Category: Neato

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

New bike!

OK, it’s not actually a new bike anymore.  It was new when I bought it back in March, but after five months of fairly intense riding, it’s not new anymore.  But the excitement hasn’t worn off at all, even if the tires are showing some wear.  I haven’t ridden my Gary Fisher since spring, if that tells you anything.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  For years I had wanted to buy another bike.  Not that I didn’t like my Fisher; it was my primary means of getting around town for most of the year since 2008.  I rode thousands of miles on it, my first grown-up bike.  But apparently wanting ever more bikes is a known condition among cyclists.  We should probably name it as a syndrome or something.

The problem was that I couldn’t decide what kind of bike I wanted to get.  It didn’t make sense to buy another MTB, even though I never used my Fisher for off-roading.  For a while I considered buying a Dutch-style commuter bike, like one of these beauties from the Public Bike Company, but I already had a functional commuter bike, and the geometry of a Dutch bike wasn’t really that different from my Fisher.  I knew I didn’t really want a road bike – although I totally do now.  And obviously, cruisers and comfort bikes were right out.

So for a long time I did nothing, waiting for the perfect bike to manifest itself.  And it finally did.  Daniel at Midtown Bike Company posted some images of some absolutely lovely bikes from the State Bicycle Company, based in Tempe, AZ, on Facebook, and I knew that I had found my first second bike.  State makes a variety of bikes, but I settled on the Falcore, a single-speed bike with a flip-flop hub, bullhorn handlebars, and nothing else.  I wanted to keep this baby clean and unadorned with bottle cages and other accoutrements.  Here’s a picture:

Falcore

Turns out that keeping it clean is more of a challenge than I expected when I order the bike.  As you can see from image on State’s website, the bike looks light gray in color, which is exactly what I thought I was ordering.  But no.  It is white.  Solid white.  White frame, white chain, white crankset, white fork, white stem, white seat, even white tires and white spokes.  All of it is white, except for the rims, which are gray.  And just to keep that theme going, I bought some lovely front and rear lights with white casings at Victory.  Gotta keep those accessories pure, you know.

There is an advantage of having a unique bike like this: if it ever gets stolen [crossing myself] it will be easy to spot on the street or in a pawn shop.  And yes, I have noted that essentially I am riding a ghost bike.  Apparently I’m not very superstitious.

So, despite the near impossibility of keeping my bike clean, I frickin’ love it.  It is soooo much lighter and faster than my Fisher, and I rarely miss having gears.  And I really love the bullhorn handle bars.  Honestly, one of the reasons I chose this bike is that it reminded me of Joseph Gordon Levitt’s bike in Premium Rush.  (Side note: I really enjoyed that movie, and not just for the biking.)  I haven’t tried riding it in fixie mode yet, but when I have an afternoon free, you might just see me pedaling around Tiger Lane all hipster like.

One thing that State does with its bikes is discontinue them after a while.  That way you are far less likely to see someone else riding your bike around town.  I love this.  How embarrassing would it be to show up at a group ride and see someone else with your exact bike?  It would be like seeing someone else with the same prom dress.  You know … from what I’ve heard.

End of the week links

Hi everyone.  I wanted to share a few links and news items on this lovely Sunday afternoon.

First, you will never catch me sporting one of these (although my 11-year-old self has already asked for one for Christmas).  It reminds me of the whistle tip phenomenon of ten years ago.

Second, grab your spare parts and unneeded gear.  Memphis is having another bike swap meet.  This one is scheduled for Saturday, March 16 at Minglewood Hall on Madison, from 2:00 PM to 7:00 PM.  Admission is $5, and there will be beer.  Those of you with long memories of Memphis cycling remember the swap meets of a few years ago.  I went to the last one.  It was great.  That’s where I bought these beauties.

Swag

So much swag.

The University of Memphis Tiger Bikes bike share program is almost ready to launch.  I think I’ve posted about this before; can’t remember though.  Anyway, my friend and colleague Amelia Mayahi and I have been working on this project for around two years.  The bikes, 55 of them, are all assembled and waiting to be ridden.  We’re still waiting on a few last details to be taken care of before students can begin using the bikes.  I’m really excited for this program to take off and to see more students biking around campus.  Special thanks to the good people at the Peddler Bike Shop for supplying the bikes and invaluable assistance.

More good biking news for Memphis: we’re hosting the Tennessee Bike Summit!  It’s going down May 22 – May 24 at Rhodes College.  This will be a great opportunity to highlight all the positive changes that have been happening in local cycling, and in other cities across the state.  Registration opens March 1.

Also, if you’re a fixie fan, check out this page.

Speaking of fixies, I’ve never owned one or even ridden one, but after seeing Premium Rush this weekend, I am sooooo tempted to buy one.  The movie itself is pretty good; not the best movie I’ve ever seen, but full of ridiculously fun biking.  Two thumbs up.

Finally, I found this tumblr just recently.  It’s not biking related, but it is a celebration of all things Memphis, which is good enough to post here.  Fuck yeah Memphis indeed!

The miles keep adding up

Last week was a pretty damn awesome week on the bike.  I managed to commute to and from work and around town four days out of five and ran a boatload of errands to boot.  Let’s review …

Monday was easy.  I biked to work in the morning, then home in the afternoon.  Nothing terribly exciting to report about that.  I did have a pretty full load in my panniers, as I had to pack in my suit for an on-camera interview that morning.  Otherwise, easy peasy.

However, I had been noticing that my car was overheating and its engine was revving when idling, as if to run the fan and cool the motor.  Given that I needed to drive on Thursday, I had to take my car to the shop on Tuesday to make sure it was repaired on time.  So that morning, I loaded up my gear and my bike and drove to Barton’s on Overton Park Drive.  I had to be on campus by 8:30 AM, so I left the house super-early (for me, anyway) at just past 7.  After dropping of my car, I biked to campus.

What made the ride so enjoyable, other than the opportunity to watch the sun rise over Memphis as I headed to work, was that I followed a new route to campus.  From Barton’s I biked through Overton Park, east on Broad St., then south on Tillman to the Greenline.  I rode the Greenline east to High Point Terrace, which I followed south to campus.  It was a really great ride, and faster than I expected: just over 30 minutes.  (I’m sure the two double cappuccinos I had that morning helped.)  After class and a few meetings, I biked home.  Here’s the map:

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The loop at the end was courtesy a trip to the bank.  11.5 miles total.  Whee!

My car was ready that afternoon, so Wednesday morning I biked to Barton’s, stopping at Black Lodge on the way, picked up my car, and drove it home.  Then I biked to campus, had my day at work, and left in the afternoon to run a few errands.

From campus I biked to Poplar Plaza and bought a few things at the soon-to-be-replaced Kroger.  Then I rode to Busters for some vino, even biking on Poplar during rush hour for a spell.  From Busters I headed west to the Memphis Public Library on Poplar, then biked home.  I was going to go to Home Depot, but the hour was growing late and I was hungry.  Once again, here’s the map:

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Another 14.5 miles.  Awesome.

What I enjoyed most about the week was the variation in routes.  Normally I follow pretty much the same route every day.  Sure, I could mix it up, but like a lot of commuters (of the two-wheeled and four-wheeled varieties), I mostly just want to get where I’m going.  Being pushed into new routes was really nice.

Friday was super easy.  I biked to and from Otherlands, my normal Friday routine.  So easy, I didn’t even bother with cycling gear.

Altogether, I logged around 30 miles last week.  That’s roughly two gallons of gas I would have otherwise burned, meaning that I saved … um … how much is gas these days?  I can never remember.

Anyway, more news later this week.  I hope to see you on the road soon.

Fairly epic biking day

Now that spring semester is in full swing, I’ve been biking quite a bit more lately.  I hardly touched my bike between mid-December and mid-January, mostly because I was out of town and then sick for much of that time.  I always enjoy falling back into the routine of a semester, and enjoy even more that my holidays don’t end for weeks after most others.

I spent the first part of the day today cleaning up the house.  My wife was predictably buried in work – anyone who claims that public school teachers only work 40 hours per week deserves to have their toes run over – so I took up the mantle of dutiful husband.  By mid-afternoon the house was clean and the laundry hanging up to dry, so I set out on some errands.  I worried for a moment that the weather wouldn’t hold up – a few drops of rain pelted my iPhone screen as I prepared to ride – but it passed without incident.

Here’s a map of my ride.

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I left home just before 4:00 PM and biked to the public library on Poplar to get some books for a workshop next weekend.  My ride began on Southern Avenue (yay bike lanes!), then headed north through the Beltline Community and then Chickasaw Gardens.   Fifteen minutes after leaving the house, I was at the library.  After much fruitless searching, I only found two of the seven titles I was looking for, meaning that I’ll be heading out east later this week.  No matter today though.  My next stop was a bit further west: Office Depot on Union.

I could have shaved a mile or two off my ride by going to Office Max, also on Union, instead, but Office Depot has a certain kind of paper I use for certificates for my workshops.  And I think their prices might be better.  Anyway, I needed some supplies, as did the wife, so I biked west through Chickasaw Gardens, Midtown, then up to Linden Avenue.  Linden took me to Walnut, then my destination.  Thirty minutes later, my panniers were laden with paper, copies, pencils, and other evidence that I live in house of teachers.  Next stop: Home Depot on Poplar.

You might be wondering why I didn’t go to Home Depot first, before Office Depot.  (It was a day of many depots.)  That was for the simple reason that Office Depot closed at 6:00 PM, so I had to go there first, before heading east to Home Depot.  Fortunately, I made it to both stores with plenty of time to spare.  My trip to Home Depot added two LED light bulbs, four spray bottles, masking tape, a wall switch for the bulbs, and a battery to my load.  Interesting thing about those bulbs: while expensive as hell, they are supposed to last for over 22 years.  Meaning that we should still be using these bulbs as I near retirement.  Not sure what to do with that.

Anyway, after leaving Home Depot (with none of my previous acquisitions having been lifted from my panniers, thankfully), I biked south to Kroger on Union.  I debated on the way about the best way to get there.  I considered biking east to McLean, then south and west to Kroger.  But traffic was pretty light by that point, so I turned south on Belvedere and did something I almost never do: I biked on Union Avenue.  Granted, it was only for one block, but still.  That road is not fit for cyclists.

My trip to Kroger added a bag of tortilla chips, some cheese, fake bacon (NOM), and a few other items to my panniers, which were quite full by this point.  Fortunately, that was my last stop before home, except for a last minute trip to the gas station to pick up something I’d forgotten at Kroger.  I was at home around 3.5 hours after I left, with roughly an hour and fifteen minutes spent on my bike.  It was nice.

So, overall it was a pretty uneventful ride.  Just under fourteen miles, no problems with traffic, nice weather.  What made it somewhat remarkable is that once again I was able to demonstrate that yes, you can run errands on a bike in Memphis.  It’s really not that hard.  In fact, it’s rather fun.

Tomorrow will be a nice, boring ride to campus and back.  I hope your day was as fulfilling as mine.  Have fun biking in Memphis.

End of the week wrap-up

Hi everyone.  Well, after an incredibly productive day yesterday spent working the yard, my immune system decided to take the rest of the weekend off.  I woke up this morning around five with aches, a mild fever, and that special kind of nasty taste in my mouth that only a cold can bring (hint: think an ass-flavored fruit roll-up … with no fruit).  On strict orders from Nurse Wife, I spent the day in bed.  Normally, getting sick really bugs the crap out of me, as I like to stay busy and be busy, even if that means just cleaning up my MP3s or sorting paperclips by color and size.  (Don’t put it past me.)  But it was actually really nice to have a day of forced rest.  We’ve both been ridiculously busy lately, Ms. Wife (and she is known in her new role as a middle-school math teacher in Frayser) especially, so I very much appreciated the downtime, even if Ms. Wife had to spend most of the day working on lesson plans for the next week.  Plus, I managed to plow through a stack of half-read New Yorkers while I rested.  Not even a cold can stop me.

But enough about my unproductive productivity.  I have some articles I’ve been saving for just the right time, which is now.

First, are cyclists the new limousine liberals?  Well, assuming that taking a limousine to work involves profuse sweating, dealing with surly drivers, and the ever-present danger of being run off the road, sure.  But that’s not the point.  Some libertarians in Washington D.C. are apparently taking issue with public subsidies for the city’s very popular and successful bike-sharing program.  Their beef is that most of the riders are college-educated and white, characteristics that don’t reflect the city’s population.  (The article does a good job of addressing that objection.)

The larger question for me revolves around subsidies.  From an economics perspective, goods and services should be subsidized when the value to society exceeds the value to the individual.  In the case of bike infrastructure, there is just such a difference in value.  It has to do with the congestion externality created by vehicular traffic.  Essentially, the individual’s decision to drive a car is motivated largely by individual costs: fuel, repair, and so on.  But the individual’s decision to drive also creates other costs which are not directly paid by the individual.  Among those costs are the reduced driving times experienced by other drivers when one more car enters a roadway.  These congestion costs are a negative externality, a cost generated by each individual but not paid by those individuals.  Generally speaking, negative externalities result in too much of some thing being done.  In this case, too many miles driven.

Cycling however carries very little congestion externality, especially in cities with robust infrastructure for cyclists.  So, a subsidy for these programs is entirely justified, as it uses a public payment to reduce a public cost.  It is worth noting that other solutions to the congestion externality, like congestion taxes, are far less popular (and politically feasible), so targeting these public funds at programs that are popular makes sense.  Plus, there are positive externalities associated with cycling, like enhanced productivity (which might be fully captured in higher wages) and decreased reliance on healthcare (which would be more difficult to capture).  Indeed, there are estimates of the net gain from cycling, and the net costs from driving.

Whatever the case, I think the subsidies are fully justified.  It would be good to see the city take steps to improve access to the program for low-income residents.  But given that libertarians are not known for arguing in favor of government programs to alleviate poverty (beyond an often misguided belief that smaller government = more freedom), it appears that their concerns are motivated more by ideology than sound economics.

Speaking of economics – and who doesn’t tremble with joy on hearing those words? – this brief article on the Marginal Revolution blog asks about the socially optimal level of bike danger.  OK, it’s really just a repost from an email to the authors of the blog, but it raises an interesting question.  Again, we see the presence of an externality, again a negative one.  The externality is the one cyclist’s decision to obey the rules of the road leads to expectations about the overall lawfulness (or lawlessness) of cyclists.  So, if a majority of cyclists in Memphis are law-abiding citizens, stopping at traffic signals and so on, then drivers should expect that any given cyclist will be law-abiding.  The danger, according to the letter, is if a large number of cyclists are scofflaws.  This could change the expectations of drivers about cyclist behavior and potentially lead to more conflicts, accidents, and so on.  (Note: I’ve written about this before.)  And, at least one person thinks that being a lawbreaker is ethical.  Works for me!

Let’s talk for a minute about the phrase “socially optimal.”  Basically, a good or service is produced at a socially optimal level when the value to society of the last unit produced equals the cost to society.  So, thinking about cyclist behavior, the socially optimal level of bike danger (or safety) is found where the benefit of one more instance of dangerous behavior exactly equals the cost.  In other words, the socially optimal level of bike danger is found where there is neither too much nor too little danger.

But again, there could be an externality here, as my decisions about how dangerous to ride could effect drivers’ expectations about how dangerous are all cyclists.  So, I should behave less dangerously, lest my reckless behavior reflect poorly on my two-wheeled brethren.

(And if you needed more libertarian content, the authors of the Marginal Revolution blog, Tyler Cowen and Alex Tabarrok, are economists with a decidedly libertarian bent.  They are both employed at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, which is funded in part by the Koch Brothers.  Whatever the case, and however distasteful you might find the Kochs, I’ve met both Tyler and Alex, and they are both very nice guys.  Also, their microeconomics text is among the best I’ve ever read.  But enough about that.)

A few comments on another post about biking on Marginal Revolution:

  1. No, biking is not inherently dangerous, especially if drivers are polite.
  2. Discouraging biking might be the cheapest way to reduce accidents, but it is not the best way.  See above.
  3. Drivers might have a higher time-value than cyclists, but over short distances, there is little difference between driving and cycling, to say nothing of the health benefits of the latter.
In other news, the Tennessee Department of Transportation is making a statewide tour, soliciting input about transportation funding needs.  They’re scheduled to be in Memphis sometime between September 10th and 13th.  It would be great to see cyclists turn out in droves for these meetings.  Stay tuned for more details.
 
Do we need laws to protect cyclists and pedestrians?  Yes, no doubt.  But such laws will be largely meaningless without effective public education and enforcement.  Some peer-group effects couldn’t hurt either.
 
Making biking less scary?  Yes, please.  I am very pleased to see the efforts to link previously unconnected sections of bike lanes in Memphis into a truly city-wide network.  Big props to our city’s and county’s leaders for taking charge of this issue.
 
Oh, Texas.  You never fail to impress me.  OK, there’s some good stuff in the guidelines, like asking drivers to lower their speed, cover their brakes, etc.  But claiming that pedestrians and cyclists can be huge sources of danger?  Come on.  That’s so 20th century.
 
Lastly, insurance for cyclists?  Yes, please!
 
OK, that’s all I have for now.  Thanks for reading.  More to come soon.

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.

End of the week wrap-up

My people.  It’s been a while since I posted an end-of-the-week wrap-up.  But, since I have a few minutes tonight, and a back-log of articles to share, I think it’s time.

First, what an awesome and amazing article appeared in today’s Commercial Appeal about biking in Memphis.  As I noted on my blog’s Facebook page, I couldn’t have said it better myself.  In fact, I really need to interview this guy for my blog.

Second, I hope that everyone who participated in last night’s Cycle Memphis ride had a great time.  I had planned to go, but spent the day moving boxes of books and other crap from one office to another – it’s a long story – so by last night, I was pretty shagged out.  It looks like the turn-out was really good.  I hope to make September’s ride.  The Cycle Memphis guys always put on a good show.  Hmmm … maybe I should interview them for my blog as well.

Also, from Cort at Fix Memphis, there is a bike polo tournament happening soon.  The game goes down on September 29 at Tiger Lane.  It’s also a benefit for St. Jude’s; always a good cause.  Visit memphisbikepolo.com for more information and to register.

Next, James Roberts posted a question about local bike courier services on the About page of my blog.  I didn’t have anything to tell him, but if any of you have information about any local bike messenger services, please share it in the comments.

Do I have a GPS unit on my bike?  No, unless you count my iPhone.  Do I now want a Japanese GPS unit on my bike?  Oh hell yes.

A bit late, but yikes … be careful out there, Murfreesboro.

If you needed a reminder about all the ways in which biking is awesome, and a key part of our cities’ futures, here you go.

And that’s all for now.  As always, thanks for reading, and I hope to see you all soon, biking in Memphis.

P.S.  I don’t have anyone lined up for the Cyclist of the Month profiles in the next few months, so shoot me a comment if you are interested.

Bike racks on Madison

Hey everyone.  This link is a little too long to share on facebook (just click on it and you’ll see why), but I wanted to share the following good news from the Mid-South Regional Design Center.  It looks like Madison Avenue is getting some free bike racks – 25 of them, to be precise.  This is great news for anyone, like me, who’s biked somewhere on Madison and then found themselves scouting a sign post or tree in the absence of a proper rack.

The good people at the Peddler Bike Shop are donating three racks, the rest coming from the city.  I’m really excited about this.  It’s one thing to have bike lanes or sharrows, but to really be a bike-friendly city, we need to mind the details, like the end-to-end concerns potential and current cyclists might have.  Parking is inevitably one of those concerns, and the more bike parking we have, the more biking we should see.  Which is good for all of us.

August Cyclists of the Month: Memphis Pedicab Company

Hi everyone.

It’s been several months since I posted a Cyclist of the Month interview – that one with Jason Potter was pretty awesome – and I’ve been meaning to sit down with (read: email) the guys at Memphis Pedicab Company for some questions.  Well, after months of procrastination on my part, plus a ridiculously busy schedule, here we are.  Read on to learn about the history of Memphis’s only people-powered transportation team, how to recover from a night of hauling around passengers, and what it’s like to pedal a cab.

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Co-owner Chris Copeland taking some people for a spin.

1. Tell me about the history of Memphis Pedicab. How did this new business get started?

Jeremy Reese and I started the company after finding ourselves unemployed in early 2011.  It was a sudden and unexpected change after dedicating so much time, energy and emotion to someone else’s idea.  Not long after spending all day every day looking for a job and realizing, first-hand, how difficult the current job market is to navigate, we decided that we needed something to do with our time and abilities.  We did some research and found that Pedicabs were becoming more and more popular across the US.  We were intrigued at the possibility and set about finding a used Pedicab to purchase to fuel the fire and proove the concept to ourselves.

Once we found one and drove it back to Memphis, in the back of a rented pick-up, we were convinced. We then put together a business plan, a proforma and secured a business license. Next came our biggest and most rewarding hurdle to clear…We had to submit a proposal to the City and appear before a panel to present our idea and business plan. On the panel were representatives from the Memphis City Gov’t including the Permit Office, the City Attorney’s office, the MATA, the Taxi industry, the Visitors Bureau and Convention Center and the MPD. We really could not have succeeded without the support of the following people: Aubrey Howard at the Permit Office, Kyle Wagenshutz, the Mayor’s Bike and Pedestrian Coordinator, Mayor AC Wharton himself, Leslie Gower and Paul Morris of the Downtown Commission and Maria Fuhrmann from Kemp Conrad’s office.

2. Since you’ve been open, what’s happened to your level of business? Do you plan to add more employees any time soon?

Since starting at the end of last Summer business has most certainly picked up. We don’t have to solicit rides as much as we did initially. People are definitely starting to catch on as they realize how convenient and fun the pedicabs are. We are always looking for a few good men AND women to pedal. It’s a great way to stay in shape while earning a little cash.

3. You must have some really interesting stories from transporting people around downtown in a pedicab. What’s been your most interesting/bizarre clients?

Have you ever seen Taxi Cab confessions on HBO…??? People really will tell you almost anything while you drive them around.

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4. What’s it like driving a pedicab? Those things must be geared in a way to let you handle some serious cargo (i.e. people). And I imagine they have some serious brakes on them too. What’s the weight limit for a pedicab?

Driving a pedicab is tons of fun! Most of the time you are transporting people who are already out to have a good time and you get to be part of it…you get to actually be part of the environment. You’re always meeting someone new and you get to contribute to their experience. The cabs are geared just like a 21speed mountain bike and even though they have a pretty big granny gear a five or six hour shift definitely takes it out of you. Downtown is not as flat as you think it is, especially when carting a few hundred pounds around. The max load is about 800 lbs and they are equipped with hydraulic rear brakes. Usually as the nights progress we inch closer and closer to that max 800 pound limit as people pile on in fours and fives!

5. You must be pretty exhausted after a full day/night of pedaling people around Memphis. What’s your favorite energy booster?

Sugar, sugar and more sugar followed by carbs and more sugar.

6. What other neighborhoods do you think would be well-suited for a pedicab? I could see one making the rounds on Madison Avenue, between Cooper and McLean, especially once Overton Square is renovated.

We ask ourselves that question all the time. We keep coming back to the Cooper-Young/Overton Square area. We really like the feeling and activity in that part of town. Hopefully the Square will make a comeback…it has such great potential. Pedicabs would be perfect for the trip from Cooper Young to Overton Square. That part of town would also be ideal for a dispatch-type of pedicab servivce.

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7. What’s been the response to your business among downtown locals and businesses? Do the horse-drawn carriages ever try to race you?

Sometimes it can be a slow process trying to start something new or break into an industry that has established players. You certainly can’t escape the “new-kid-on-the-block” feeling. Before we had all the required paperwork and been properly vetted the response was not what we had hoped but certainly expected. We are finding our place in the higherarchy, we are starting to be accepted as part of the downtown scene and we couldn’t be happier. And yes, the carriages regularly ask us if we want to race.

8. When the Harahan Bridge project is completed, we’ll have bike lanes crossing the Mississippi River. Any plans to transport people across the river to West Memphis and back?

That is certainly in the cards.

9. What other types of biking do you do around town?

I also race as a Cat 3 cyclist.

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

We are perfect for parties, weddings, corporate events, brand ambassadors or even as a valet service.

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And there you have it, folks.  I’ve been meaning to head downtown and take a ride on a pedicab myself.  Have you done so?  Leave me some love in the comments section, and say hello to Chris, Jeremy, and the rest of the Memphis Pedicab people the next time you’re downtown.