The Overton Park Conservancy conducted a subplanning demonstration project to cover recommendations for improved bike/pedestrian access into and within Overton Park. Such improvements are long overdue for the most prominent park in the city park system. These improvements are also driven by the inconsistent condition of bike/pedestrian facilities in the park vicinity, and strong community interest in this project. The Bike/Pedestrian Access Study is also well timed with proposed City of Memphis improvements in the public right-of-way along the park perimeter and beyond. These include bicycle lanes on Cooper Street which will create an important new park entrance at Cooper and Poplar Avenue.
In recent decades, the absence of a safe path along the perimeter of Overton Park has been an increasing concern. Since the park’s founding in 1901, modes of travel have changed from
carriage and trolley to automobile, resulting in high-speed vehicular traffic along the north, east, and south edges of the park. It is dangerous and uncomfortable for pedestrians walking along the park perimeter, on their way to the park or other destinations including nearby schools. It is also difficult for bicyclists from the north, east and south to cross North Parkway, East Parkway, and Poplar Avenue and enter the park.
The Bike/Pedestrian Access Study includes preliminary plans and construction budgets for various improvements along the park perimeter and interior. The Study included extensive community engagement, resulting in considerable interest and enthusiasm for many of the recommended improvements, though a consensus was not reached on all improvements.
The Overton Park Access Study addressed preliminary design concepts for specific locations, including:
- Perimeter Park Trail
- Poplar Avenue / Tucker Street (Morrie Moss Lane) Entry
- Poplar Avenue / Cooper Street Entry
- Poplar Avenue / East Parkway Entry
- East Parkway / North Parkway Entry
- North Parkway / Rhodes College Entry
- Greensward Loop Trail
- Other Improvements: a) Lick Creek or Cooper Street Connector to Overton Square, b) ADA Improvements at Internal Park Walkways, c) Connector Trail Opposite Edgewood, d) McLean Boulevard Pedestrian Crossings