Tagged: bike lanes

One person’s opinion

I ran across a link to this blog entry on the Memphis Flyer’s website.  The post generated a fair amount of chatter – at least on the facebook link where it was originally posted – and I wanted to weigh on it myself, given that I am a frequent bike commuter in Memphis.

(To give you an idea of how frequently I bike around town, I have driven my car in Memphis only twice since early February, when that particularly nasty snow storm rendered the bike lanes and road shoulders basically unusable for a few days.  In the months since the snow melted, I’ve driven only once when I should have biked.  What can I say?  It was a rainy Saturday morning, I had an early meeting and I got lazy.  [And why do I feel like I’m attending confession when I write that?  I’m not even Catholic!]  The other time I drove was when thunderstorms were threatening the area, and I just don’t mess with them.   But I digress.) 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

Wow

Today was rather remarkable here at Biking in Memphis.  Not only did we (read: I) shatter our (read: my) previous record for most number of visitors, but for the first time ever, I broke the 100-visitor mark.  In fact (accounting for some weirdness in how/when Google records visitors), today this blog crested 120 unique readers.  Truly remarkable, given that only a few months ago, I was barely in the low teens.  Of course, that was before I started publicizing my blog on my facebook profile, and before I became friends on facebook with many luminaries in the local biking scene.  But regardless, I’m happy for the traffic.

What makes me most happy about the increased page-views is raising awareness of what it means to be a bike commuter in Memphis.  As I said in my “About” page, that’s the primary goal of this blog.  But of course, it’s difficult to separate being a bike commuter in Memphis from all of the controversy surrounding the extension of bicycle facilities throughout Memphis.

I understand that Mayor Wharton will soon make a decision about whether or not to install bike lanes on Madison Avenue.  Obviously, I very much hope that he decides to do so.  While I respect the concerns of the businesses on Madison who are opposed to the bike lanes, it does appear that their concerns are unfounded.  For example, some have argued that installing bike lanes on Madison Avenue will result in a “bottle-neck” of traffic on that road.  Given that the road is currently operating at around 1/3 of capacity and that, even with bike lanes, the road will still be at less than 50% of capacity, that seems unlikely.  Plus, installing bike lanes on Madison will result in no loss of parking. Not one space.

If you’d like to read more about this, please click here or here.  I do ask that you maintain the highest level of respect, without compromising your passion about promoting sustainable transportation in Memphis, when approaching this issue.

And as always, thanks for 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

Call to Action

I recently received an email from the good people at Livable Memphis about the proposed bike lanes on Madison Avenue. I have to say that I was a little disappointed to receive the email; not at all disappointed that Livable Memphis is very much on the case about supporting bike lanes on Madison, but rather that a small but vocal minority of businesses on Madison persist in opposing the installation of bikes lanes in front of their shops. 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.

The Meeting the Week Before Last About Bike Lanes on Madison Avenue

I’ve been a bit delinquent in posting my thoughts on the meeting two weeks ago about proposed bike lanes (or other bike facilities) on Madison Avenue and other roads around town.  I have been extraordinarily busy lately and haven’t had much time for long-form posts.  Plus, some of the opinions expressed in the meeting were quite shocking in their tenor such that I really wanted some time to process the events and write something thoughtful about it.

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A Smattering of Bits of Interest

  • Local biking guru Anthony Siracusa has a great article in today’s Commercial Appeal about the status of community cycling efforts in Memphis.
  • Several articles have appeared lately about the walking and biking lanes that are to be installed on the Harahan Bridge (which I’ve just discovered has its own Facebook page – who knew?) in the near future.  I am so excited about being able to bike to Arkansas – and eventually to New Orleans – I can hardly stand it.
  • There’s a meeting Wednesday, 2 March at 5:30 PM at the Church Health Center on Union Avenue about the plans for pedestrian and biking infrastructure in the area.  Kyle Wagenschutz and other folks from the Memphis MPO will be soliciting input from the public about what sort of facilities we want.  I’ll be there and I hope you will be too.
  • I’m way behind in posting about the controversy surrounding the installation of bike lanes on Madison Avenue through Midtown, but here’s a great letter to the editors of the CA on just that topic.
  • Here’s a great article from the U.S. Department of Transportation on the benefits of bicycle infrastructure.  I haven’t had a chance to fully read it, but I like what I see so far.

What a difference a day (and some shameless self-promotion) makes

I’ve been writing this blog for almost two months now.  For the first month at least, I was very reluctant to publicize this blog, for a few reasons.

  1. I am notoriously bad at self-promotion.  Something in my nature greatly resists running around and trumpeting my latest endeavor.  Why?  Who knows.
  2. I really wanted people to discover my blog “organically,” which means via internet searches and so on.  And for a while, that worked OK.  But the payoff was pretty low.
  3. Let’s face it; announcing to one’s friends and acquaintances that “hey, I’ve started a blog!” is kind of like being excited about joining MySpace.  It’s just a little dated.  But given my lack of interest in signing up for a Twitter account on top of this blog, here I am.

That said, welcome to my new readers.  To give you all an idea of what a brief mention of my blog in the comment section of a post I made on my facebook page meant, have a look at this graph.

Guess which I day I chose to publicize my blog.  Go on … take a minute.  Give up?

Whatever the case, I appreciate all my new readers.  I try to post about every 2-3 days, depending on what’s happened in my life as a bike commuter in Memphis.  I realize that there is only so much interest in posts titled “Today’s commute,” so I try to intersperse those posts with other posts concerning the larger picture of what it means to bike in Memphis.

And aside from my commute today, which was rather uneventful, except for some unwelcome rain showers this morning, that’s the point of this post.

I haven’t had a chance to write about a meeting I attended last week at the Snowden School.  The meeting was about the proposed bike lanes in Midtown, including routes on McLean and Madison.  But it was the lanes on Madison that provoked the most controversy.

You can ride about the meeting here.  I’ll add my own thoughts in a few days, as soon as I get a chance.  But what I really want to publicize is this event.

After all, what better way is there to show our support for bike lanes in Midtown than to support the very businesses that might be affected by the lanes?  While I believe the net affect will be positive, I understand that these businesses are concerned about their bottom lines.  So let’s show them that bike lanes need not mean a decline in revenues.

I hope you will join me in this effort. Thanks again for reading.

Biking to the store(s) and elsewhere

Today was an absolutely amazing day to ride.  Temperatures in the mid-70s, clear skies, a nice stiff breeze (the occasional brutal headwind aside), and a long list of errands to run.

I’ve long believed that the best biking is the kind that takes you out of your car and puts you on a bike. Obviously, not all trips are equally easy to be done on a bike.  Visits to the bulk-buyers mecca known as Sam’s Wholesale Club are just going to be more difficult on a bike, unless you have a cargo trailer, which even the most dedicated cyclist often doesn’t own.  But many trips are completely feasible on a bike, including a sizable weekly trip to the grocery store, which I accomplished today.  Given that something like 75% of trips under two miles in length are made in a car, I think we all have a little room for improvement.  And that was my goal today.

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