Category: Recreational Cycling

Last Night’s Meeting

Hi everyone.  I had planned to attend last night’s meeting about the proposed improvements to Madison Avenue but decided not to; our six-year-old niece is visiting us this summer and this is her last week with us.  So we a nice family night at home instead, complete with sandwiches from Lenny’s and yogurt from Yo Lo.  Yum.

But Ty over at Living Loud in Midtown took some rather comprehensive notes which you can read here.  Some of the notes are rather cryptic but overall I like what I see.  It looks like 80-90% of respondents to last week’s survey want protected bike lanes.  I also see a reference to slowing the speed limit on Madison from the current 35 M.P.H. to 30.  Slowing traffic on Madison should allow for more cars on the road, perhaps alleviating concerns from the business owners about bike lanes.

Also interesting was the data about actual traffic levels – not capacity – on Madison.  It looks like total volume was 12,000 to 13,000 cars per day, well down from the early 1980s, when volume was nearly 28,000 per day.  Peak times were the evening, where 700 cars per hour traveled the road.  Installing bike lanes and turn lanes would reduce capacity to around 17,000.

I’m really optimistic for the future of Madison Avenue, and very hopeful that bike lanes are part of that.  You can read more about last night’s meeting here.  Please take a moment to fill out this week’s survey once it is posted, and I’ll see you at next week’s meeting.

P.S.  Forgot to mention this before – if you were at the meeting last night and have any information to share, please do so in the comments.  Thanks!

Weekend Wrap-Up

Hi everyone.  It’s been yet another busy week here at Biking in Memphis.  My summer semester ended on Friday, a week earlier than the rest of the university, as I’ve been teaching an economics course at the Governor’s School for International Studies.  GSIS is one of the dozen or so Governor’s School programs across the state and, in my opinion, is the best.  Some of you might have attended a GS when you were in high school; if so, you know how much fun they are.  I count myself as very lucky that I’m able to teach there every summer.  My students this year were exceptionally smart and funny.  (CORN!!!)

OK.  Onto the weekend wrap-up.  I’ve already written about the meeting last week about Madison Avenue.  Here’s an article about the same from the Memphis Business Journal and, hot off the presses, an editorial from the CA in support of bike lanes and other improvements.  I’m really excited for the second of the three meetings this week on Wednesday, 6 July, at 5:30 PM at Minglewood Hall.  Don’t forget to complete this survey about the future of Madison Avenue.

To get an idea of what bike and pedestrian lanes can mean to a city – one in Tennessee no less – have a look at this picture of Chattanooga’s amazing river walk.  I really hope that planners in Memphis use this as inspiration for what our river front can look like.

I heard that the inaugural Cycle Memphis group ride was very well attended – apparently over 60 cyclists rode from Cooper Young to downtown and back.  Here’s a map of the route they followed.  I had really wanted to attend the ride, but given the fact that I’ve been at work late several times over the past few weeks (for the aforementioned GSIS) and that my six-year-old niece is visiting from Atlanta, I decided that having some family time at home was more important.  But next month I will most definitely be there.

I’ve long suspected that cycling is not any slower than driving, especially over relatively short distances or in urban traffic, and can even be faster in some circumstances, and this article about Congressman Earl Blumenauer lends some credence to that conclusion.  Of course, an sample size of one does not make for good predictions – the article really should not have claimed that Mr. Blumenauer’s experiment proved anything; it does however strongly suggest that cycling can be faster than driving – but my 3.25-mile commute to campus takes about 15 minutes by bike and about 10 minutes in a car (not accounting for time spent driving around my parking deck looking for a parking space), further suggesting that cycling car be just as fast as driving.  I’ve also noticed when driving around town that cyclists riding along with traffic keep pace with cars for surprising.  Also, the Portland NPR affiliate replicated Mr. Blumenauer’s experiment and – drumroll please – bikes won.  At least one participating cyclist was not surprised.

This does make me wonder about the expected trip length over which cycling is as fast or faster than driving.  Is it one mile?  Two?  Are we talking about point-to-point travel, or would this include time spent looking for parking?  If one included that, I imagine that the maximum trip length could be quite a bit longer than expected.

Whatever the case, it looks like bike commuting is becoming more popular and that middle-aged men are leading the way.  Hooray for my demographic!

Not surprisingly, as more bikes are on the road, we’re seeing more conflicts between cyclists and drivers.  My hope is that these episodes are evidence of a maturing cycling movement and that they’ll soon level off if not decrease.  Better education for drivers, cyclists, and police officers can only help.

Hey, need an inexpensive bike trailer?  Have a look at this kludge.

It looks like building bike infrastructure actually creates more jobs per dollar spent than mixed-use or car-only projects.  Have a look at this article for more discussion.

Need something to read at the beach this summer?  Here’s some recommendations from Bike Portland.  I’ve just started reading The Lost Cyclist and I’m really enjoying it so far.  Or, you could always grab some Ludwig Von Mises like Rep. Michelle Bachman claims to do.

[pause for loud, snorting, derisive laughter]

Anyway, have a good week biking, Memphians.  Since I’m off work this week, I’m probably going to hit the Greenline at least once.  Hope to see you there.

Cycle Memphis Group Ride!!!

Cycle Memphis is sponsoring its first group ride this Saturday, 2 July, beginning at 8:00 PM.  The meeting place is the gazebo at the corner of Cooper and Young.  The ride will be moderately paced and good for beginners.  Read more about it here.

I really hate that I’m going to miss it but I need to spend some time at home with the fam that night.  But next month I am totally there.

Presenting July’s Cyclist of the Month: Tina Pierce Sullivan

Hi everyone.  It is with great pleasure that I post the first in a hopefully long series of entries about local commuter cyclists.  Our first cyclist, Tina Pierce Sullivan, works at the University of Memphis (like me) and cycles to work on the Southern Avenue bike lanes (like me).  We met last week at Brother Junipers for breakfast and conversation about cycling, Memphis, and the Greenline.

Web

Let’s start at the beginning.  Why did you decide to begin cycling to work?  Had you been cycling around town already at that point?  What was your first ride like?

I had been riding a cheap, crappy old hand-me-down bike for more than a decade. I promised myself if I got a new bike, I would start using it for my commute. I’ve been cycling around town for a while, mainly in Midtown. My first ride to work was so easy I was embarrassed that I hadn’t done it sooner. Even on the old bike, it would’ve been relatively easy.

What were the main concerns or fears you had when you first started cycling?  How has your actual experience on the road compared to your expectations of what it would be like?

I thought it was going to take so much longer than driving. It essentially doubled my commute time, but only from 10 minutes to 20, which is still a very reasonable commute. I also thought the heat and road grime on Southern Avenue would offend my aesthetic sensibilities and make me cranky, but that didn’t happen. I ride early and shower at work, so it’s quiet and pleasant in the morning.

How long is your commute to work?  What route do you follow?  Do you cross or ride on any roads that are particularly well suited for cycling?  Any that are not so well suited?

The commute is less than five miles. I ride on Southern, from Cooper to U of M. I really didn’t expect to like Southern, but the “road diet” makes the bike lanes feel somewhat roomy and comfortable and somewhat safe. There are fewer cars than I thought there would be, even at rush hour. I live less than a block from Cooper, so I look forward to having bike lanes on Cooper. I would like to go from four lanes to two lanes plus a turning lane on Cooper.

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

It’s a 50. I am SO proud of our Greenline. I think it’s a catalyst for many positive things yet to come.

If you could identify any single road where you would like to see bike lanes installed, which one would it be?  How would that make your life as a commuter cyclist better?

I live less than a mile from Overton Square, so I really hope we get some bike lanes on Madison. I tend to ride to restaurants in Cooper Young more often than to restaurants on Madison, even though some of my favorites are on Madison. I know this is simply because the ride is safer and more pleasant. I think bike facilities on Madison would enhance redevelopment efforts there. I’m also looking forward to some lanes connecting midtown to downtown.

Do you run any errands on your bike?  If so, how do you handle cargo?  Have you invested in any panniers?

I use the bike for trips to Easy Way and the Cooper Young farmers market, and also for the occasional beer/lottery ticket run. I have a simple rack over the back tire and I mostly just use a heavy canvas bag and some bungee cords. When I go to the farmers market, I use an old wooden box that fits perfectly on the rack. I might do panniers later on. I had a bungee cord mishap the first day I rode my bike to work, and I had a bruise over my eyebrow for a week. Felt like such a dork.

Where do you go for information about bike commuting?  Are there websites you consult?  What about friends in the area who are experienced cyclists?

I use mapmyride.com to determine distance. I do know several people who are experienced cyclists, and they are all so encouraging! It’s a great sense of community. I feel like I’m in a club.

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

I did the Midnight Classic last year with friends to ring in my birthday, and now that I have a new bike, I feel I can tackle the longer rides. I’m really excited about that.

What kind of bike do you have?  Are there any biking accessories you can’t live without?

I just got a Trek FX. I couldn’t live without the cargo rack. It gives me a good feeling of self-sufficiency to know I can go get groceries, or take a cooler to the Levitt Shell for a concert.

What about drivers in Memphis?  How friendly are they to commuter cyclists?

I’ve heard stories, so I’m very cautious and expect the worst, but I haven’t had any serious problems. People could be a little more thoughtful navigating turns at intersections, or pulling out of parallel parking spaces, but I haven’t seen any outright hostility or recklessness.

Any other stories you’d like to share?

I’d like to say how grateful I am for all the bike advocates currently working to make Memphis more bike-friendly. I moved back to Memphis a year and a half ago from San Diego, where I did a fair amount of cycling. I didn’t expect to catch the fever in Memphis. In fact, when I attended my first Walk Bike Memphis meeting, I was actually motivated to go because I wanted to support making Memphis more walkable. My husband and I bought our house mainly because of the walkability of the neighborhood, which was at the top of the list of priorities. But with all the momentum and excitement around biking here, we’ve both fallen in love with it all over again, and we’re rediscovering Memphis from this new perspective. The work being done now will influence generations of Memphians for years to come. What a legacy!

……

And there you have it, readers.  The first of many interviews with Memphis cyclists.  Are you interested in being interviewed?  Leave me your information in the comment section or email me at doug (at) bikinginmemphis.com.  Thanks!

 

Madison Avenue Bike Lanes Meetings

I’m happy to report that the City of Memphis is sponsoring three meetings about the proposed bike lanes on Madison Avenue.  The first meeting is Wednesday, 29 June, from 5:30 PM to 7:00 PM.  The remaining two meetings are on subsequent Wednesdays, 6 and 13 July.  The topics discussed at the meetings will be different, so plan to attend all three.  All meetings are at Minglewood Hall.  You can sign up for the meetings on Facebook here, here, and here.

Given how badly the first round of discussions about these bike lanes began, I’m hopeful that all interested parties – cyclists, current and future, business owners on Madison, residents, and drivers – can make sincere efforts to wipe clean the slate and start over.

There is reason to believe that this is possible.  In this article from the CA, Wight Boggs, the owner of Huey’s on Madison, indicates that she would support bike lanes on Madison if they are part of an overall renovation of the street and its environs.  I wholeheartedly support this position, and not just because it might make the bike lanes slightly more likely to happen.  The stretch of Madison Avenue in Midtown is dominated by restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues.  The street itself, though, as well as the sidewalks, is in need of some sprucing up.  I think we could significantly increase foot (and bike) traffic on Madison if the street we just a little more pleasing to look at.  I’m really glad to hear of a Madison Avenue business owner (and prominent Memphian) support making bike lanes part of Madison’s future.

Also, Cort over at Fix Memphis posts this picture of the menu at Huey’s.  I don’t know how I never noticed this before, but you can clearly see a caricature of Ms. Boggs riding a penny farthing.  Is this an omen of good things to come?  Let’s hope so.

Weekend Wrap-Up

Welp, I have a crap-ton of links to share with you all this week.  I’m still not yet caught up on my blogging – it’s been a busy few weeks – but here’s a few items that grabbed my attention this week.

First, this guy is a tool.  So much of what he says is typical of the not-cycling-friendly crowd.  First, he portrays us as humorless and arrogant.  Then, he claims to be not only bike-friendly, but a former cyclist himself.  (GAWD if I had a dollar for every time I had heard that I … well, I’d have a few bucks.  But still.)  Finally, he portrays cyclists as being entitled and privileged (and “faddist”).  He then goes to discuss his automobile driving habits for several paragraphs and makes the claim that because he spent untold hours driving slowly around Manhattan looking for parking, that his driving is somehow equivalent to cycling.  Right.  Because most drivers I know drive really effing slow.  But what is most appalling is his claim that cyclists want to “poach on our territory.”  As though the roads belonged only to the drivers and their cars.  Wow, you can’t drive from home to Manhattan and find dozens of empty parking spaces waiting for your gilded steel-belted tires to grace them?  And that’s the fault of cyclists and our bike lanes?  Perhaps population growth has something to do with that?  Also, because he doesn’t see cyclists, they don’t exist.  And when he does notice them, they are doing bad things.  Asshole.

(To get a different read on biking in New York, read this.)

But this guy is completely awesome.  This is my favorite type of cycling activism, or any type of activism really.  One person with a really cool idea who’s working to make it happen.  Kudos to you, my friend.

Also, this guy rocks.  I should use him as an example in my intro-level economics courses about how changes in prices (here, the price of gasoline) can cause people to change their behavior.  It’s all about incentives, baby.

Hats off to the city of Minneapolis for constructing the nation’s first “bicycle freeway.” I can’t wait until that bike facility connects to other bike facilities in nearby parts of the U.S.

Speaking of, did you know that there was once a planned highway system for cyclists?  I didn’t, but I am super excited to know that progress is being made to revive this wonderful idea.  And that Memphis is on the map.  Hooray!

Here’s another cyclist who rocks.  I just started following his blog, but I love his summary of the first year he became carless.

Also, Memphis needs one of these.  Or several of them.  All over town.  Maybe some shaped like forks installed outside restaurants.  Anyone have a wood shop?

That’s all for now.  Thanks for reading.

New Bike/Pedestrian Crossing Signals for the Greenline

Check out this video describing the new bike/pedestrian crossing signals on the Shelby Farms Greenline.

This is really great news for the Greenline.  The signals will be installed at Highland St. and Graham and should improve cyclist and pedestrian safety.

I do hope that the city rolls out a serious public education campaign about how these signals work.  Some aspects of the signals are familiar enough to drivers – the use of yellow to indicate caution or the need to slow down and red to indicate stopping – but the difference between the flashing yellow and solid yellow lights and especially the flashing red and solid red lights will no doubt cause some confusion.  At the very least, the lights will draw more attention to the intersections and the cyclists and walkers using them.

By the way, did you hear that funky ass, honkin’ sax solo at the end of the video?  I’m not at liberty to reveal who played that solo, except that his first name rhymes with “tile” and his last with “cragenshutz.”

Word.

Weekend Wrap-Up

Hi everyone.  I’m about three blog posts behind where I want to be right now – it’s been a busy week for this cyclist – so I’m taking a moment here to wrap up a few random thoughts before I move on to meatier matters.

First, here’s an amazing article about the economic development-implications of bike facilities like the Shelby Farms Greenline.  When I first heard about the plans for the Greenline, years ago, I suspected that we would eventually see new businesses open and existing businesses grow as a result of the increased walking and biking traffic nearby.  It’s good to see my economist instincts confirmed.  I don’t have any empirical evidence behind this assertion, but it seems reasonable to claim that, in terms of local business location and expansion decisions, supply tends to follow demand.  In other words, businesses locate where the people are, and not vice versa.  To anyone who has any concerns about the impact of cyclists on local businesses, this article should put those concerns fully to rest.

Second, if you want more information about what bikes mean for business, check out my friend Matt’s website.  I mean, what a perfect URL.  I can’t believe someone hadn’t already snatched it up.

Speaking of the Greenline, there is both good news and bad news about our beloved rails-to-trails project.  The good news is that the Memphis Metropolitan Planning Commission has applied for $5.5 million worth of federal grants for bike projects.  If awarded, most of the money ($3.3 million) would go to extending the Greenline east to Cordova, a much needed extension which will bring many more suburban residents to Shelby Farms and points west on foot and bike, not in a car.  An additional $1.4 million would go toward bike lanes and facilities in Memphis.  This would create an additional 50 miles of bike lanes, on top of the 55 miles already planned.  (For liberal arts majors, that adds up to 105 miles.  Har har.)  These new lanes would serve to connect the lanes already in the works.  Plus, there’s around $800,000 in the budget to connect the Greenline to Overton Park via Tillman and Braod.  This makes me so happy I can barely stand it.

(Speaking of, there is a design workshop about that connection on Tuesday, 21 June, from 5:30 PM to 7:00 PM, at West Memorials, 2481 Broad Street.  I’ll be there, and I hope you will be too.)

The bad news about the Greenline is that County Commissioner Terry Roland has proposed cutting the $576,000 budget earmark for Shelby Farms.  That’s right – he wants to defund the park at the local level, which would mean a 22% decrease in its budget.  I understand that times are tough budget-wise, but cutting money from one of the shining examples of the best of Memphis and Shelby County is downright ludicrous.  Please take a moment and contact your local commissioner and encourage them to vote against this proposal.  The vote happens tomorrow, so don’t delay.

In happier news, my friend Cort over at Fix Memphis has been doing an amazing job of surveying and writing about the bike racks in Memphis.  Maybe some ambitious cyclist with a GPS device could create a Google Map of the bike racks Cort has written about.  Any takers?

Also, I was supposed to go on a bike ride last week with Ty from Living Loud in Midtown.  I discovered Ty’s blog through a comment he left on my blog and I really like it.  He does a really great job of writing about his adventures in Midtown, both on and off the bike.  And apparently he loves his iced coffee.  I hope to be able to ride with him soon.

And, I got another shout-out from the Memphis Blog about my search for local cyclists to interview.  Thanks!  I’m happy to report that I already have three cyclists lined up for interviews with more responses coming in almost daily.  Thanks to everyone for your willingness to talk with me about biking in Memphis.

Cyclists v. Drivers, or, Class and Transportation

I’ve been really fortunate in my time as a commuter cyclist in Memphis in that I haven’t had one single accident, be it single-vehicle (i.e. me alone) or due to a car driver’s error.  I’ve had a few close calls, one of which I wrote about at the end of this post, but mostly I’ve been fine.  And I’m happy to write that the vast majority of drivers are generally pretty cool and give me the three feet of clearance required by law (and common sense, even if they don’t know they are supposed to), if not the entire lane, when I am biking on streets without bike lanes.

I’ve also become a lot more bold about “taking the lane” and thus requiring passing cars to wait until the next lane (whether the traffic in that lane is moving in the same or the opposite direction) is clear.  Granted, I still make efforts to ride as much as possible on residential streets, even when a more direct route on a four-lane road is available.  Nonetheless, I haven’t really encountered much overt car-on-bike hostility in the past three years.

All of that said, when I saw this article come up on my blog reader, I immediately copied the URL to save for a later read.  I’ve just read the article for the first time today, and I very much appreciate the points raised about how drivers and cyclists interact on the road and how each perceives the other.  I especially agree with the quotation about how the car, especially one that is single-occupant, decreases the interaction on roads and the resulting cooperation that can occur when people make eye contact.  (This is why I always stare directly at the driver of a vehicle waiting to turn left across my lane.  If I see them seeing me, I figure they are less likely to run me over.)  Also, when individuals assume that their behavior is largely anonymous, it further encourages unfriendly driving habits.  (Trolling in a car?  Sounds about right.)

But what really resonated with me are the perceived differences in class between drivers and cyclists, and how these differences vary depending on who is driving the car or riding the bike.  To the wealthy suburbanite driving the SUV, maybe I appear to be a loser who can’t afford to drive (although I’m not, and I can).  To the wage earner just getting by in an old beater, maybe I appear to be an elitist who decision to bike only acts as an impediment in an otherwise hectic day.  (It should be noted that I’ve never actually surveyed any non-cyclists about their perception of cyclists, and that I have had pleasant bike-related conversations with both wealthy suburbanites – which I wrote about here – and wage earners – which I wrote about here.  Also, I’m not trying to lapse into stereotypes about the attitudes of suburbanites or wage-earners, just speculating.)

To be fair, I can see how someone might perceive me to be an elitist when I’m cycling.  My bike is not especially fancy or expensive, but the replacement value of the frame, wheels, tires, and all the bells and whistles I have attached to the frame would easily be $1000 to $1200.  That’s some serious bank when you’re just getting by.  It’s not as though I slowly saved enough money to buy my bike over the course of months or years, or bought a used bike at a pawn shop.  I just went to the bike shop one day and bought the thing outright.  And whenever I see a new toy I can’t live without, I buy it.  End of story.

(As for the “loser” epithet, I’ll just leave that for Hollywood to perpetuate.)

But I think there’s something else at work here.  I’m reminded of a story a fellow Memphis cyclist told me about a friend of his who noticed an increase in anti-cyclist hatred three years ago when gas prices spiked so rapidly over the summer.  Maybe this perceived increase was due to observation bias, that the first act of antagonism only served to increase awareness of future incidents which might have been otherwise ignored in different times.  Whatever the case, the feeling of a lack of control over one’s life can cause one to lash out at the perceived causes of (or beneficiaries of) this feeling.  I’ve heard feelings of frustration and helplessness cited as a potential cause of young men to sympathize with, if not engage in, terrorist activities and organizations.  (No, I am not comparing angry drivers with terrorists, just commenting on how those feelings can drive people to behave badly.)  So the driver, feeling ever more pinched by rising gas prices and with few options other than to drive, sees the cyclist tooling down the street, oblivious to the vagaries of the market for gasoline, and feels his blood begin to boil.  Certainly, it’s not the cyclist’s fault that gas prices are so high – indeed, if more people biked, this would reduce the demand-side pressure which tend to keep fuel prices high – but that doesn’t matter.  What does matter is the perception that this cyclist is “above” the concerns of the common person.

This feeds the belief that cyclists are elitists and exacerbates perceived class differences between cyclists and drivers.  Not only do we have the flexibility to avoid higher gas prices, but we also have fewer concerns about how we look when we arrive at our destinations as well as the option of adjusting our schedules to fit our desire to bike.  It is as though the strictures of regular life don’t apply to this special class of people: ironically, the very ones who have the least amount of protection from injury on the roadways.

The perception that cyclists live by different rules is not helped when we do things like running red lights or failing to signal when we turn.  I know that I might catch a little flack for that – no one should try to blame the victim – especially considering that I myself have done both of those things.  Yep, I’ve run red lights (although very rarely) and failed to signal properly.  So am I a hypocrite?  Yep.  And apparently I’m part of the problem as well.

But let me be clear: regardless of how often cyclists violate the rules of the road (and I have a bit more to say about that in a moment, so be patient) or the extent to which we are regarded as elitists, this in no way justifies any act of violence or aggression against a cyclist.  Ever.

(Plus, as this article reports, research indicates that in many if not most cases, accidents involving a car and a bike are the fault of the driver, not the cyclist.  Side note: the commuter cyclist featured in that article is my new hero.)

Unfortunately, simply because we are the exception on the roads, cyclists will likely continue to be perceived as “elitists” or “the problem.”  It’s been my experience with people who are, shall we say, biased against certain demographic groups, that those people only really notice the members of the group when those members do something inappropriate (or which is perceived as such).  I call this “having a book.”  Here’s how it works:

Imagine an average driver tooling around Memphis on an average day.  Very likely that driver will encounter other drivers engaging in defensive driving practices, as well as some drivers who violate the rules of the road.  In the first case, the well-behaved drivers are barely noticed; in the second, the poorly-behaved drivers, if noticed at all, are usually dismissed with a curt rejoinder and then forgotten.  Driving, being the default mode of transportation, is all but invisible to drivers, whether that driving is respectful or not.

Now imagine that the driver in question happens upon a cyclist fully obeying the rules of the road.  Likely the cyclist will be passed with little thought and soon forgotten.  But if the driver sees a cyclist, say, running a red light?  ”Oh HAIL no!  Just look at that arrogant cyclist who does he think he is elitist spandex sidewalk!!”  Or something like that.

My point is that the driver keeps a book in which s/he records the interaction s/he has with other travelers on the road,  But, only the negative behaviors of the “other” – in this case, the cyclist – are ever recorded in the book.  Poor decisions by the “norm” are not recorded, nor are good decisions by anyone.

The result of this is that some drivers have a biased perception of how cyclists behave on the road, who has the ultimate right to occupy our streets, and who is to blame when cars and bikes collide.  This bias is made easier to maintain by failing to recognize that there is an enormous amount of variation in the cycling community.  If a driver lumps all cyclists into one bucket, then bad behavior by one cyclist applies to all cyclists.  This generalization is not applied to drivers, of course.

So what do we do with this?  Hopefully as more cyclists take the road, we will be recognized by more drivers as legitimate users of the road.  Increased enforcement of existing laws by local law enforcement will also help.  But I think we are looking at a long-term project, where each successive generation becomes ever more likely to support cycling.  Creating more facilities for cyclists can only hasten this trend.

EPIC!

My friend/former student/fellow music afficionado Stacy and I have gone on several bike rides together in the past few months, some with the U of M Cycling Club, others just the two of us.  She happens to live really close to the Greenline, so we’ve biked that together at least once or twice.  Recently we had talked about biking out to Mud Island together from her place near campus, and since she’s moving to Nashville at the end of the week, we decided to make it happen this week.

Just in time for the brutal heat that is a Memphis summer of course.  Actually, it wasn’t too bad, as long as we were biking on bucolic Linden Avenue (the section between Rozelle and Cleveland) or the shadier portions of the Greenline.  But Linden Avenue downtown?  Forget it.

But what’s a little sunburn (and a wicked farmer/cyclist tan) when you have an epic bike-ride-map like this.

Screen shot 2011 06 02 at 8 41 54 AM

And here’s that clickable link you all love.

But seriously, check that out?  I love the wide variety of neighborhoods we passed through, everything from the U of M campus area to the north end of Mud Island.  I got to see parts of Memphis I’ve never seen at all, even from a car, all from the comfort of my Gary Fisher.  It was really great.

As you can perhaps tell, I began my ride from Cooper-Young that morning, then biked down Southern (gotta love those bike lanes) through the East Buntyn community to campus and grabbed Stacy.  From there we biked through the Joffre area, to Chickasaw Gardens, past Tobey Park, behind Christian Brothers University, over East Parkway, and through Midtown on Harbert, Rozelle, then Linden.

Linden took us downtown to Third Street, which we followed north past I-40, where we picked up Second Street and biked north to Mud Island Road, which we followed south to the park.

After chillaxing at the park for a minute and stopping by Miss Cordelia’s for water, we crossed the bridge at Exchange Street and headed south on Second.  We retraced our path through downtown and Midtown but forked left on Humes and headed north to the Greenline, which we followed to High Point Terrace, then south to campus and Stacy’s soon-to-be-former house.  After more rehydration, I headed home.

The total mileage was 32.4 for me (slightly less for my biking buddy) and a whole lot of fun.  Once I get settled into summer school next week I am definitely going to plan more epic morning rides, at least one a week.  Summer heat be damned.