Mid-Week Interlude

I’m actually working at my office today – those of you who are not academics apparently have to do this every day, correct? That blows my mind … – and since my P.O.S. desktop decided to be barely functional today, thus greatly limiting my ability to actually work on my research, I thought I’d knock out a blog post.

First, I have good news about the cyclist who was hit by a car over the weekend.  Apparently she’s fine, other than some bumps and bruises.  I’m really glad to read that she was wearing a helmet at the time she was hit.  I think the longest I’ve ever biked without wearing my helmet is about three blocks, when I biked home from Victory Bicycle Studios after picking up my bike (I had forgotten to bring my helmet).  It always bugs me when I see people biking without helmets.

Anyway, perhaps not surprisingly, some local cyclists are using the accident as a example of why we need more bike lanes around town.  While I support bike lanes on every street all over town 100%, I don’t think that bike lanes would have helped here.  It looks like the main causes of the accident were driver inebriation – he apparently blew a B.A.C. of 0.155, almost twice the legal limit – and the time of day.  She could have been riding in a bike lane or in the middle of the road, but if it’s late and the driver is hammered, it’s really not going to matter too much.  But yes, we need more bike lanes anyway.  Especially on Madison.  Ahem.

Speaking of bike lanes on Madison Avenue, here’s an editorial from last week’s Flyer about that very topic, written by Eric Vernon, the owner of the Bar-B-Q Shop.  While I agree with many of Mr. Vernon’s statements, particularly that the city could have done a better job informing the business owners about the proposed changes to the street at the outset, it’s hard for me to swallow this:

The reality is that nobody representing Madison Avenue business interests has expressed absolute opposition to the concept of bike lanes.

I mean, maybe that’s not an inaccurate claim because he so carefully chose his words.  “Absolute opposition”?  Maybe, maybe not.  But people who are not at least very opposed to something don’t participate in letter-writing campaigns to local officials to that end.  Especially letter-writing campaigns that are laced with inaccuracies.  I do recall from the meeting back in February that Mr. Vernon seemed like a reasonable guy, so maybe I’m inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt on some of his points.  But I find his allegation that “bicyclist and pedestrian groups have been kept informed about plans for bike lanes since 2009 … ” really hard to believe.

I also don’t think the portrayal of the controversy about the bike lanes to be the media’s fault.  (It’s a common response, it seems, to blame the media when statements made by you or your allies incite the very reaction a reasonable person could have guessed they would.)  I have no doubt that the businesses on Madison have in fact “spent decades developing long-lasting relationships with families in Midtown.”  But Mr. Vernon fails to describe what about the reporting was inaccurate.  Frankly, I can’t recall a single public statement issued by the concerned businesses on Madison where bike lanes were ever presented as a reasonable alternative.  It’s always been shared lanes, i.e. the status quo.  If I’m wrong here, please correct me in the comments.

In other local cycling news, this letter appeared on the CA’s website this week.  It’s loaded with common misconceptions: cyclists don’t obey the law, cyclists don’t pay for roads.  The fact of the matter is that, yes, cyclists do obey the law (at least, as much as drivers do) and we do pay for the roads, via state and local sales and property taxes.  Just because we don’t pay gas taxes … oh wait, we do, because almost every cyclist I know also has a car.  And drives it.

Meanwhile, here’s a much nicer letter explaining why we need bike lanes in Memphis.

I’ve discovered a couple of new biking blogs you should check out.  The first is Bike Fancy, which is mostly a photo blog of stylist people on bikes.  The second is Bike Commuters, which appears to be a catch-all site for (duh) bike commuters.  I’ll be digging into each this week.

Also, it’s time to vote for the Best of Memphis over at the Flyer.  You can do so here.  I’ve already cast my vote for best local bike shop (top secret!) and favorite local blog (same!).  This blog is not listed in the blog category, and I’m not saying you should write it in and vote for it, but you certainly can.  Just sayin’.

Alright people, that’s all I have for now.  See you all soon.

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