Category: Recreational Cycling

News and Views

I wanted to share a few news bits related to the proposed bike lanes on North Parkway, the subject of last night’s meeting at Rhodes College (and this blog post).

First, here’s a great article from the Commercial Appeal about the meeting.  As the article mentions, the meeting was packed, with many people standing in the aisles.  I forgot to mention this in my post yesterday, but at one point a representative from St. Jude’s Hospital indicated that her employer supports the bike lanes on North Parkway.  Her comments were greeted with applause.

Second, here’s an editorial from a gentleman who works locally at Merck and who is also a regular bike commuter (with a 24-mile round-trip commute no less).  He and I share the opinion that the city needs to regain the momentum that grew last summer when the first round of bike lanes (on Southern Avenue) were announced.

Third, here’s another editorial, from the editors of the CA, about the need for more bike facilities in Memphis.  As many other writers have noted, bike lanes are an amenity that improves the quality of life in a city and draw in young professionals, the very demographic that Memphis is lamentably known for losing.

Lastly, here’s a link to a .pdf file of the slides Kyle Wagenschutz presented last night.  It contains many well-rendered maps of exactly where the bike lanes would lie and, in particular, the current ideas on how to circumvent the rather difficult Watkins overpass.

On a related note, apparently the city is currently striping bike lanes on McLemore Avenue and South Parkway.  How awesome is this!  Does anyone know of an up-to-date map of the current and in-process bike lanes?  Leave me a comment if you do.

Happy riding, my people.  Things are looking up for Memphis.

P.S.  Almost forgot to mention this: thanks to both the Memphis Blog and Fix Memphis for giving a shout-out to my blog.  I always appreciate the good vibes.

Night and Day

I attended the meeting tonight at Rhodes College about the proposed bike lanes on North Parkway and all I have to say is, what a contrast there was between this meeting and the bike lane meeting at Snowden School in February. The crowd tonight was almost uniformly positive about the proposal.  Several people spoke up about the importance of bike lanes in Memphis, in terms of making our city more accessible to non-automobile commuters, healthier, and more appealing to young, college-educated residents.  Numerous comments and questions were greeted with vigorous rounds of applause.

Here’s a picture of the attendees at the event, easily the largest crowd I’ve seen attending a bike lane meeting, courtesy Scott Newstok (photo credit!).

Photo

I have to give props to Kyle Wagenschutz (seen at the podium in this picture), the city’s bike pedestrian coordinator, for his continued support of more bike facilities in Memphis and his leadership at the meeting tonight.  Granted, tonight’s crowd was considerably more friendly than the meeting in February, but still, Kyle did a great job.

Also, City Councilman Reid Hedgepeth was in attendance and deserves credit himself.  Apparently his house abuts the Greenline and in the days before the Greenline was completed, he was very concerned about what the path would mean to his family and property.  He openly admitted that he was wrong in his initial concerns and that his family uses the Greenline frequently.  I always respect someone, particularly a politician, who can admit being wrong in a public forum.

But the award for the most entertaining (and informative) appearance tonight goes to Mr. Charles McVean.  Mr. McVean is a Memphis businessman known for starting a very successful commodity trading business.  He’s also the principal in a firm that manufactures plug-in electric bikes.  Mr. McVean spoke for several minutes on the Harahan Bridge project and absolutely had everyone in stitches.  He is very confident that the bridge will soon have bike lanes added to it, meaning that one could easily bike from Shelby Farms to Arkansas on dedicated bike facilities.  This makes me so happy I don’t even know what to say.

I really hope that the energy and excitement at the meeting tonight carry forward and help to propel Memphis into being the bike-friendly town that it should be.  It is rare to hear an economist say this, but I am optimistic.

What a difference a day makes

Hi everyone.  Thanks so much for visiting my site over the past two days.  I knew that my blog (and me) being featured on I Love Memphis Blog would increase traffic, but I never imagined it would make such a huge difference.

Here’s a screen shot of my Google stats for Thursday morning, just before my profile was posted.

Before

Notice the numbers on the y-axis.  My site visits peaked at just over 120 twice in the last week, both times when I wrote something about the bike lanes on Madison.  There was a smaller peak in early April, I think when the Hightailers promoted my blog in an email.  (Thanks!)

After

But look at my stats as of this morning. Continue reading

… one person at a time

I’m happy to report that the pile of work under which I’ve been buried for the past few weeks is slowly getting smaller. If everything goes according to plan, I’ll be able to finish grading exams (from two weeks ago) some time today or tomorrow morning, plus clean my share of the house, put away laundry and plan my next week, such that I have time to spend all Monday afternoon and evening in the yard.  You know you’ve been busy when eight hours of pulling weeds and clearing brush sounds like fun. Continue reading

Bike Lanes on Madison: Update

Hi everyone.  I’ve written recently about the need for action on the proposed bike lanes on Madison Avenue. Unfortunately, I don’t have any update beyond reporting that Mayor Wharton still hasn’t made a decision.  Apparently he’s received reports on the impact of bike lanes on Madison, and hopefully he’ll make a decision soon, but for now, all we can do is write letters and wait.

If you haven’t yet written one, please do so.  Here’s some information you should know about the proposed lanes and their impact. Continue reading

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

Bicycle Facilities Meeting: 23 March 2011

After skipping the second in the series of meetings about plans for biking and pedestrian facilities in Memphis – the one that actually focussed on bike lanes, no less – I attended the third and final meeting this week.  Like the first two it was hosted by the Church Health Center and took place on Wednesday, 23 March.

The meeting was sparsely attended compared to the first one; mostly it was the “true believers” (people who already bike around town) and several representatives from the Memphis MPO, including the inimitable Kyle Wagenschutz, the city’s bike/pedestrian coordinator.  There was no presentation, just a large number of colorful and informative maps showing the proposed and scheduled bike facilities around the area.

I was heartened to see many such facilities in Midtown, where I live, as well as in north and south Memphis, areas long held in the grips of poverty and underemployment.  While I most certainly want every major road in Midtown to be blanketed in bike lanes (especially Madison Avenue!), I don’t want these plans to be a Midtown-only effort.  Considering the extent to which poverty correlates with negative health outcomes, the low-income neighborhoods in Memphis should very much be the beneficiaries of any and all facilities which encourage exercise.

What remains to be seen is what will actually happen.  From looking at the maps, at least some of the proposed facilities appear to be somewhat “pie in the sky” in ambition.  Don’t get me wrong: I would love to see some sort of trail system running along Nonconnah Creek south of Memphis and connecting with the Germantown bike facilities, the Wolf River trail system, and indirectly to the Shelby Farms Greenline, but where the funding (and political muscle) comes from is unknown at this time.  Whatever the case, I am overjoyed to see so many proposed biking and walking facilities in and around Memphis.  It’s really heartening to see how quickly this city has turned around.  I can only imagine what it has been like for the dozens of people who’ve been advocating for better facilities (hell, any facilities) for walkers and bikers in Memphis for years.

One piece of good news to share: after originally coming out against the proposed bike lanes on Madison Avenue, Molly’s La Casita has switched teams and is now supporting bike lanes!  Yay Molly’s!!  Now if only Huey’s and Mercury Valet Cleaners would end their senseless opposition.

Almost forgot

In my most recent post, about the bike-lane meeting, I forgot to mention that I had a pretty epic biking day that day.  I biked from home to school, then from campus out to Shelby Farms on the Greenline and back (another group bike ride with the UM Cycling Club), then from campus to Otherlands, then from Otherlands to the Snowden School for the meeting, then from Snowden home.  Here’s a screenshot of my day.

And here’s a link to an interactive map.

Pretty awesome, huh?  I biked for a total of 25.2 miles that day.  My average speed was a respectable 10.4 MPH, and my peak was 20.8 MPH.  A good chunk of the trip was on the Greenline, but most of those miles were commuter miles, which I love.