Tagged: bike commuting

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.

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!

 

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.

Missed another one!

You: female, blond hair, mid-twenties, biking north on Cooper around 4:30 PM on Saturday, 25 June.  You had an awesome cargo trailer (I think it was yellow), which tells me you are a serious bike commuter.

Me: fellow cyclist, blogger, die-hard commuter, ISO people to interview for my blog.

Sound familiar?  Leave a comment or email me at doug (at) bikinginmemphis.com.

It’s a long shot, but …

I’m looking for the guy who passed me on Southern yesterday afternoon, late in the afternoon, just past Highland.  To the guy: You were riding a black and white mountain bike – I couldn’t get a look at the make or model – wearing white plaid shorts, a dark t-shirt, and a white back-pack.  You complimented me on my panniers as you passed and I said thanks.  Then you sped off, leaving me in the dust.  (Apparently I need to work on my cadence.)

Anyway, the reason I want to talk to you – and lots of other commuter cyclists in Memphis – is that in July I’m starting a new feature on my blog.  Once a month or so I plan to interview a fellow bike commuter in Memphis about what it’s like to be a bike commuter in Memphis.  I’m interested in talking to people of all kinds, new cyclists and experienced ones, in-town and suburban, old and young … you get the idea.

So, if you’re interested in being interviewed, leave me a message in the comments.  I already have my July interviewee lined up, but after that I am wide open.

Thanks!

Today’s commute, or, An open letter to the woman who yelled at me in Chickasaw Gardens

Don’t worry – I’ll stop with the pretentious post titles soon.  But I had an interesting encounter today (several, actually) that I wanted to write about.  So here goes.

Dear woman who yelled at me in Chickasaw Gardens,

As you might have guessed from the way I turned my head when you yelled at me, I did hear you.  And I understand your concerns.  At least, I think I do.  I’m really just guessing at what those concerns are.

But whatever the case, when you yelled “That’s a stop sign!” or something like that, I heard what you said.  And I think I understand where you’re coming from.  After all, it is a nice, quiet neighborhood, Chickasaw Gardens.  And certainly, many cyclists use your neighborhood as a short-cut – a rather circuitous one at that – to get from east Memphis to points in Midtown or downtown.  Heck, if I had a dollar for every time I’d biked through your neighborhood, I could afford one of these.

Or maybe not.  But you get my point.  I bike through Chickasaw Gardens a lot, as do many of my bike-commuting or sport-biking comrades.  And who could blame us?  The lovely winding streets, the shade from the many mature trees, the lack of aggressive automobile traffic … it’s practically a cyclist’s heaven, you know?

Also, please forgive me for assuming that you live in Chickasaw Gardens.  I never really got a good look at you or your car (if I had to guess, I would say that you were driving a late model Toyota Camry, which is great, as I used to drive a Camry myself, although an older model that was a compact car, as opposed to the newer mid-size version), but given that you turned right from Arawata Lane onto Lombard Road, which doesn’t lead to any exits from the neighborhood in that direction, I assumed that you were a resident of the neighborhood.  But maybe you were just visiting a friend and felt particularly offended when I sailed through the stop sign at that intersection, when our paths diverged, as I turned left on Lombard on continued on to S. Fenwick Road.

OK, you’re right … that wasn’t the first stop sign I sailed through.  A few blocks back, at the intersection of E. Chickasaw Parkway and W. Goodwyn Street … yeah, I completed pwned that.  But the two SUVs that were approaching from both directions on the cross street made it to the stop signs well after I did, and given the PITA that is coming to a full stop and resuming one’s ride, I felt it OK to slow a bit and continue riding.  Was that rude?  Sorry if it was.

But look … I completely get where you’re coming from.  I totally ignored those stop signs.  Broke the law.  Deserved a ticket really.  Although it would probably not make you happy to know that if I had gotten a ticket for running those stop signs, I totally would have scanned it and posted the image on my blog.  It would have been awesome.  In fact, that only thing better would have been if I had gotten a speeding ticket.  On my bike!  How cool would that have been?!  Only if it was not in a school zone, of course.

Plus, we cyclists are always out there demanding special rights and privileges and all that, right?  Like our own lanes, signals, and the right to ride in shared lanes with you and other drivers.  Apparently we fully expect to be treated as equals on the road, but then one of us goes off and flagrantly violates the law!  How offensive is that?!

Except that it’s not.  I mean, really?  Am I a car?  Do I weigh 2000+ pounds?  Does it take me 27 feet to stop if I am biking at a comfortable 10 MPH?  Could I kill someone if I collided with them at that speed?

The answer to the above questions, expect maybe the last one, can only be no.  And here’s the difficult things to understand: bicycles are not cars.  Cyclists are not drivers.  It’s just different.  We’re just different.  So when a cyclist runs a stop sign, it’s just not the same as when a car does the same.

Don’t believe me?  Have a look at this article.  OK, yeah … I don’t agree with everything she wrote either.  But the point remains.  As much as cyclists demand equal rights on the roads, as we very well should, we’re not cars.  Fully loaded, with all the crap I tend to carry on any given day, my bike and I probably weigh about 10% of what you and your car does.  Plus, I don’t have any blind spots.  Nor does my bike insulate me from the sounds around me like your car does.

In short, biking is much safer for everyone except the cyclist.  Plus, there’s the issue of momentum.  If you, in your car, approach a stop sign, come to a complete stop, then proceed to your destination, the only extra effort required by you to do all of this is to gently press on one pedal or another.  For a cyclist, coming to a complete stop and then resuming a normal speed is much more taxing.

But if you don’t believe, ask your friends who bike around town.  You know, those weird people who hog the food station at cocktail parties – gotta replace those calories somehow – and who seem abnormally aware of local roads and traffic.  We’re good people, I promise.  Maybe a bit insular, but hey, that’s a scene for you.

In summation, please don’t think that I’m pissed at you for your comment.  I’m very protective of my neighborhood as apparently you are too.  I just hope we can get along and share the roads.

Would you like a little insight as to what it means to be a commuter cyclist?  Here’s a link to a map of my ride today.  It’s kind of pretty, isn’t it?  The loop that I followed?  From my home to my job, then to the Poplar Plaza shopping center, then to Otherlands Coffee for a meeting, then home again?  Did you ever map out your driving like I do my biking? You should give that a try sometime.  It’s very informative.

Today’s commute, or, Why we need bike lanes on Madison Avenue

Well, I had planned to watch a movie tonight, but unfortunately the DVD I rented was scratched to the point that my laptop couldn’t read it.  So I will blog instead.

As I’ve written before, this is the first year when I’ve attempted to be a true year-round cyclist.  Rather than punking out during the winter and summer months, I’ve soldiered on and biked around town in some rather difficult conditions.

Biking during the months of cold weather presents its own challenges, staying warm chief among them.  But biking in the summer is another matter entirely.  During winter, all one really needs to stay warm and comfortable (and protected from the elements) is to don another layer of clothing (most cotton garments don’t count here).  But during the hottest parts of the year … well … there are only so many layers of clothing one can remove while maintaining some standard of decorum.

I must confess though that biking in the summer months is not as bad as I would have thought.  Yes, it is hot as balls outside these days.  But given that I average around 12 MPH when I ride around town, I have a near constant breeze acting as a natural cooling agent.  In fact, for at least the first mile or two of my rides, the experience is really quite pleasant, even when I begin my biking day in the late hours of the morning.  Of course, late afternoon is another matter entirely.

Regardless, I’ve been keeping to my word.  Here’s a screenshot of my bike ride from earlier today.

Screen shot 2011 06 08 at 11 40 53 PM

And here’s a link to a clickable map.  Enjoy.

Basically, I biked from home to work, then on a few errands in Midtown, then back home again.  At times the heat was unpleasant, but never was it overpowering.

But what was unpleasant was my experience biking on Madison.  I’ve written about the need for bike lanes on that road more times than I care to remember, and today’s experience further solidified in my mind the need for such facilities.

I was biking east on Madison this afternoon, just where the road slopes downhill from McLean and approaches Cooper Street.  For at least some of that stretch of Madison, there is a shoulder/parking lane that is wide enough to accommodate a cyclist.  That is where I prefer to bike on that section of Madison, for obvious reasons.  But given that bikes and cars are legally obligated to share the road, I shouldn’t have felt bad about taking a lane.

But apparently the drivers on the road felt otherwise.  For at least a block I kept looking over my left shoulder for a break in traffic where I could rejoin the flow of vehicles approaching Cooper.  But no one would let me in.  At one point some jackwagon in a pickup truck gave me the evil eye for trying to enter traffic just as he was passing me, and then flipped me off as he passed.  Classy, guy … really classy.

I could just say whatever and be done with it.  I made it home safe, right?  But when an experienced commuter cyclist like me feels intimidated by the behavior of drivers, you get an idea of the barriers to entry that many marginal cyclists face.  And if we are ever going to make Memphis a better city, we have to lower those barriers and make those marginal cyclists feel comfortable.  Bike lanes are one easy way to make that happen, but are by means the only way.

 

 

Last Week’s Rides

Now that spring semester is finished and summer term has yet to begin, my riding has become much more sporadic of late.  As I’ve said before, I am mostly a commuter cyclist, and if I can work from home during the day and avoid visiting my office on campus, I am happy to do so, even though that means fewer miles on my bike.  But I managed to get in some good rides last week.

On Tuesday (24 May) I biked from home to Rhodes College for the meeting about bike lanes on North Parkway.  I’ve written about this meeting before, but not about the ride itself.  Here’s a map of my ride that day.

From home to Rhodes

And here’s a clickable link to the same map.  For whatever reason, I always enjoy taking a different route home than I do to my initial destination.  That day, I had the pleasure of biking home from the meeting for a time with Anthony and Matt – if you are a member of the Memphis cycling community, you know who I’m talking about – before they parted ways to have dinner.  I continued home for an evening of Frontline and Lenny’s.  Such is domestic bliss.

On Wednesday, I had few errands to run, plus quite a few things to get done around the house (I volunteered to make dinner that night and ended making my first frittata ever, which kicked all kinds of ass it was so good), and given the rain that came through the area that day, I decided to tackle my errands early.  I biked from home to Schnuck’s on Union, then to the liquor store on Madison and McLean, then home.  My timing was superb; the rain began pelting our house about five minutes after I shouldered my bike through the front door.  Here’s a map of my adventures that day, minus the impending rain.

There and back again

And here’s another clickable link of my ride.  I still remember the joy I felt when I discovered LeMaster Street, which runs a scant few blocks between Harbert and Union but provides a wonderful route to the back parking lot of Schnuck’s, meaning that I don’t have to deal with Union when biking to the grocery store.  God bless you, tiny street.

Thursday found me with a few items to take care of on campus, so I hopped on my trusty two-wheeler and headed to the U of M.  Here’s the map.

From home to work

And here’s that clickable link you all so crave.  I have to say: I’ve really grown fond of the East Buntyn neighborhood in the past few months.  It’s not a huge part of the U of M district, but I very much appreciate its quiet streets and trees. There’s even a few houses I have my eyes on, in case my wife and I decide to move east and buy something larger.  This is not likely in the near future, for lots of reasons, and I would hate to leave my neighborhood, but there are definitely worse places to live in Memphis.

In the days since last Thursday’s ride, Memorial Day weekend (and the perquisite trip to visit the in-laws) has passed and summer has arrived in all its brute force.  I’ll be teaching an undergraduate economics course at the Governor’s School for International Studies this summer, as I have for the past four years, and I am very excited for that.  I do wish that summers in Memphis were not so viciously hot, but such is biking in Memphis.

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.