In many ways, the recently opened Shelby Farms Greenline is a linear extension of the city's largest park to downtown Memphis, Tenn. But the rail-trail stops just short of Overton Park, which contains, among other attractions, the Memphis Zoo and the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. What's standing in the way? Broad Avenue, an east-west connection that has seen better days.
To complete the missing link, Broad Avenue was transformed, at least temporarily, into a complete street featuring bike lanes, art-inspired crosswalks painted by local schoolchildren, and temporary businesses that set up shop for the weekend. It's part of an effort, called "A New Face for an Old Broad," to show the community what Broad Avenue could be while making the connection between the trailhead and Overton Park.
"This is a critical link ... The Greenline is the catalyst to turn around attitudes toward the city of Memphis, Tennessee," says event sponsor Charles McVean. Kyle Wagenschutz, bike and pedestrian coordinator for the city of Memphis, agrees. "Much like the Greenline gave Memphians a tangible example of off-road spaces that are safe places for biking and walking," he says, "the redesign of Broad Avenue will be a physical representation of how city streets can be designed as safe places for bicycle riders and pedestrians." Plans are already taking shape in an effort to make permanent improvements to Broad Avenue.
It's an inspiring story of extending a pathway beyond the trail corridor to foster business development, physical activity and community spirit at once. Be sure to watch the video report embedded above from WMC-TV.
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