We need a better Memphis.
The Peabody Place Great Streets project was a bellwether for those with aspirations for a better future in Memphis. About a year ago, ten well respected Memphis organizations contributed $150,000 to make Peabody Place truly Great.
A year later the city, with little public discussion, is paying more than that to dismantle work by local artists, pedestrian safety improvements, and bike lanes. This is an embarrassing lack of respect for the investors, pedestrians, and tourists wanting to experience something more than fast traffic. It also bodes poorly for future Great Streets projects, even those with substantial community support.
We the undersigned are petitioning for Memphis to set a higher standard for itself. We want a Memphis that is attractive to people and investments that are now opting for other cities. We are losing the competition for jobs and employees to other cities, not because of better tax-breaks, but because they are embracing a healthy culture and more vibrant urban environment. They are investing significantly in walkable places, sustainability, and smart infrastructure. They are not simply doubling down on “a back to the basics” approach that reinforces old, expensive, and inefficient systems.
We are also petitioning for the City to strengthen and support the human capital already here. We need to stop spending the vast majority of our infrastructure funding on the most expensive transportation option – roads wide enough to allow everyone to drive alone – and start investing in affordable and efficient options like transit, walking and bicycling. The costs of transportation designed for everyone to drive alone has simply become unaffordable in costs per household, health impacts, and land use.
We are seeking a renewed commitment to:
- Leave current and planned Great Streets projects in place.
- Build bicycle lanes and paths and restore sidewalks that will actually allow Memphians and visitors universal access to their communities at a human scale.
- Build complete streets with traffic calming designs and enforcement for the many drivers currently operating aggressively and with impunity.
We are standing up for these things and join with like minded Memphians to help the City build the Memphis we all need.