Tagged: bike commuting

Bike Lanes on North Parkway

Hi everyone.  There was a great article in today’s Commercial Appeal about the possibility of bike lanes being installed on North Parkway.  The lanes would run the distance of the road, also known as State Route 1, from East Parkway to Danny Thomas Boulevard.  (West of Danny Thomas, North Parkway turns into A. W. Willis and drops from six lanes to four, too few to allow for bike lanes, apparently.)  If installed, the bike lanes would reduce the number of lanes in either direction to two from the current three.

The benefits of installing bike lanes on North Parkway are clear.  The road runs through or past several neighborhoods, including Vollintine-Evergreen, Snowden-Claybrook, and Rhodes College.  Moreover, installing bike lanes on this route would provide a vital and direct connection between Midtown and downtown.  While the lanes wouldn’t run all the way to Front Street (as I understand it, although I could be wrong on this), the length of A. W. Willis between Danny Thomas and the river is relatively short and not too difficult to bike. Further, the bike lanes would end at the western edge of the St. Jude campus and would connect easily to the Overton Park/Broad Avenue/Greenline system of bike lanes and paths.  Imagine the suburban employees of St. Jude parking their cars at Shelby Farms, hopping on their bikes and pedaling the twelve or so miles to work.  This could be huge for biking in Memphis.

What’s most impressive about this proposal is the fact that many of the neighborhood associations and businesses along North Parkway are very much in favor of the lanes.  This is in marked contrast to the (still unresolved) controversy about the proposed bike lanes on Madison Avenue, just a mile or so to the south.  I don’t think I’m alone in wanting that situation to be put to bed, and soon.

If you’d like to learn more about the proposed bike lanes on North Parkway, there’s a meeting on Tuesday, 24 May, at 5:30 PM, in the Blount Auditorium in Buckman Hall at Rhodes College.  Here’s a flier with more information.

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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

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 very definition of awesome

Hi everyone.  I don’t remember where I first read this blog entry – it might have been on Public Bikes’ blog – but how amazing is this?  There are so many aspects of her story that impresses me.  The multi-stage nature of her commute. The maps she posted with the accompanying details of her ride.  The distance of her ride – about 9 miles, which is not at all shabby for a daily commute, not to mention the fact that she negotiated more than one mode of transportation.  Plus the fact she rode many of those miles with a toddler strapped in behind her is really amazing.

But I am most impressed with the fact that she put all of this together into a really fascinating blog entry, and that she’s living the dream.  Did you ever doubt that, as a parent living in a major city, you could be a bike commuter?  Well, she is proof positive that you can have your cake and eat it too.  That is, you can be a big-city parent and a bike commuter.

Time will tell if I will ever have to face similar challenges.  My wife have no immediate plans to have kids (much to the consternation of some relatives) but if we ever do, I would love to try to replicate this sort of biking adventure.

Today’s ride

Today was a great day to be biking in Memphis.  The weather is nearly perfect for biking: not too cool, a nice breeze (a.k.a. headwind), low humidity, and the pollen is tolerable.  I biked from home to Otherlands this morning for my regular coffee and bagel with an enormous pile of hummus, then to campus through Chickasaw Gardens, which was looking particularly resplendent in its spring colors.  Then from campus I biked to the liquor store on Poplar (can’t remember the name) for a bottle of vino, then home.  It was a really great ride.  Here’s a map.

Continue reading

Epic

I haven’t yet developed the terminology necessary to describe my biking goals, but I’m getting there.  As I was biking home tonight from a meeting downtown, I thought of the phrase “replacement miles.”  This refers to the miles I spend on my bike that replace miles I would otherwise spend in my car.  (In addition, this would include miles my wife might spend in her car.)  From my perspective as a bike commuter, one who does little in the way of recreational cycling, the best miles I accumulate are replacement miles.  Do I love biking the Greenline?  Yes.  Do I love seeing so many other people taking advantage of the Greenline?  You bet.  But do the miles I accumulate riding the Greenline mean as much to me as the miles I accumulate biking to work?  Not at all.

Don’t get me wrong, I celebrate and embrace all types of cycling.  But I’m most interested in seeing how far I can go in replacing my car with my bike.  So far I’m doing pretty well: I haven’t driven to school in almost two months, and since early February (when that monster snowstorm hit Memphis, rendering my daily commute non-bikable), I’ve driven my car on exactly one trip where I could have biked.  Only one.  Not too shabby, I think.

So today’s commute can best be described as epic.  In total I accumulated another 18 replacement miles, beginning with my commute from home to campus this morning (3.25 miles, roughly).  After a few meetings and some papers graded, I left for the aforementioned meeting in downtown Memphis.  Fifty minutes later, I had racked up another eight miles on my bike.  I then biked from downtown home, completing my journey with another six or so miles. Here’s a map of my travels.

And here’s a link to a map of my ride, if you’d like a closer look.

Just to the left of the middle of my route is when my path headed to downtown crossed my path going home.  From home I took Southern to campus, taking a detour on Midway, which I took when I left campus.  I followed the Chickasaw Gardens route from campus to Midtown, then Harbert to Cleveland to Peabody/Vance downtown. Heading home, I followed Linden to Rozelle to Harbert, then Belvedere, then Central to Cooper to home.

Why was I heading downtown, you might ask?  Well, I’m not at privy to release that information, but suffice to say that good things are in store for Memphis.

Bike-to-Work Day Memphis

I’m really excited to participate for the second time in National Bike-to-Work Day, which is scheduled for Friday, 20 May, this year in Memphis.  (I’m assuming that the name of the event is self-explanatory enough such that I don’t need to go into what it’s all about.)  If this year’s event is anything like last year, it should be great.  There’s a contest this year to see which company can get the most employees to bike in that day.  There will also be “energizer” stations in various locations around downtown to hand out goodies, snacks, water, and so on.  And there will be some lunch-time event at Court Square Park, with bike vendors and groups and a band and all that.

Last year was quite a bit of fun.  I met some random people at Otherlands Coffee – none of whom I had ever met before – and we biked to the energizer station in the South Main arts district.  Then, my fellow riders went to work and I … had breakfast.  Then hung around one of the local coffee houses for most of the day, until it was time to ride home.  You see, since I don’t work in downtown, it was Bike-to-Work Day for me in name only.  I did bike, just not to work.  Well, my work anyway.

I’d really like it if there was a Bike-to-Work Day outpost on campus, maybe at the fountain on the Student Plaza. Trouble is, 20 May is after spring semester ends and before summer term begins, so the campus will basically be a ghost town.  I do love that about my job, having summers off.  In the meantime, for me, every day is bike-to-work day.

Here’s a link to the event’s facebook page.  So far over 250 people like the event, and it would be really exciting if all 250+ actually biked to work that day.  I suspect that some of them are likes in principle, not in practice.  Still, support for biking is meaningful, even if not put into practice.

Oh, and I just noticed that you do have to register to participate.  All you submit is your name, email address, company, and where you want to pick up your schwag.

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.