Turns out Memphis might be on its way to being forward thinking in terms of making this city a more outdoor friendly place to live.
A friend (who recently relocated to San Fran) and I were talking a few weeks ago about the difference in his quality of life since moving and he offered a valid point. For most people, having fun in Memphis involves driving somewhere, potentially paying to get in, and then spending money on a movie, food and/or drink, video games, shopping, etc.
There are some fantastic parks here, but Memphis is just too reliant on cars as necessity instead of creating a more commuter/cyclist/pedestrian-friendly environment. It's tough to utilize alternative forms of transportation and it's tough to find something fun to do outside that doesn't cost to either get to that fun thing or to actually participate in that fun thing.
The zoo here rules, but it's expensive to park, get in, eat, blah blah blah. It may as well be an airport gift shop with animals. The park surrounding the zoo is pretty damn amazing, too, considering its history and all the rallying around it that has happened in the past 40 years. It's in the middle of the city and is probably one of the only places in America that I-40 comes to an end and has to re-start about 5 or 6 miles away.
Shelby Farms has some badge of honor as being the largest greenspace inside a city in all of America or something and has some pretty cool things going for it, namely a great dog-park and a good network of trails for mountain bikers, hikers, runners, horses, etc. But there's NO WAY to get to it without driving. It's basically bordered by highways and interstates though none of the roads surrounding it are classified as such. That's just the nature of the auto-traffic on those roads.
Mike (aforementioned friend) leaves his crib in San Mateo either on foot or on his bicycle and is minutes from beautiful views, parks, outdoor venues for relaxing or exercising, etc. Memphis? Meh, not so much.
Until now, maybe. If you are an outdoor lover, tree-hugger, or enthusiast, and live in Memphis you've probably heard a lot about the rails-to-trails effort for some of the old, out-of-use (as of 2k3) CSX rail line. Looks like there's progress on moving forward to actually making it a multi-use trail. I'm excited for Memphis, I'll be honest.