5 Ideas to Make Memphis…Better: Number 3

Beale Foot Traffic

Develop More Pedestrian Traffic in Downtown Memphis

Check out Idea Number 1

Check out Idea Number 2

Idea Number 3

The Problem

Idea Number 3 has less to do with the development of a business for an individual and more to do with the development of tourism in Downtown Memphis. Right now if you look at the picture of the map above you will see two red lines (they might look orange, but they’re red). These lines are the extent of Memphis’ focus on tourism.

On one night a month there is Trolley Night. Trolley Night is primarily a South Main (the long blue line) event where the stores stay open later than usual, serve drinks and feature art and music. I haven’t seen a single Trolley Night that hasn’t been successful. The reason is simple, the space is lot more open than it is on Beale Street (the red lines). On Beale there have been an abundance of issues with fights and other situations. This simply doesn’t happen on Trolley Night. Why?

The Reason for the “Problems”

Look at the map. The red line is blocked off so cars can’t drive down the street. All of the people visiting Beale Street are literally confined to two blocks. I lived in San Diego for years and in L.A. for a while. I’ve visited cities like New Orleans, Washington D.C., Nashville, Orlando and the list goes on and on. I bring this up for one reason: the only city that “blocks” off streets is Washington D. C. The reason for that is clear. These other locations have an understanding that driving down streets that are set up for pedestrian traffic can lead to people being stuck in traffic for hours. So people don’t drive down streets packed with people. More important instead of posting the police officers at the end of the street and turning them into club security guards checking IDs, the police officers are mobile. They can instruct people not to turn down high pedestrian streets and more important they can enforce Open Container Laws and issue tickets for disorderly conduct (generating revenue for the city). I’m getting ahead of myself. This is the reason for the problem, confine 10000 people into a 1-2 block radius and people will fight.

Trolley Night = No Fights/Drama = Over 10 blocks

Beale Street = Disorderly Conduct/Fights/Hella Drama = 2 blocks

A Solution

Amend the Open Container Law for Downtown Memphis.  The lines on Main can be pushed even farther because there are great restaurants past Union up to Madison. The Open Container Law should apply to Beale Street, South Main, Main Street and Riverside Drive. This means that as long as people are on these three streets they can carry an open container. On these streets the city should commission artists to create music themed receptacles for recycling (recycling generates revenue and jobs for the city). Also along these three streets alcohol sales will be handled by satellite stations set up by the restaurants near these locations (additional income for restaurants and tax revenue). If people throw bottles on the ground, ticket them (revenue). If they are caught urinating in public, ticket them (revenue), but whatever Memphis does it needs to funnel traffic along the blue lines and no longer require police officers to be security guards at the the ends of the red section. I’m not saying remove the barriers completely. The barrier in this problem is the Open Container Law which confines those who drink to a two block radius with other drunkards.

There is another part of this equation that deals with Idea Number 4 so I can’t go into great detail, but the Downtown Commission or some tech savvy person needs to create a Music in Memphis app that collects event information in one place and coordinates with venues to allow people to pay for a speed pass to enter each location (This needs to be fleshed out of course). As I said though this goes into Idea Number 4 so I won’t get too involved. The reason I bring this up is because there should be a minimum of 50 downtown venues featuring music from Main, to Beale to Riverside on the weekends. This will inspire more pedestrian traffic and more movement. Restaurants featuring music can have an account with the app and share information. When people pay the App creator can funnel 2% of the sales generating revenue (yeah this needs work, but I just throw the ideas out there).

What do you think? Leave a comment below.