A New Manassas Street, Safe for Bikes and Pedestrians

by Daniel Ashworth, Jr., PLA, ASLA, AICP

image: Memphis Medical District Collaborative (MMDC) / Memphis Flyer

In an effort to re-balance excess car space for people space, Alta Planning + Design redesigned Manassas Street in Memphis from five to three lanes to make way for separated bike lanes on nearly a mile of the street through the Memphis Medical District.

This was the second phase of the Memphis Medical District Collaborative‘s interim design improvements program for the Medical District, which is adjacent to downtown Memphis. The project provides separation of bicyclists and pedestrians from the travel lanes with parked cars and bike lane buffers containing wheel stops and delineators. The project also included bumpouts with concrete domes and planters to shorten the crossing distances for pedestrians and slow vehicle speeds by narrowing the travel space with the vertical bumpout elements. Cat Peña, a local artist, provided the design and installation for an artistic mid-block crossing between Health Sciences Park and the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center.

The project was designed with the guidance from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)’s Separated Bike Lane Planning and Design Guide and in conjunction with the Memphis City Engineering staff’s advice. The ultimate goals of the project are to encourage active transportation, support the healthy lifestyles goals of the district’s medical institution anchors, and to encourage more mixed-use and multifamily residential development in the district.

If you are interested learning more about the project, I will be presenting on Manassas Street as part of a panel with Susannah Barton of the Memphis Medical District Collaborative and Memphis artist Cat Peña at the 2019 ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture in San Diego. The panel is titled Manassas Street, A Tactical and Artistic Urban Street Transformation in Memphis and will be held on Friday, November 15, 1:30 – 3:00 PM.

The following article by Toby Sells was originally published by the Memphis Flyer on December 5, 2018. Reposted with permission.

Leaders Unveil a New Manassas, Safe for Bikes and Pedestrians

Drive there today, and you’ll find a whole new Manassas.

The Medical-District street between Martin Luther King Jr. and Poplar has been completely changed after it was re-paved by the city in April. The re-imagining and renovation of the street is thanks to the city of Memphis and the Memphis Medical District Collaborative (MMDC).

The new street improvements were formally unveiled in a ceremony Wednesday morning.


The re-paving project shrank the former five-lane street to three “to better accommodate traffic flow from Poplar to MLK Avenues and added dedicated bike lanes to connect existing and future bicycle routes in the city.”

MMDC said the streetscape improvements to Manassas brought:

  • Pedestrian bump-outs and crosswalks to provide additional visual cues to drivers to reduce speeds and watch for pedestrians and reduces crossing time and distance for pedestrians
  • Concrete traffic domes further calm traffic and protect pedestrians
  • Bike lane protections including wheel stops and posts to keep cyclists safe
  • 70 self-watering planters to buffer traffic and beautify the landscape
  • Trash and recycling cans
  • High-visibility crosswalks
  • Artistic crosswalk designed by Cat Peña in partnership with Anthony Lee and Kaleob Elkins

“Our priority was to create a safer street for all users—pedestrians, cyclists, and vehicles—and we’re very proud of the results,” Susannah Barton, MMDC’s quality public spaces manager, said in a statement. “We hope that Manassas will serve as an example for street re-design projects throughout our city and help put Memphis on the map of cities making huge strides in creating great, safe streets.”

Nicholas Oyler, the city’s Bikeway and Pedestrian Program Manager, said Manassas “now boasts some of the most attractive and safest facilities for walking and bicycling of any street in Memphis.”

“What’s more, come spring the bike lanes on Manassas will connect with new bike lanes scheduled for installation on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue, establishing a seamless connection by bike between Downtown, the Medical District, and Midtown.”

Daniel Ashworth, Jr., PLA, ASLA, AICP, is a Senior Associate Landscape Architect and Office Manager in Alta Planning + Design’s Memphis office and Co-Chair of the ASLA Urban Design Professional Practice Network (PPN). He holds degrees in landscape architecture from Mississippi State University (B.L.A.) and the University of Pennsylvania (M.L.A.). He is a certified planner and licensed landscape architect in five states (AL, AR, FL, SC, and TN). Daniel’s 15 years of professional experience include comprehensive and master planning, site design, urban design, planting design, construction documents, and construction observation and administration. When away from work, he enjoys time with family, running and biking in parks and trails, and going to music concerts and festivals.

One thought on “A New Manassas Street, Safe for Bikes and Pedestrians

  1. Eden July 12, 2019 / 12:34 pm

    A stretch of roadway in the Memphis Medical District has undergone a redesign involving a reduction from five to three lanes of traffic. Manassas Street now has separated bike lanes, curb extensions that allow for shortened crosswalks and slower vehicle speeds, and a midblock crossing designed by a local artist.

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