RTC SpringSummer 2015 Issue_final - page 11

PhilliP Parker/aP images (4)
courtesy shelby farms Park conservancy
land of blues, barbecue…
and bicycling? Not long ago,
such a suggestion among
Memphians would have
brought snickers. Then came
the Shelby Farms Greenline, a
long-shot rail-trail conversion
that changed everything.
kinds, many of whom had grown impa-
tient with official resistance to bike lanes.
A few pedaled alongside Siracusa to the
2008 meeting. One was a guy who stud-
ied city planning at the University of
Memphis. Another was a woman who
braved a cross-town commute daily on
her bicycle.
The feeling en route, Siracusa recalls,
was grim determination.
“I think part of it was like, ‘We’re not
even sure these folks are actually
going to go through with
this,’” says Siracusa. “So
we wanted to show up
and make sure that it
was legit and, of course,
to hold [the city’s] feet
to the fire and ask the
harder questions.”
Siracusa, who is now
president of the nonprofit
advocacy group Bike Walk
Tennessee (
), con-
siders himself an optimist—more of a
relationship builder than an agitator. But
if he was a touch cynical on his way to the
meeting, it was understandable.
Two measly bike lanes.
It was 2008, and they were proposed
to be the first in Memphis, Tenn. Two
lanes—a mile apiece. Not much for a
sprawling city of almost 680,000 people.
But something.
Anthony Siracusa rode his bike—in
auto lanes, of course—through the rush
hour of a July afternoon to a public meet-
ing regarding the promised smidgen of
Siracusa had been a fixture among
local active-transportation advo-
cates since 2002 when, at
age 17, he’d founded the
Revolutions Bicycle Co-op
in the basement of First
Congregational Church.
The initial aim of the
co-op was simply to teach
bike repair and help people
who wanted or needed afford-
able bicycles to build their own
with donated parts and the help of vol-
unteer teachers.
But the shop had become more than
that: It was a magnet for bike lovers and
active-transportation advocates of all
Top left: Leslie
Sylus, Rosie Hunt
and Leslie’s son
Samuel (in stroller)
(Wolf River Bridge);
top right: bicyclist
Andy Cates (Wolf
River Bridge);
bottom left: mother
and daughter
Fayre Crossley and
Chelsey McKinney.
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