Category: Introduction

Biking at night … ?

Hi everyone.  I received a message from a friend on facebook.  She asked about good routes in Memphis for biking at night.  Apparently she and her brother biked on Madison the other night and both got flats.  That sucks, no doubt.

I recommended many of my favorite routes and neighborhoods: Linden, Chickasaw Gardens, Cooper Young … Midtown in general.  But I thought that you all, my readers, might have some suggestions for her.

So, my people, what are your favorite routes or neighborhoods when biking at night in Memphis?  Don’t forget to mention destinations.  I remember a Cycle Memphis ride a few months ago that paused at Martyr’s Park overlooking the Mississippi River.  That was pretty epic.

As always, share your stories in the comments.  Many thanks.

Happy 1st Birthday, Biking in Memphis

I can’t believe it, but it was exactly one year ago today that I wrote my very first post for this blog.  Looking back, I had no idea what 2011 would bring in terms of my biking, this blog, and the cycling community in Memphis .  So let’s take a moment and look back at the most significant events in the local scene, in no particular order.

1.  Bike lanes, bike lanes, and more bike lanes. I’ve written about the status of bike lanes in Memphis more times than I can recall, but it’s remarkable to remember that it’s been slightly more than one year since our city got it’s very first bike lanes, on Southern Avenue.  And in the past year we’ve seen lanes installed on North Parkway, Chelsea, McLean, MacLemore, and, after more drama than I care to remember, Madison Avenue.  This year we should see even more lanes striped, continuing the transformation of Memphis to a truly bike-friendly city. Along the way we will no doubt face more obstacles and detractors, but I very much feel that the wind is at our backs.  I’m very excited to see the discontinuous sections of existing lanes connected into a true cycling network.

Not only did we see more bike lanes, but we saw the cycling community in Memphis and its supporters truly galvanize behind this issue.  The Rally for Great Streets in September showed that cyclists can and will turn out in favor of bike lanes, Livable Memphis did an exceptional job of spreading the word and rallying the troops, Matt Farr launched the website bikesmeanbusiness.com and the petition drive on MadisonBikeLanes.com gave names to our numbers.  I’m really proud of my city for this, and very thankful for our local cycling activists for their hard work (Anthony, Kyle, Sarah, and Les, I’m looking at you, among many others.)

2.  The Greenline turns one. It’s difficult to overstate the importance of this rails-to-trails project, not just for local cyclists, pedestrians, and runners, but for the idea that Memphis has no greater aspirations than being sedentary.  The success of the Greenline proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that Memphians are eager for new opportunities to get out and move, and I’m proud that our city leaders heard those pleas.

3.  The death of Chris Davidson. It’s hard to write with eloquence about someone I never met, but as the outpouring of support for his family and loved ones clearly demonstrates, Chris touched many people and was loved by all who knew him.  The driver of the car who hit Chris has yet to be found, and might never be, which only compounds this tragedy.  I don’t know what lessons there are to be learned from this, other than take care of each other and look out for one another.

4.  Cycle Memphis group rides. Years ago, when I first started biking around town, I attended a Memphis Critical Mass group ride or two.  It was fun, but we were never much of a mass, nor were we particularly critical.  Perhaps it is not surprising, in a city known (rightly or wrongly) for a certain degree of apathy, that it would be hard to get people together for a regular group ride intended to raise awareness about cyclists in Memphis, but I’m glad that Adam and Jason had the brilliant idea of turning a group ride into a rolling party, complete with sound system and a mid-ride snack break.  I’ve ridden on 3-4 of the Cycle Memphis rides and am looking forward to many more, especially once the weather warms up and more people dust off their two-wheelers.  Now if I could just figure out how to attach a disco ball to my bike …

5.  Local bike shops grow. In the past year we’ve seen two local bike shops, Victory Bicycle Studios and Midtown Bikes, significantly expand the scale of their operations and move to new locations, and another local outdoor store, Outdoors Inc., open another bike shop at a new location.  If anyone needed proof that biking is growing in Memphis, there you have it. Best of luck to these local bike shops and all the rest.  Let’s spend lots of money there.

6.  Project: Bike Love. Local photographer and Victory Bicycle Studios employee Nathan Berry began recruiting local cyclists in the fall for a series of photographs.  The images depicted the cyclists in street clothes with their bikes, in an effort to demystify cycling as a means of transportation and recreation.  I was honored to have been nominated for the series (h/t Clark) and proud to see my picture on display with so many prominent local cyclists.  I hear there’s a book in the future from this … sign me up for a copy.  Nathan’s a fantastic photographer.  You can learn more about Project: Bike Love on facebook.

I was also honored to have been suggested for inclusion in the equally-awesome This is Memphis series of photographs.  While not limited to local cyclists, the series did feature such prominent folks as Matt Farr, Anthony Siracusa, and Kyle Wagenschutz.  Visit the website to see me in my power suit of doom.

7.  More bike rides than you can shake a stick at. In addition to the Cycle Memphis group rides, Memphians enjoyed numerous other group rides for cyclists of all ages and abilities, including the Tour de Grizz, Tweed Rides, Rock and Revolution Group Ride, Midnight Classic, and many more than I can remember.  Big props to all those who make these events happen.

8.  National recognition for Memphis. The League of American Bicyclists awarded our fair city two awards for improving our bike facilities and becoming more cycling friendly. Considering the reputation that Memphis had before, this is truly good news, and a long time coming.

9.  Funding for a Greenline to Overton Park connection and Greenline extension. The only thing better than the Greenline?  MORE Greenline!  And soon we will have just that, thanks to funding for connecting the Greenline to Overton Park via the increasingly-awesome Broad Avenue district, and even more funding to extend the Greenline east to Cordova.  Oh hells yes.

10.  Wolf River Greenway to Germantown connection. Announced back in October, by next summer Memphians will be able to ride from Midtown to Shelby Farms across the Wolf River and all the way to Germantown on dedicated bike paths.  This should make my periodic trips to the Apple Store at Saddle Creek far more enjoyable.

11.  The Harahan Bridge. We don’t yet know when bike lanes will be extended across this wonderful old bridge, but it will hopefully happen soon.  Keep up to date here.

12.  More bike blogs! OK, I don’t know when Ty at Living Loud in Midtown or Cort at Fix Memphis or Brett at Gotta Be Gritty started writing, but even if it wasn’t in 2011, I’m giving them a shout out.  Represent!

13.  I know I’m missing something, if not many things, so please remind me in the comments below.

A few more thoughts before I sign off and get ready for the Grizzlies game tonight.  Originally I had planned to continue this blog for a year and document my experiences as a commuter cyclist in Memphis.  One year and 150 posts later, I think I’m going to keep writing.  And riding.  And writing about riding.

Despite all the adventures I’ve had over the last year, there is still so much I have yet to try, so many parts of town I’ve never visited on my bike, and so much I have yet to write about.  So to give you a preview of what to look forward to in 2012, here are a couple of my New Year’s resolutions:

1.  I will try bike polo.  At least once.  I promise.  And hopefully I won’t look like a complete tool.

2.  I will volunteer at Revolutions and build my own bike there.  I’ve been wanting a road bike, something very simple and clean I can take on group rides, and I’ve been meaning to learn more about bike repair and maintenance.  Starting sometime this spring, I’m making it happen.

3.  I will introduce new features to this blog, like … nah, you’ll just have to wait.

I’d like to close by saying thanks to everyone who commented on my posts, agreed to be interviewed, went on group rides with me, and worked hard to make Memphis the bike town we know it should be.  I’ve met a lot of great people in 2011 and I look forward to more of the same in 2012.  In the meantime, let’s all keep biking in Memphis.

Dragging myself kicking and screaming into the 21st Century

People.  I’ve finally taken the plunge and created a facebook page and a twitter account for this blog.  (I know, how cutting edge!)  They are:

https://www.facebook.com/bikinginmemphis

http://www.twitter.com/bikinginmemphis

What’s funny is that I actually created the twitter account months ago, just so no one could grab it, but hadn’t checked it in since then.  When I logged in last night, I already had one follower.

Anyway, feel free to like my facebook page and follow me on twitter.  I’m going to post links to my most recent blog entries as well as other articles and stuff.

Pardon the Dust

Hi everyone.  I’m trying out a new WordPress theme this week and am having a bit of an issue with some of the settings. In particular, the links are really hard to see.  I’ve tried tweaking the settings but to no avail.  I really like the theme, so we’ll see what I can do with it.  Please bear with me while I try to improve the look and feel of this blog.

The U of M Cycling Club

Hey everyone.  Today was an exciting day at Biking in Memphis; a record 70+ readers visited this blog, many I imagine for the first time.  To everyone I say: thanks for stopping by, and I hope to hear from you soon.

In other news, please don’t forget that Mayor Wharton will soon make a decision about whether or not to install bike lanes on Madison Avenue.  While I very much want bike lanes on Madison – and every other street in Memphis – I also want to keep the tenor of the conversation very civil, especially from the pro-bike-lane camp (the anti-bike-lane contingent appears to have abandoned that strategy long ago, if they ever even adopted it).  So if you email the Mayor, please keep your comments very positive and supportive of him and his past efforts to support bike lanes in Memphis. Don’t bother mentioning the businesses that are opposed to bike lanes on Madison; the Mayor has heard enough from and about them.  It is high time for cycling-friendly citizens to have their voices heard. Continue reading

Oops

It occurred to me as I was updating the links page of this site that the name I chose for this site – Biking in Memphis – is remarkably similar to the name of an organization that does a great job of supporting Memphis cyclists: Bike Memphis. Just to clear the air, I am in no way trying to confuse people about what I do or what Bike Memphis does, nor am I trying to glom onto their good name.  I’m writing about my experiences biking in Memphis, and I really appreciate all the work that Bike Memphis and many other organizations do to support cyclists like me.  Given that my page views are right now somewhere near zero, I can’t imagine that anyone is confused or upset.  But I wanted to take a moment to make my intentions clear.

Firsties

Hi everyone.  As I feel most blog writers should, I’m going to begin with an apology.  Not for presuming that you are interested in what I have to write about – you’re free to resume affirming your self-worth over at failblog at any time – but for the name of this blog.

In a way it’s the perfect name; the focus of this blog is the ins-and-outs of being a commuter cyclist in Memphis.  And that’s me. I’m a commuter cyclist in Memphis.  Hello.  Nice to meet you.

But unfortunately, the name of this blog (Biking in Memphis) inevitably invokes the name of a song that I absolutely detest.  I won’t mention it by name, but here’s the video.

I actually hated the song for years before I ever moved to Memphis.  Need I explain why?  It’s just a very trite recitation of “Memphis highlights,” like Beale Street, Graceland, Elvis, and so 0n.  OK fine, it does mention W.C. Handy, the Hollywood, Al Green, and the Delta Blues, but it does so in a way that is so cloyingly earnest it makes me barf.  Would like to hear a better song about Memphis?  Try this.  Or this.

But I’m getting far afield here.  My plan is to spend the next year or so writing about the day-to-day realities of being an urban commuter cyclist in Memphis.  Plenty of other blogs detail the travails of commuter cycling in other cities, but as far as I know I’m one of the first in Memphis.  (Once I finalize my list of links, I’ll be sure to include some of the other cycling blogs and websites I’ve found that are specific to Memphis.)

Anyway, that’s the big idea here.  I’m planning to publish at least once a week, perhaps more if the mood strikes me. Feel free to leave comments, just don’t be an asshole.

And by all means, get on your bikes and ride.