Tagged: Madison Avenue

Madison Avenue Bike Lanes Meetings

I’m happy to report that the City of Memphis is sponsoring three meetings about the proposed bike lanes on Madison Avenue.  The first meeting is Wednesday, 29 June, from 5:30 PM to 7:00 PM.  The remaining two meetings are on subsequent Wednesdays, 6 and 13 July.  The topics discussed at the meetings will be different, so plan to attend all three.  All meetings are at Minglewood Hall.  You can sign up for the meetings on Facebook here, here, and here.

Given how badly the first round of discussions about these bike lanes began, I’m hopeful that all interested parties – cyclists, current and future, business owners on Madison, residents, and drivers – can make sincere efforts to wipe clean the slate and start over.

There is reason to believe that this is possible.  In this article from the CA, Wight Boggs, the owner of Huey’s on Madison, indicates that she would support bike lanes on Madison if they are part of an overall renovation of the street and its environs.  I wholeheartedly support this position, and not just because it might make the bike lanes slightly more likely to happen.  The stretch of Madison Avenue in Midtown is dominated by restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues.  The street itself, though, as well as the sidewalks, is in need of some sprucing up.  I think we could significantly increase foot (and bike) traffic on Madison if the street we just a little more pleasing to look at.  I’m really glad to hear of a Madison Avenue business owner (and prominent Memphian) support making bike lanes part of Madison’s future.

Also, Cort over at Fix Memphis posts this picture of the menu at Huey’s.  I don’t know how I never noticed this before, but you can clearly see a caricature of Ms. Boggs riding a penny farthing.  Is this an omen of good things to come?  Let’s hope so.

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.

 

 

What a difference a day makes

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

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

Before

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

After

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

One person’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.