MEMPHIS — John Jordan, a 64-year-old condo appraiser here, has been pedaling his cruiser bicycle around town nearly every day, tooling about at lunchtime or zipping to downtown appointments.
“It’s my cholesterol-lowering device,” said Mr. Jordan, clad in a leather vest and wearing a bright white beard. “The problem is, the city needs to educate motorists to not run over” the bicyclists.
Bike-friendly behavior has never come naturally to Memphis, which has long been among the country’s most perilous places for cyclists. In recent years, though, riders have taken to the streets like never before, spurred by a mayor who has worked to change the way residents think about commuting.
Mayor A. C. Wharton Jr., elected in 2009, assumed office a year after Bicycling magazine named Memphis one of the worst cities in America for cyclists, not the first time the city had received such a biking dishonor. But Mr. Wharton spied an opportunity.