike/Ped Coordinator will also actively engage and seek partnerships with the state transportation policy organizations in TN and MS, the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) and the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT), as well as the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), non-governmental organizations, and other stakeholders.

The City is seeking applicants who possess at least a Bachelors degree in transportation planning, engineering, public administration, social sciences or a related field, and will strongly favor candidates who offer experience related to bicycling and pedestrian issues, including community advocacy for development of bicycle facilities with interest groups and knowledge of bicycle facilities in other communities.

Interested parties are encouraged to visit http://MemphisTN.gov for more information on qualifications and applying.

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