Category: Commuting

Happy news

I already posted this on this blog’s Facebook page, but I thought I’d write about it here in greater detail.  I’ve been biking a fair amount lately, now that my work schedule has returned to something resembling normalcy.  The weather has been great recently, a few days of rain notwithstanding, and I thoroughly love the autumn temperatures, whether I’m on my bike or not.  Anyway, today I biked from home to campus in the morning and back again in the afternoon with no incidents.  Traffic was light, and the weather was perfect.

This evening I had a meeting to attend at Grace St. Luke’s Church, so I left home around 5:40 PM and began my bike ride.  As I was biking west on Young Avenue, I was approaching a parked car in the far right lane, where I was biking.  At the same time, a car was approaching from the rear on my left hand side.  As I neared the parked car and the passing car approached me, I wondered if I would have time to pass the parked car before I myself was passed.  I probably wouldn’t have had time to do so, but it didn’t matter, because the passing car slowed just as I was approaching the parked car, allowing me to safely pass it and return to the far right lane.  I was pleasantly surprised and waved my thanks.

And then, it happened again, on Belvedere, as I was heading north to GSL.  I was approaching a parked car when a car, soon to pass me, slowed and allowed me to safely pass the parked car.  I know we’ve all had close calls in traffic, whether it be while passing a car or being passed, and we’ve all had a driver or two extend the hand of courtesy.  But twice in one day?  This is unprecedented, my people, and quite welcome.  Are Memphis drivers becoming used to cyclists and learning to share the road?  Let’s all hope so.

Speaking of good news, hopefully you’ve heard about the Hampline.  It’s a two mile, on-road, multi-use trail that will connect the Shelby Farms Greenline to Overton Park.  Making this connection safe and protected for cyclists and other travelers will do a lot to strengthen the routes between east Memphis and the ‘burbs to Midtown, Downtown, and other points west.  The Hampline is partially crowd-funded, so you have an opportunity to support this unique project with your resources.  The goal is to raise $75,000, of which around $12,500 has been raised so far.  I will definitely kick in some cheddar to support this crucial and innovative improvement in our cycling infrastructure, and I hope you will too.  Special thanks to the Hightailers for matching contributions earlier in the campaign.

Also, the good people at the Peddler Bike Shop are sponsoring a Traffic Skills 101 class on Saturday, November 2.  It’s geared (pun intended) for new or potential cyclists.  The class costs $50 and is limited to 10 people, so register now!

Lastly, this has very little to do with cycling per se, but it sounds really cool, so I thought I’d share.  It’s called the “I Wish You Well” Wall, and it’s happening tomorrow at Overton Square.  The idea is that people will write a message of encouragement or something like that and leave it on the wall next to Bar Louie.  (See the event page for more information.)  I’m not usually one for public displays of positivity – perhaps it’s because I’m an economist, or because of my Scottish heritage – but this event sounds like something Memphis could use.  I’m going to visit and contribute my note, biking-related no doubt.

OK, that’s all for now.  Thanks for reading and as always, I’ll see you out there, biking in Memphis

Close call …

I was biking from home to Brother Juniper’s this morning to have lunch with a friend.  I had previously biked to Empire Hair Studio for a much-needed shearing, so my legs were good and warmed up, despite the chilly temperatures today.  It was a good ride east on Southern Avenue, and I rested for a moment at the intersection of Southern and Highland, waiting for the light to turn green.  As it did, I pedaled through the intersection, heading north on Highland for one block to then turn right on Walker St.

Just as I was turning right, an SUV decided to turn left onto Walker out of the Domino’s Pizza parking lot.  Apparently the driver didn’t see me, or just decided to ignore me.  As we both attempted to enter Walker at the same time, I had to slam on the brakes.  (The driver of the SUV made no similar attempt at stopping.)  My rear wheel slid out to the left as I went into a skid.  Fortunately, I managed to get my right foot on the ground before I tipped over.  After a couple of awkward hop-steps, I stopped, upright, slightly shaken, but none the worse for wear.

This was my first true close call since I started biking almost five years ago.  In and of itself, that’s pretty miraculous.  I’ve heard some harrowing stories of life on the road from cyclists and non-cyclists alike.  I do tend to be fairly defensive when I ride, stopping at traffic signals, not cutting between lanes full of cars, and so on.  But all the courtesy and mindfulness will only get you so far.  All it takes is one careless driver and you are on the ground.

I will note that I signaled my turn onto Walker for a good 3-5 seconds before I turned, pretty much the entire length of Highland north of Southern.  Apparently my extended right arm was unnoticed or ignored.  I don’t know.  I’m just glad I was able to stop in time, and that the SUV driver didn’t decide to take the lane a few seconds after I did.  That could have been ugly.

As it happened, Cort from The Peddler and Fix Memphis was walking west on Walker – say that five times fast – just as I nearly ate asphalt.  So at least I got to impress a fellow cyclist with my mad skidding skills.

So that’s my first close call story.  Please share yours in the comments.  I’d love to read them.  Also, be safe out there, and beware of SUVs bearing pizza.  (Seriously, did it have to be an SUV?  Did I really need another reason to not trust them?)


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