Category: Infrastructure

The Bike Lanes on Madison

My people.  By now you are likely aware that, yes, bike lanes are being installed on Madison Avenue.  In fact, you might have noticed that the bike lanes have already been striped and that, absent a few additional signs and markings, the issue is pretty much done.  You might have participated in the numerous facebook events centered around celebrating these new lanes.  You might have watched the absurd waste of time that was the City Council’s discussion of the impact of the bike lanes.  You might even have attended one or more of those meetings.  Major kudos to you if you did – it was especially awesome watching the video of all of the bike lane supporters in the smaller public-works committee meeting.  I very much wanted to, but due to my work load at the time, I was unable to.  So I watched the meetings from my office at home, hunched over a stack of exams needing to be graded, no doubt.

So, now that our city has achieved a huge victory and step forward – and there are many people who deserve credit and thanks for helping to make this happen – I’d like to share a few thoughts with you about the bike lanes, and where we go from here.

1. The first test of having bike lanes approved on a major commercial corridor in Memphis is over … for now.

By the end of the discussion at the full City Council meeting about the bike lanes, where Mike Cooper (from Mercury Valet Cleaners) and a couple of other anti-lane advocates spoke (plus quite a few wonderful pro-lane people), I could hear the tiredness in his voice.  Clearly, he was sick of talking about this issue, a sentiment shared by many, including me.  He even hoped that the issue would not permanently divide the city; many others share that hope too.  Indeed, the only person who seemed to be fired up about the issue was Councilwoman Fullilove, who is to be commended for caring so much about businesses in parts of town outside of her district.

What concerns me is the open-ended promise that the city would look into the revenues earned by businesses on Madison in a year’s time or so, to see if the the lanes were having an adverse effect on those businesses.  It’s probably no big deal; once everybody sees that the lanes did not have a measurably negative impact on Madison, we’ll all move on.  Except that the U.S. economy is hardly chugging along right now, and with the situation in Europe deteriorating rapidly, we face the very real possibility of a second recession in the near future.  I’m hoping that a European financial crisis can be avoided, but if not, both the real and financial sectors in our economy will be hit.  How hard remains to be seen, but Memphis will certainly not escape the damage.

So here’s the situation that worries me: Europe implodes, creating a wave of financial sector panic and the accompanying restrictions in lending.  The U.S. economy follows Europe’s down the water slide, only this time there is less appetite for stimulus and, at least from a fiscal perspective, if not monetary as well, less ability to employ it.  Businesses on Madison begin to suffer; some close.  And guess what … some tool bag blames the bike lanes.

Most likely this would happen in the comments section of a CA article, but if Fullilove and her minions got a hold of it, it could grow legs, at least in terms of the discussion about where else to install the lanes.  I think the likelihood of there being any significant fall-out is pretty low; there will by then be other roads with bike lanes, and certainly businesses outside of Madison would be affected if we entered another recession, throwing doubt on any claim that the bike lanes themselves were the problem.

But we’ve already seen this lack of understanding of the difference between correlation and causation.  The day of the debacle in Council chambers, Fullilove mentioned repeatedly that some business on Madison had already experienced a significant drop in revenue … and the bike lanes weren’t even installed yet! Unbelievable.  Repaving does tend to disrupt traffic, you know.

2.  The process of integrating bike lanes on a major commercial corridor is by no means over.  In fact, it is just beginning.

As I mentioned above, the lanes on Madison are not 100% complete yet.  On-street cyclist icons are sorely needed, intersections need crosswalks, signs, and so on.  Just this past weekend my wife and I drove (I know … I know) up to Boscos for brunch.  As we were walking down the sidewalk along the north side of Madison, we could see numerous cars, trucks, and SUVs heading west on Madison without a clue about what was a bike lane and what wasn’t.  (In fact, I was a little confused myself.  I didn’t think we were getting bike lanes on that stretch of Madison, but I’m certainly not going to complain about them being there.)  I know that many of these issues will go away when the street is appropriately marked and signed and all that, but I also suspect that the drivers who frequent Madison Avenue will need a bit more time to adjust to the (hopefully) frequent cyclists they encounter.  It makes me want to bike Madison once or twice a day just to move along the acclimation process.

What we also need is effective enforcement of existing regulations governing bike lanes.  I bike to campus nearly every day on Southern, and hardly a week goes by when I don’t see some vehicular violation of the bike lanes.  Cars and trucks – often municipal vehicles – parked in bike lanes; drivers using bike lanes as turning or passing lanes; to say nothing of the sheer amount of gravel and detritus that accumulates along the side of the road, though that’s not a violation per se.  We need to have MPD officers trained on what sort of driver behaviors constitute violations of laws surrounding bike lanes.  I still remember, not long after the bike lanes were striped on Southern, I was biking home from school when I encountered a car parked in the bike lane not one block from my house.  Perhaps because I was new to the lanes, I called the police when I got home to report the violation.  The officer I spoke to did not even know that there was a violation.  Fortunately I was able to cite the number of the local ordinance that rendered parking in a bike lane illegal, but I still see people doing it nearly every week.

Look, I know that out local police have more pressing matters than monitoring bike lanes for vehicles, but if local drivers are going to understand what is and is not acceptable behavior in regard to the bike lanes, we need the police to write a few tickets.  Visible signs and cyclist persistence will also help.

UPDATE: Apparently the police are stopping people for driving in the bike lanes on Madison!  (h/t Ty)

3.  Memphis is taking the first steps toward becoming a truly bike-friendly town, and we have many more to take.

In the past year or so our city has added something like 30 miles of bike lanes, and we are due for many more than that.  Compared to the total miles of lanes in Memphis, that’s a relatively small number, but I’m not even worried about that.  I’m just so excited about the lanes we have – knowing that more are on the way is like Christmas every day.

And I hear that the future waves of lanes will be installed with an eye toward connecting the existing lanes and creating a network of lanes, from what is now a somewhat discontinuous collection of lanes.  To be sure, we should celebrate this collection, because they are the best evidence of our evolution to a truly bike-friendly town.  As more lanes are installed, it will become ever easier for cyclists to navigate from home to school, school to work, and neighborhood to neighborhood.  This is what I am most excited about.

In the past month, I’ve visited two other cities which are further along in their evolution toward being truly bike-friendly: Chicago and Washington, D.C.  (In fact, I’m finishing this blog in DC.)  Washington has a very popular bike-sharing program – more on that later – and both cities have extensive bike lanes, at least in the neighborhoods I frequented.  I am very excited about Memphis adding additional facilities and becoming just as bike friendly, if not more, than these two cities.

So what else do we need?  Here’s a short list:

  • More bike lanes.  Those are coming soon.
  • A city-wide bike rental program.  I hear good things on this front.  More to come.
  • Bike rental programs at local colleges and universities.  Rhodes has one, CBU I’m not sure, and U of M … optimistic.
  • More bike polo players, more fixie enthusiasts, more distance riders, more casual/comfort riders, and more bike commuters.  More of everyone and everything.  The more diverse our scene becomes, the more mature the community is.  Hell, let’s have even more tall bikes.  And, more Cycle Memphis group rides.  I look forward to them every month.
  • More enforcement and education about biking and cyclist safety.  This goes for drivers and cyclists alike.
  • The occasional street-sweeping of the bike lanes.  I know, I know – many needs, few resources, but few things suck worse than wet leaves.
  • More bike bloggers!  I have great respect for the good people at Living Loud in Midtown, Fix Memphis, and Gotta be Gritty, but there are dozens of cyclists with hundreds of stories that are not now being told.  Keep in mind that I’ve been writing this blog for less than one year.  What stories do you have?  I’d love to read them.

 

 

 

 

Weekend wrap-up

People.  I have good news (and bad) for the Memphis biking community: the Shelby Farms Greenline will be receiving $3.3 million to be extended east to Cordova.  This is awesome.  I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been to Cordova in the five years I’ve lived in Memphis.  With this new cycling path, perhaps my visits out east will become more frequent.

But here’s the bad news: $1.1 million for a bike-lane project on Broad Avenue was declined.  I don’t know what this means for extending the Greenline west to Midtown – whether or not other sources of funds for this project have been identified – but it’s a drag to have this initiative not receive funding.

Have you registered for the Bluff City Blues 100?  I haven’t, but only because I’ll be out of town that day.  Get on that ride and support a good cause.

I’m not so crazy about e-bikes – I like an unassisted ride – but if I were to buy one, this might just be the one.

…..

Dear Santa,

I promise I’ve been a good boy this year.  I ate all my vegetables and made my bed every day.  Now just bring me some MonkeyLectric Lights and there won’t be any problems, fat man. Capiche?  Because I’ve got a u-lock with your name on it otherwise.

Love,

Doug

…..

A bicycle mecca?  Yes, please.  Also, I did not realize that Anthony Siracusa rode across the entire freakin’ US of A when he was only 16.  FTW, Anthony.

Don’t forget that funding for cycling projects is never guaranteed.  It’s a shame that we have to fight for these dollars.  Don’t hesitate to contact your local Congressional representative.

Drivers, be nice out there.

So, what is the difference between cyclists and drivers?  At least in my state we have equal rights to the roads?  Is there any reason to classify us differently?  I think not.

Big thanks to Cort and Ty for helping me promote Bike to Campus Day.  I hope to see you all there.  Let’s all show that Memphis is a cycling-friendly and active town.

September Cyclist of the Month: Joe Wieronski

Everyone, please say hello to the September Cyclist of the Month, Joe Wieronski.  Joe is an architect with Askew Nixon Ferguson and a bike commuter in Memphis.

Joe wieronski with bike

I sent Joe a list of questions about his experiences as a cyclist in Memphis; here’s what he had to say.

1.  Let’s start at the beginning.  I understand that you bike to work?  How long have you been doing that?

I do bike to work when I can; if I have meetings outside the office, I drive my hybrid.  I’ve been biking to work for a few years now.

2.  What were the main concerns or fears you had when you first started cycling?

Falling off when I was a kid; later riding on the road with cars.

How has your actual experience on the road compared to your expectations of what it would be like?

Pretty good, no major problems except when I wasn’t paying attention and ran over a biker who fell off their bike.  I love biking on the road, you experience so much more than driving in a car.

3.  How long is your commute to work?

Very short, it’s just a mile and a half.

What route do you follow?

I follow the back roads through neighborhoods with lots of trees.  That makes it much cooler in the hot summer.

Do you cross or ride on any roads that are particularly well suited for cycling?

I don’t hit the Greenline on my way to work but neighborhood roads are great for cycling.

Any that are not so well suited?

Poplar is not, but I only have to cross it, not travel along it.

4.  On a scale of one to ten, how awesome is the Shelby Farms Greenline?

10+.  Everyone should take advantage of this great amenity we have in our city, we are very lucky.

5.  If you could identify any single road where you would like to see bike lanes installed, which one would it be?

Complete the Greenline to downtown and Madison should be bike friendly too.

How would that make your life as a commuter cyclist better?

It would be easier for me to hit the Greenline from my midtown house and, as far as Madison, I believe it would pump life into that area in many more ways than we can see at present.

6.  Do you run any errands on your bike?

I do from time to time, but mostly just to get frozen yogurt for a biking break.

How do you handle cargo?

I have a pack that attaches to the back of my bike, giving me plenty of cargo room for now.  My iPad (for work) will easily fit along with a change of clothes if needed.

Have you invested in any panniers?

That’s my next investment.

7.  Where do you go for information about bike commuting?

The Memphis Hightailers is a great resource along with Livable Memphis and others.

Are there websites you consult?

Memphishightailers.com and livablememphis.org.

What about friends in the area who are experienced cyclists?

There are so many friends and acquaintances that I make everyday from biking, all who are glad to give you pointers and to be riding partners.  There are many weekly rides, such as the one that leaves every Tuesday from the Peddler Bike Shop.

8.  Have you had any fun cycling adventures, like riding from Shelby Farms to downtown or from midtown to T. O. Fuller State Park?

I’ve biked to Shelby Farms from midtown and midtown to downtown many times but one of my most memorable adventures was a MS 150 I did a while back.  The first day was a great 75 mile ride, the second day started out OK but soon started raining and lightning about 10 miles into the ride, that’s when I caught a ride back to Memphis in the back of a covered truck.

9.  What kind of bike do you have?

I have a Trek 7.2.

Are there any biking accessories you can’t live without?

My helmet and lights for night riding.

10.  What about drivers in Memphis?

I have not had a problem but I’m always looking out for the other guy, cars are much bigger than me and my bike.

How friendly are they to commuter cyclists?

So far so good but I did have a homeless person throw an empty beer can at me once, I think I was on their turf.

11.  Any other stories you’d like to share?

The only other story I have to share is that biking is great and everyone should give it a try if you can.  If you don’t bike, try walking, running, swimming or anything to be active and remember to share the road.

Thanks Joe.  If you’d like to be interviewed for this blog about your cycling adventures in Memphis, just leave me a note in the comments.

 

Weekend Wrap-Up

I’ve been meaning to mention how much I love the new Reading List feature in Safari.  It’s made collecting links for my weekly wrap-up considerably easier.  I know, there’s probably some Firefox plugin that does it 10x better, but I am after all a creature of habit.  Safari became my default browser around the time it first showed up in my Dock.  So there.

OK, on with the news.  Pleasanton, California deserves big props for using microwave technology to protect cyclists.  Microwaves: not just for burritos anymore.

The effort to get bike lanes on Madison – seriously, I think those are probably the words most commonly used together on this blog – continues.  Visit the blog and sign the petition if you haven’t, please.  Here’s a great article by the creator of said blog and petition.  Hat tip to Les Edwards everyone.

The Memphis MPO wants your pictures.

It’s good to know that North Carolina appreciates complete streets.  So do Tupelo and Hernando.  Hopefully Memphis will too.

Have you heard of Drag’n Frozen Treats?  No?  Well, you have now.  Hit up the dude for some heat-beating treats.

This is awesome.  (h/t Cort).  So is this.

So it looks like bike lanes aren’t that bad after all.

Haters gonna hate.  Also, biking in a skirt is really, really bad.

Yes, please.

The good people over at Operation Broken Silence are organizing a Ride for Refuge bike ride on 5 November at Shelby Farms.  I hope to be there, but my morning is already booked and the ride leaves at 1:00 PM.  It’ll be a stretch, but if I can be there, I will be.  You should be too.  (h/t Ryan)

And then there’s this.  Suffice to say that I will have more to say in the coming days.  Stay tuned, my people.

Call to Action

My people.  As you’ve likely heard if you are on the facebooks or read the local papers, but Memphis City Council member Janis Fullilove claimed today that bike lanes on Madison Avenue would be  “a disaster waiting to happen” and “irresponsible.”

What’s interesting is that Ms. Fullilove appears to be basing her claim on the concerns of one business owner, Selma Brinson of Brinson Tax Service, located at the corner of Madison and McLean.  I don’t recall seeing Ms. Fullilove at any of the past meetings about bike lanes on Madison, so her late entry into this debate is, well, curious.

But whatever the case, here’s what we can do.  First, contact Ms. Fullilove’s office and express your support for bike lanes on Madison.  Feel free to mention all of the evidence that contradicts her claim, but please do so respectfully.  We don’t want/need this dialogue to devolve into the comments section of the Commercial Appeal.

Also, don’t hesitate to contact Mayor Wharton’s office.  In the most respectful manner you can muster, tell him how much bike lanes on Madison would mean to you.  I already have, and will do so again.

While you’re at it, drop a line to Councilman Jim Strickland, whose jurisdiction includes Madison Avenue.  I’m sure he’s caught an earful about bike lanes on Madison from those businesses who are opposed to them – let’s let him know that lots of Memphians support those lanes.  Again, be nice.

Lastly, visit this website for more information on businesses on Madison that, gasp, support bike lanes on their street.  Also, if you haven’t already, please sign this petition and leave a comment about why you want bike lanes on Madison.  The original goal of the petition was to collect 250 signatures.  As of this writing, 1,187 people have signed on.  I did, and if I could do it twice, you know I would.  (In the spirit of voting early and often, of course.)

People, we can do this.  I feel like the momentum is on our side, thanks to the efforts of people too numerous to mention, and articles like this.  (Major props to Les for that one.)  The time for action is now.  Let us all join together and raise our voices in support of bike lanes on Madison.  We’ve waited too long and worked too hard for this opportunity to slip through our fingers.

Weekend Wrap-Up

Greetings from beautiful Heflin, Alabama.  I’m here for the weekend visiting relatives and enjoying a few days of constrained options.  One of the best parts of spending a few days away from home is the fact that I can’t do much else except read, work on a crossword puzzle, or write.  All of my work is at home and I have practically no choice but to relax.  Too bad my bike is at home too.

Anyway, I don’t have much to share with you this week.  I’ve been gone since Wednesday morning and have barely touched my bike since last week’s Cycle Memphis ride.  But a friend of mine shared this link with me.  These are some seriously awesome cargo bikes and the videos are quite entertaining too.

Speaking of cargo bikes, Cort over at Fix Memphis posted this about a new cargo bike the Peddler is “renting” out for interested riders.  I plan to sign up for a day and write about it.

Also, here’s a flickr set of pictures from the Cycle Memphis ride.

And lastly, the petition to support dedicated bike lanes on Madison has amassed over 1000 signature, four times its original goal of 250.  Let’s keep spreading the word and show that the momentum is on our side.

One more thing: do you like the band Wilco?  Do you like bikes?  Well, here you go.

Have a good weekend, everyone.  I can’t wait to come home and enjoy the cooler weather.

(Very delayed) Weekend Wrap-Up

First of all, as I indicated at the end of my next-to-last post, I had planned to participate in a bike polo match for the first time tonight, having been invited by local bike polo aficionado Brett Edmonds.  As it happened, I decided to bow out, instead choosing to spend a day getting stuff done and hanging out with the wife.  It was a day much needed and well spent.  (Even “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” was not as abysmal as I thought it would be.)

But beyond that, I have quite a few links and articles to share with you.  So let’s get started.

First, here’s a great letter to the editors of the Commercial Appeal about the need for improvements to Madison Avenue.  While the letter does not explicitly mention bike lanes, the fact that it was written by a Midtown business owner gives it additional credence.  Let’s hope that the writer’s vision comes to fruition.

Did you ever think that Car and Driver magazine would endorse alternate transportation systems?  Well, they have.  And kudos to them for that.

Some really awesome (and adventurous) people are cycling across the U.S. in super-awesome velomobiles.  While they won’t be stopping in Memphis, I am impressed with their efforts. Especially considering this book, which I finished a few weeks ago.  I will likely complain many times about the state of roads in Memphis (Cooper Street just north of Central, in the far-right southbound lane; Linden Avenue heading into downtown … the list goes on), but I will do so with the understanding that many past cyclists had it far worse than I ever will.

This woman is awesome.  I don’t know that I would have had the guts that she did.

It’s hard to believe that the Shelby Farms Greenline is less than one year old.  Honestly, it feels like it’s been around for years, and I haven’t even biked it that many times.  Whatever the case, there is a half-marathon scheduled for Sunday, 2 October to celebrate the one-year anniversary of its (official) opening, plus a day-long party on the Greenline the day before.  I’ll be at the latter for sure, but probably not the former.

Cort over at Fix Memphis continues his heroic and awesome quest to chronicle every bike rack in the whole damn city.  That’s a lot of pedaling.

My wife and I have no immediate plans to have kids, but if/when we do, I want a cargo bike like this lady has.  How ridiculously awesome/adorable is that?

Charles McVean is also awesome.  The CA agrees.  So does this cyclist.

In other Cort news, here’s a great discussion on bike cargo transportation-solutions.  Makes me want a bike trailer even more.

Yep.

If the Harahan Bridge project should go through, here’s a snapshot of what it might mean for Memphis.  Granted, the mid-south is not the mid-west, but drawing more tourists to the area can only be a good thing.  Here’s more about the project.

I’m glad to see that slow biking is getting some attention.  Granted, I had not heard of this idea before reading that article, but it’s good that some people are recognizing the benefits of biking, in terms of allowing (if not encouraging) us to slow down and take in our surroundings and communities.

The awesome people at Livable Memphis are sponsoring a discussion on Portland, Oregon and it’s livability.  It’s scheduled for Tuesday, 16 August, from 5:30 PM to 7:00 PM at the Benjamin Hooks LIbrary on Poplar.  I don’t know if I will be there, but maybe you should be.

Biking to work keeps getting more awesome.

People, be careful out there.

OK, that’s all for now.  I’m heading out of town on Wednesday so my biking (and blogging) this week will be somewhat limited.  But I’ll be back soon.  Thanks for reading.

Responding to Comments

I’ve gotten a couple of comments in the past week that I want to respond to in a post, as opposed to in another comment.  Here we go …

First, please join me in wishing an early welcome-to-Memphis to Yuhei, who asks this question:

Hi Doug,

I am moving to Memphis this August, and wanted to ask you if you know there is any safe bike route for commuting from downtown to the University of Memphis. It would be very helpful if you can provide me with any information on it.

Thank you,

Yuhei

Absolutely, Yuhei, there are many routes you could take from downtown to campus.  The best route leaves downtown on Linden Avenue.

Linden intersects Main Street (in downtown) a few blocks south of Union Avenue.  (You should probably be looking at Google Maps right now.)  Following Linden Avenue east, you keep biking until you intersect with Rozelle Street.  Turn right on Rozelle and proceed south to Harbert Avenue.  Turn left on Harbert and follow it to Cooper Street.  Then turn right on Cooper and follow it to Southern Avenue.  Southern has bike lanes for most of the ride to campus, one of the few streets in Memphis that currently does.  If you follow Southern to campus, you’ll end up at the southwest corner of campus, at the intersection of Patterson and Walker.  From there you can quickly proceed to you office or classroom.  You can see a map of most of this route in this blog post.

Drop me a line when you get to town.  I’m also an employee of the University of Memphis.

Second, I’ve gotten a couple of responses to Ryan’s question about biking from Memphis to New Orleans.  He asked this:

Hey Doug,

I’ve been thinking for some time about bike riding from Memphis to New Orleans on top of the river levees (I’m pretty sure they have dirt/farm access road on top of the levee for a significant portion of the trip).

Know anyone who’s ever tried a similar trip, or how long it would take?

Kermit responds with this:

Riding the Levee’s is illegal, I have looked into it.  You may consider riding the Mississippi River Trail which is actually all on roads.  There is a guide available online, and I also saw one sitting on the counter of the bike section of the Outdoors Inc shop on Union Avenue.

And just today, Bob added this:

Ride to New Orleans: MRT – Mississippi River Trail, mississippirivertrail.org/index.html – It goes from Minneapolis to NOLA crossing the river at Memphis on the old bridge (a truly unique experience if you’ve never ridden across).  I understand road marking is spotty and some of the routes may be sketchy, but someone has produced a guidebook for the route available on the MRT website.

And there you have it.  Thanks to everyone for the comments/questions and your responses.  Hopefully I’ll see you all soon, biking in Memphis.

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.