Weekend Wrap-Up

Hi everyone.  It’s been yet another busy week here at Biking in Memphis.  My summer semester ended on Friday, a week earlier than the rest of the university, as I’ve been teaching an economics course at the Governor’s School for International Studies.  GSIS is one of the dozen or so Governor’s School programs across the state and, in my opinion, is the best.  Some of you might have attended a GS when you were in high school; if so, you know how much fun they are.  I count myself as very lucky that I’m able to teach there every summer.  My students this year were exceptionally smart and funny.  (CORN!!!)

OK.  Onto the weekend wrap-up.  I’ve already written about the meeting last week about Madison Avenue.  Here’s an article about the same from the Memphis Business Journal and, hot off the presses, an editorial from the CA in support of bike lanes and other improvements.  I’m really excited for the second of the three meetings this week on Wednesday, 6 July, at 5:30 PM at Minglewood Hall.  Don’t forget to complete this survey about the future of Madison Avenue.

To get an idea of what bike and pedestrian lanes can mean to a city – one in Tennessee no less – have a look at this picture of Chattanooga’s amazing river walk.  I really hope that planners in Memphis use this as inspiration for what our river front can look like.

I heard that the inaugural Cycle Memphis group ride was very well attended – apparently over 60 cyclists rode from Cooper Young to downtown and back.  Here’s a map of the route they followed.  I had really wanted to attend the ride, but given the fact that I’ve been at work late several times over the past few weeks (for the aforementioned GSIS) and that my six-year-old niece is visiting from Atlanta, I decided that having some family time at home was more important.  But next month I will most definitely be there.

I’ve long suspected that cycling is not any slower than driving, especially over relatively short distances or in urban traffic, and can even be faster in some circumstances, and this article about Congressman Earl Blumenauer lends some credence to that conclusion.  Of course, an sample size of one does not make for good predictions – the article really should not have claimed that Mr. Blumenauer’s experiment proved anything; it does however strongly suggest that cycling can be faster than driving – but my 3.25-mile commute to campus takes about 15 minutes by bike and about 10 minutes in a car (not accounting for time spent driving around my parking deck looking for a parking space), further suggesting that cycling car be just as fast as driving.  I’ve also noticed when driving around town that cyclists riding along with traffic keep pace with cars for surprising.  Also, the Portland NPR affiliate replicated Mr. Blumenauer’s experiment and – drumroll please – bikes won.  At least one participating cyclist was not surprised.

This does make me wonder about the expected trip length over which cycling is as fast or faster than driving.  Is it one mile?  Two?  Are we talking about point-to-point travel, or would this include time spent looking for parking?  If one included that, I imagine that the maximum trip length could be quite a bit longer than expected.

Whatever the case, it looks like bike commuting is becoming more popular and that middle-aged men are leading the way.  Hooray for my demographic!

Not surprisingly, as more bikes are on the road, we’re seeing more conflicts between cyclists and drivers.  My hope is that these episodes are evidence of a maturing cycling movement and that they’ll soon level off if not decrease.  Better education for drivers, cyclists, and police officers can only help.

Hey, need an inexpensive bike trailer?  Have a look at this kludge.

It looks like building bike infrastructure actually creates more jobs per dollar spent than mixed-use or car-only projects.  Have a look at this article for more discussion.

Need something to read at the beach this summer?  Here’s some recommendations from Bike Portland.  I’ve just started reading The Lost Cyclist and I’m really enjoying it so far.  Or, you could always grab some Ludwig Von Mises like Rep. Michelle Bachman claims to do.

[pause for loud, snorting, derisive laughter]

Anyway, have a good week biking, Memphians.  Since I’m off work this week, I’m probably going to hit the Greenline at least once.  Hope to see you there.

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