Big River Crossing just celebrated its second anniversary in October. Even on a cold November afternoon, you can still catch people using the bridge. For Clark Butcher, owner of Victory Bicycle Studio and Pedaltown Bicycle Company in Memphis, it’s not a surprise.
“You will never, at any point, have a panoramic view of downtown Memphis than from the other side of that bridge,” says Butcher. “You get over there and once you get your first step onto that bridge, it’s incredible.”
When Big River Crossing first opened, there were concerns it may not be popular due to its location. Instead, the bridge has shown how popular accessibility has become in the Bluff City.
“I think what we’ve seen in the two years since it opened is it vastly outperformed even what the optimistic people thought it would do,” says George Abbott, the director of external affairs for the Memphis River Parks Partnership.
Over the past year, more than 200,000 people have visited Big River Crossing, including a 3% increase in cyclists. Abbott says the launch of programs like Explore Bike Share this past May reinforced Big River Crossing’s impact on the cycling community.
“The station on the east side of Big River Crossing is the most active station in the whole network,” says Abbott. “I think it’s really opened up physical recreation, biking in particular, to a much wider audience.”
Big River Crossing is a little bit off the beaten path, but those paths around the bridge are expanding, like the newly opened River Line Trail along the riverfront which now connects the Wolf River Greenway to Big River Crossing. And as long as those paths keep expanding, cyclists like Butcher will keep riding.
“It’s like I’ve been skiing the same mountain for 20 years and a new mountain right next door opened up,” says Butcher.
Big River Crossing opened in October of 2016 and is the longest public pedestrian and bike bridge to cross the Mississippi River.