My response to John Branston

Good evening Mr. Branston,

I just finished reading your article in the Memphis Flyer about the MPO’s plan for our region.  My response follows.

No one should be afraid of planning.  Memphis, as you likely know, was originally a planned city.  (Please click here for a map of the original plans for downtown Memphis.)  I was in Washington, DC over the weekend and was impressed by its beauty and livability, much of which we can credit to its being a planned city as well.  All aspects of our lives require planning.  A household budget is nothing more than a financial plan, one that covers goals for spending, saving, and debt reduction.  The extent to which that plan is successful depends on how closely the members of a household adhere to its recommendations.

My employer, the University of Memphis, has many plans for the future of its campus and the broader community.  One goal is to improve the Highland Street corridor by attracting new businesses, redeveloping underused land, and making that avenue the true entrance to the University.  Indeed, my school also has an excellent Department of City and Regional Planning, one of whose graduates, Kyle Wagenschutz, is now the City’s first Bike/Pedestrian coordinator.  We should be proud of that department for producing such a capable and successful city employee.

Planning, above all, requires coordination.  In order for our financial goals to be met, my wife and I must coordinate our spending behavior.  We also try to coordinate our goals with conditions within broader financial markets, albeit without much success lately.  (Bank of America, you have been warned.)

Perhaps you should ask military leaders what they think about plans.  Our armed forces are known for producing all manner of plans, both small and grand in scale.  Indeed, one could regard the Allied invasion of Normandy as the execution of a particularly bold plan, although with many more guns and explosions that the MPO’s plan.

Speaking of explosions, you are correct that the bike lanes on Madison Avenue incited quite a bit of controversy, much of which was unnecessary.  As I wrote in a recent blog post, once local businesses see that the installation of bike lanes did not cause the death of the commercial activity on that street, we will all breathe a big sigh of relief.  And of course, we have the redevelopment of Overton Square to look forward to.  We need not expect “1,000 more Madison Avenues,” unless we want all other commercial corridors in Memphis to be as successful as I know Madison soon will be.  Interestingly, Loeb Properties seems to share my opinion.

What plans like those produced by the MPO allow us as a region to do three things.  The first is to recognize the resources we have at our disposal, the second to acknowledge what limitations we face, and the third and most important is to figure out what is the best way to put those resources to productive use.  Local government will inevitably play a role in this, but so will many other rational economic agents, such as developers, households, businesses, workers, commuters, cyclists, pedestrians, and other members of the community.  What the MPO’s plan represents is not a hard and fast set of rules; the MPO itself has little in the way of “teeth” it can use for enforcement.  Rather, the plan contains a vision for what our region can, and should, look like in the future. And that plan is explicit that our streets should be made safe for all users: drivers, cyclists, the disabled, and pedestrians.  I believe that by presenting the best plan possible, the MPO stands the best chance of eliciting “buy-in” by all residents of the Memphis metropolitan area.  And I believe that this plan can and will do just that.

Whether the MPO’s plan is successful depends on the coordination between local governments and all users of land and roads in the area.  This is not the “government [as a] teacher and motivator.”  This is how thriving cities are made.  Ever been to Houston, Texas?  That’s a city without a plan, indeed, without even any zoning restrictions.  Sure, it’s big, but big in terms of sprawl, not big in terms of ideas.

You are correct: it is up to the individual to decide how best to act.  And I do believe that the government should involve itself as little as possible in many of those decisions.  But just as our federal government has carved out space via the First Amendment for journalists such as yourself to produce such (ahem) thoughtful commentary as in your recent column, our local governments must carve out space for our roads to be safely used by all travelers, be they on foot, in a wheelchair, on a bike, or in a car.  The way that that is done is via the installation of bike lanes and curb cuts, the improvement of sidewalks, and the creation of proper signage which clearly delineates who may be where and when.  We need our city to work for all of us, not just drivers.

In closing, I will note that while I am an employee of the University of Memphis (a proud one at that), I am not writing this on behalf of anyone but me.  This semester I am teaching a course on Urban Economics, one that discusses many of the issues covered in the MPO’s plan.  In fact, Kyle Wagenschutz himself was kind enough to visit my class as a guest lecturer and talk about the economics of biking.  (I hereby bestow upon Kyle an honorary PhD in Awesomeness.)  I am fairly knowledgeable about these issues, both from a professorial and a personal perspective.  You see, I am also a regularly bike commuter to campus and other points around town.  And I know what it means to have bike lanes available to me.  The lanes on Southern Avenue make my commute so much safer and enjoyable, and not just to me, but to the drivers with whom I share the road.  I have my lane, and they have theirs.

Sir, you have my best wishes for a happy and warm holiday weekend.  I also hope that you begin riding your bike more than “once in a while.”  Memphis is becoming quite the bike-friendly city.  Really, you have no idea what you’re missing.

Best regards,

Doug Campbell

www.bikinginmemphis.com

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.

 

 

 

 

Wednesday’s commute

Hi everyone.  I would be remiss in beginning this post to ignore the fact that I’ve barely posted anything at all in the past month, save for my recent profile of local cyclist Greg Siskind. Suffice to say that October was an extraordinarily busy month.  Between three weekend trips, one of which was a conference, a due date for a paper to be presented at another conference, midterms, a presentation at a housing summit, and a two-day sustainability event on campus, numerous meetings with students, plus my normal work load, I was one busy guy.  I did manage to rack up many miles on my bike, but since I stopped tracking my miles and routes that month – no point in doing so if I don’t have time to write about them – I don’t have many stories to share.

Except that in the intervening days, autumn has fully occupied Memphis and rendered my daily commute so much more pleasant.  Biking when the outside temperature is in the 50s is nearly ideal; I don’t have to don my full winter kit, but with the addition of an Icebreaker long-sleeved shirt and a shell, I can comfortably bike to campus while barely breaking a sweat.  I know that these days are small in number – December looms on the horizon – but I am enjoying them as much as I can for the time being.

Wednesday was a fine day to ride my bike around Memphis.  My first appointment of the day was not until noon, so I had time to run an errand before departing for campus.  Here’s a picture of the day that greeted me when I left my house.

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I know … ridiculously beautiful, right?  I love how that one wispy cloud looks like a flag trailing from the unused light-pole near my driveway.

After snapping this pic, I biked west to Methodist University Hospital.  I can’t remember if I mentioned this in a previous blog post, but on 1 September – the day after my 39th birthday no less – I found myself in the emergency room at the aforementioned hospital for what I was convinced was appendicitis.  Fortunately (I guess) I was wrong, and I was sent home with some (lovely) painkillers and a prescription to drink lots of water and call my doctor if anything aberrant happened.  Nothing did, and so the event has faded into the fortunately-thin memories of my times with emergency care.

But that day I had to pick up some medical records for insurance purposes, so I headed to the medical district on the familiar and fabled Linden Avenue route.  After leaving the hospital, I headed east to campus, arriving just in time to meet my noon appointment.

After my last appointment of the day I changed into my cycling gear and biked home.  Altogether, it was a lovely and uneventful day on my bike.  Here’s a map.

Screen shot 2011 11 09 at 10 32 23 PM

You’ll note that I did not follow the same route to the hospital as I did heading from there to campus.  Nor did I follow the same route from campus to my home as I did to campus.  For whatever reason, I do enjoy varying my commutes.

In the coming days, I plan to write a post or two about some of the events that passed by during my brief (and unplanned) hiatus from writing.  First among them … the bike lanes on Madison.  I guess I’m not done writing about them after all.

As always, thanks for reading.  And riding.

 

November Cyclist of the Month: Greg Siskind

Hi everyone.  As promised, I am pleased to present to you Mr. November, the cyclist of the month, Greg Siskind.  Greg is an attorney with Siskind Susser, a local law practice that specializes in immigration law.  He’s also a regular bike commuter and a road cyclist, having participated in the recent Bluff City Blues 100 and two Olympic-distance triathlons in the past year.  (That earns a triple “wow” from us here at Biking in Memphis.)  Read on to hear what Greg has to say about being a bike commuter in Memphis.

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1.  I understand that you bike to work.  Tell me a bit about your commute and what it’s been like as a commuter cyclist.

I’ve been wanting to bike commute for a while, but given the distance of my commute and the nature of my work, I knew that without a shower/locker set up, bike commuting wouldn’t work for me. So I decided to add them at our office. The cost was going to run more than $11,000 so I had to wait a while to find the funds, but we did and after six weeks of construction earlier this year, we had what we needed for people to bike commute to the office.

I started riding to work in May and have ridden the 15-mile round-trip nearly every day. I drive to the office once a week each weekend to empty out my locker and swap out my work clothes.

Commuting by bike has really been a treat. First, I’ve designed a route that is through quiet neighborhoods and a sizable portion is painted with bike lanes. There are only three traffic lights and I’ve had no problems with cars. I also ride with my iPhone mounted to my handlebar and use the i.Bicycle GPS app so I can track my speed and distance and see me moving on a map along the route.

I have recently been switching things up for colder weather riding. I’ve been stocking up on fall and winter cycling clothes for the past several months. Last year, I did a fair amount of recreational riding in the winter so had some clothes, but now I’m set for five days a week. It’s a bit confusing right now because it can be cold in the morning and in the 70s in the afternoon. So I sometimes have to ride in with an extra set of clothes in my back pack. For rain, I have a covering for my back pack that keeps everything dry. We’ll see how I do with ice.

I now have less sunlight to work with and I like to get to the office early. So I’ve just mounted a pretty powerful headlight.  It’s a Niterider MiNewt 250 Lumens Cordless Rechargeable LI-ion LED Headlight and it makes it really easy to see what’s ahead of me when it’s dark out. I will be replacing my back light with something similar.  I also ride in the dark with a fluorescent helmet cover that hopefully makes me pretty visible to drivers.

If I do have any gripes, it might be the fact that my back pack is heavy. I ride with my MacBook Pro, an iPad and usually papers I take home for work I may be doing in the evening. I’m thinking about switching back to using my old hybrid bike which as a rack and panniers.

2.  Have you always been a cyclist or, like many people, did you go through a period when you gave up biking in favor of driving a car?  If so, what brought you back to the bike?

Not counting the neighborhood biking I did as a kid, I’ve been occasionally cycling for fitness for more than 20 years. But I only got serious about it three years ago. After law school in 1990, I bought a Bianchi hybrid bike and cycled in western Washington, British Columbia and Alberta for a couple of weeks. And I participated in a couple of triathlons in the early 90s. Then I mainly rode only a few times a year for the better part of two decades.  In 2008, I started riding everyday to get fit and mainly rode on the Germantown Greenway and in Shelby Farms.  Then I joined the Memphis Hightailers, bought a decent road bike and started riding all over Memphis.

3.  Where do you most like to bike around town?  Are there any favorite routes you have?

For my recreational riding, I like to head east and ride out in Lakeland, Rossville, Oakland and the other small towns that surround Memphis. I also like heading north to Shelby Forest. In town, I enjoy Shelby Farms – the Green Line, Greenways, experimental farm area, etc.

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

10. I love the Greenline and am really thankful it has gotten the community interested in cycling. I tend to use it for biking on slower rides and also run on it. Last winter, I enjoyed faster riding when it was cold out and no one was out. I’m looking forward to the connections developing with new bike lanes and better connected suburban greenways.

5.  Madison Avenue is currently being repaved and prepared for the installation of bike lanes.  What are your thoughts on the controversy that surrounded these lanes?

I think the lanes are important both for the actual impact they’ll have on bike commuting by opening a route to downtown and also because of the statement the bicycling community made that our concerns are important and we have a right to safe roads. I tried to do my part – writing letters to the Mayor and council members as well as sitting down with a key business owner on Madison Avenue and talking about our concerns. I don’t know if I changed any minds, but participating in the discussion was a valuable experience nonetheless.

6.  If you woke up one morning as the mayor of Memphis, what would you do in that day to further the cause of making Memphis a more bike-friendly town?

I’d love to see a bike share program here. I travel a lot and am in awe of the programs recently introduced in Paris and London. DC now has an impressive program and New York is about to come online. Smaller cities are rolling out similar programs – even Chattanooga.

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

I have not done much in the way of running errands on my bike, but I do have a bike with a rack and panniers (albeit 20 year old panniers). I’m sure the newer ones have more bells and whistles and I’ll probably check out the options soon.

8.  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 your blog for one. It’s really excellent for finding out about what’s happening in the area and the links are good. I also view a few other sites like www.bikecommuters.com and read Bob Mionske’s columns on bicycling and the law. Bicycling Magazine and the League of American Cyclists Magazine are both helpful.

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

I enjoy going on the group rides offered by the Hightailers and have ridden just about everywhere in the metro area. When I travel, I like to rent a road bike and explore. This year, I did some nice cycling in Paris, Oklahoma, San Diego, Orlando and Puerto Vallarta. I’m getting ready to buy a Brompton folding bike that is small enough to fit in luggage so I can do more cycling in new places.

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

The main bike I ride is a Giant Defy 3. As I noted above, since I sometimes ride in the dark, good lighting is key and I’ve put on a high end front light and am about to add a high end tail light. I have an iPhone bike mount and a new dual water bottle rack behind my saddle that also has a spot to screw in extra CO2 cartridges. And I have a Bento box on the top tube where I keep my sunglasses, dog pepper spray (I haven’t had to use it, fortunately), and a spare battery to recharge my phone if need be. I keep my tools in a cloth case that is shaped like a water bottle and fits in my bottle rack. I also have a Cannondale mountain bike and a Bianchi hybrid if I feel like riding off road.

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

Surprisingly friendly. I have only had a few unpleasant encounters after a lot of time on my bike. People seem to respond well when they see you’re trying to obey the laws, be courteous and signal what you’re about to do. A lot of people probably recognize me now given my riding to and from work is usually around the same time each day. I think when people see the backpack and know I’m commuting, they try to cut me some slack.

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

The only thing I’d like to add is how impressed I am by the progress Memphis has made in the last few years in cycling. Going from one of the worst places to ride to a community that is bike friendly in a matter of such a short period of time is not easy and it’s a credit to a lot of activists in the community, some forward thinking local organizations and several leaders like Mayor Wharton. Kyle Wagenschutz, Anthony Siracusa, and Mark Hicks are all terrific and deserve a special shout out.

Agreed 100% Greg, especially on that last point.  Memphis is really lucky to have so many people committed to making our fine city more biking-friendly.  Thanks for the props on my blog and for the interview.

 

 

 

I’m back

My people.  It’s been quite a while since I’ve written about, well, much of anything, other than the effects of academic early intervention programs on student performance, but that’s another story.  Suffice to say that I have greatly missed writing about my daily exploits and experiences as a bike commuter in our fair city and that in the coming days, I will be writing more. Beginning tomorrow in fact, when I debut the November cyclist of the month …

Success

I just want to say thanks to everyone who helped make Bike-to-Campus Day a success.  Ty and Cort – thanks for helping me publicize the event.  Thanks to all the Memphis bike shops who displayed posters: Victory Bicycle Studio, the Peddler Bike Shop, Outdoors Inc., and Midtown Bike Company.  And a special thanks to the Peddler for donating the water bottles.  They were a big hit.

And a huge thanks to everyone who rode today.  I really appreciate everyone’s support.  As soon as I get some pictures, I’ll post them.  Cheers.

Bike-to-Campus Day update

This week has been super busy – like 12-14 hour days every day, including weekends – but I wanted to jot a quick note about Bike-to-Campus Day.  First, thanks to everyone who has helped spread the word.  Cort from Fix Memphis is mapping bike-friendly routes to campus.  Ty from Living Loud in Midtown mentions it in almost every blog post.  Jen from The Memphis Blog talked it up yesterday.  And the good people at Victory Bicycle Studio posted about it on their facebook page.

Also, special thanks to the Peddler Bike Shop for donating the free-while-they-last water bottles.

Here’s the event listing on facebook.  Hope to see you there.

Spreading the word

I had a proper biking adventure over the past few days.  The goal: to deliver posters to the four bike shops in in-town Memphis to spread the word about Bike-to-Campus Day, which is next week.  Here’s what happened.

On Saturday I biked from home to campus to pick up the posters.  I then biked to the Peddler on Highland to deliver my first set of posters.  There I ran into Cort and we chatted for a minute before I headed off to my next destination: Outdoors Incorporated on Union.

I caught a lucky light at Belvedere and Union and was able to (hurriedly) bike east on Union for half a block before I turned into the parking lot.  I dropped off another set of posters before heading off again to my next (and final) destination of the day: Otherlands Coffee Bar on Cooper.

There I dropped off my last two sets of posters for the day.  I had hoped to make it downtown to Midtown Bike Company and to Victory Bicycle Studio in my neighborhood that day, but I ran out of time.

I took care of the first of those two errands this morning.  Around 9:30 this morning I headed east on Southern toward downtown, arriving at Midtown Bikes around 10:00 AM.  I left two posters with Daniel, the owner, and then biked to campus for a day at the office.  I was going to leave two posters at Victory this afternoon but forgot that they are closed on Monday.  Boo, my memory.  I’ll hit them up on Wednesday.

Here’s the map of combined rides on Saturday and today.

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Pretty hot, huh?  And here’s a clickable link to the same.

Altogether I logged 28.3 miles on my bike in just over two hours.  Traffic was generally very manageable and I had only one close call.  Yes, cars should yield the right-of-way to bikes when leaving a stop sign.  Otherwise, skidding might happen.  Just sayin’.

Anyway, thanks for reading.  I hope to see you all at Bike-to-Campus day.  Here’s a poster for the event.  Cheers.

Bike to campus poster 0911

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.

Mid-week review

Hi people.  Today was a fucking lovely day to be biking in Memphis.  The weather this morning was slightly chilled, but not too bad, and this afternoon was unbeatable.  At one point, as I was turning right on Madison from McLean, I could have sworn I was in Seattle.

I’ve been wearing my knee warmers, which I purchased from the Peddler a few weeks ago, on my morning commutes; they seem to be helping.  Hal recommended that I wear them whenever the temperature drops below 70ºF, which seemed a little extreme at first.  But he explained that the area under the kneecap gets very little warming blood and as a result the knee is prone to injury in cold weather.  Given that I was out of commission for several weeks in January due to an overly-ambitious cold-weather ride on the Greenline, I am taking much better care of my knees.  Can’t genuflect without them, you know.

Interbike 2011 was last week, and while I don’t see myself heading out for such a huge bike expo anytime soon, it’s nice to see reports from there on the other biking blogs I read.  For example, check out this absolutely sick set of bike tire chains from Slipnot Traction.  I mean, how cool is that?  Makes me want to move someone snowy.

And, have a gander at these ridonkulous lights from LED by LITE.  I’ve long wanted turn signals for my bike, and you know my love of bike lights (four rear, two front and counting).  This might be the solution that I’ve been dreaming about.

Lastly, check out this clothes-folding system for commuter cyclists.  I’ve never been particularly worried about having wrinkled clothes – that’s an academic for you! – but I might kludge my own version of this for use on my commutes.

Hey, are you a real cyclist?  I guess I am.

It’s comforting to know that Memphis is not alone in having a backlash against bike lanes.  I mean, Portland of all places?  I can sympathize with the complaints about gentrification.  Too many neighborhoods have been bifurcated or simply torn down in the name of “progress.”  Most familiar-sounding quote from the article?

“There was the feeling that the city just rolled through with this.”

Des Moines also suffers from some anti-bike lane paranoia.  But I hear it’s so flat out there …

I admit, sometimes I lose a little steam with my blogging.  Being so busy preparing for my new job plus teaching almost 300 students and keeping up with all my job responsibilities (not to mention housework) can be a little daunting.  So it’s always great to get a little love, like I did today on the facebooks.

Screen shot 2011 09 21 at 7 44 33 PM

I’ve always favored world domination of any sort, but bicycle world domination has to be the best.  Thanks for the shout-out, Matt.  Maybe my blog will be mentioned in an article like that someday.

What made my day earlier this week was being recommended by Clark over at Victory Bicycle Studio for inclusion in a photo series by local photographer and bike mechanic Nathan Berry.  Nathan is taking pictures of local cyclists in their everyday street clothes in an effort to demystify cycling.  I really like the idea and was happy to sit for some pictures.  The project will culminate in an art opening on 14 October in the Broad Street neighborhood.  Sadly, I’ll be out of town for the event, but I’m really honored to have been cited by Clark as a prominent local cyclist.  I guess it goes to show what hundreds of miles biking and a blog can do for you.

The good people over at Greater Memphis Greenline posted this map of all the multi-use trails around town.  I had no idea there were so many such facilities scattered around town.  I can’t wait for the day when they connect with one another seamlessly.  And for a good chuckle, zoom in on the U of M campus.  We are positively dense with biking possibilities apparently.

Agreed.

Speaking of the Greenline, the second in the series of I Love Memphis murals, envisioned by Kerry Crawford of the awesome I Love Memphis blog is being installed even as we speak on our favorite rails-to-trails facility.  I loved the first such mural, located in my neighborhood as it is, and I’m really excited about the new one.  Can’t wait to bike by it and take a few pictures.

Yes, please!

Q: Are bikes more environmentally friendly than cars?  (I mean, do you really have to ask that question?)  A: Yes, they are.  By a mile.

More lighted awesomeness.  Expensive, but still awesome.  Damn my budget constraint!

I can’t say that I’ve ever really wanted to take a tall bike on my daily commute, but this video by the good people at Live from Memphis just might change my mind.

Speaking of Live from Memphis, go here to see their pictures from the recent Midnight Classic.

Well, I didn’t make the list of the 50 most influential bike bloggers this year, but there’s always next year.  Still, check out the list for some gems.  I particularly love Commute by Bike and Bike Commuters, for obvious reasons.

Do I really need more lights?  Oh, why not.  They’re so inexpensive!

Yes, please (part two)!

80% bike network coverage?  It looks like Hoboken is giving Portland a run for its money.  Although it appears that Portland is safe for the time being.  Notable fact from the article? Hoboken’s City Council approved these efforts unanimously. You listening, Memphis City Council?

Well, what started out as a short mid-week post has turned into a massive purge of all the biking-related links I’ve been saving over the past few weeks.  Look for another post soon.  Until then, keep biking in Memphis.