Tagged: Memphis

End of the week links

Hi everyone.  I wanted to share a few links and news items on this lovely Sunday afternoon.

First, you will never catch me sporting one of these (although my 11-year-old self has already asked for one for Christmas).  It reminds me of the whistle tip phenomenon of ten years ago.

Second, grab your spare parts and unneeded gear.  Memphis is having another bike swap meet.  This one is scheduled for Saturday, March 16 at Minglewood Hall on Madison, from 2:00 PM to 7:00 PM.  Admission is $5, and there will be beer.  Those of you with long memories of Memphis cycling remember the swap meets of a few years ago.  I went to the last one.  It was great.  That’s where I bought these beauties.

Swag

So much swag.

The University of Memphis Tiger Bikes bike share program is almost ready to launch.  I think I’ve posted about this before; can’t remember though.  Anyway, my friend and colleague Amelia Mayahi and I have been working on this project for around two years.  The bikes, 55 of them, are all assembled and waiting to be ridden.  We’re still waiting on a few last details to be taken care of before students can begin using the bikes.  I’m really excited for this program to take off and to see more students biking around campus.  Special thanks to the good people at the Peddler Bike Shop for supplying the bikes and invaluable assistance.

More good biking news for Memphis: we’re hosting the Tennessee Bike Summit!  It’s going down May 22 – May 24 at Rhodes College.  This will be a great opportunity to highlight all the positive changes that have been happening in local cycling, and in other cities across the state.  Registration opens March 1.

Also, if you’re a fixie fan, check out this page.

Speaking of fixies, I’ve never owned one or even ridden one, but after seeing Premium Rush this weekend, I am sooooo tempted to buy one.  The movie itself is pretty good; not the best movie I’ve ever seen, but full of ridiculously fun biking.  Two thumbs up.

Finally, I found this tumblr just recently.  It’s not biking related, but it is a celebration of all things Memphis, which is good enough to post here.  Fuck yeah Memphis indeed!

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

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.

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.

Continue reading

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.

Two days, two rides

I don’t know if it’s writer’s block or a lack of a theme for this post, but I want to write about my experiences commuting around Memphis today and yesterday, and yet I’m having a devil of a time getting started on this.  Were my rides frustrating?  Exhilarating?  Fulfilling?  Lacking?  What’s the through line?

Well, like almost any commute I’ve made in the past few years I’ve been biking around Memphis, my rides were both frustrating and exhilarating and fulfilling and lacking.  Everything, all rolled into one giant burrito of what it means to be a commuter cyclist.

So what was frustrating about my rides?  First, let’s have a look at the routes.  Very similar, the two of them.  For both rides, I started out at my home in the south-east corner of Cooper Young, headed north to the main intersection of the neighborhood, then went on from there.  On Friday I stopped by my favorite local bookstore to pick up a book I had recently ordered, then biked over to my favorite local video store to pick up some movies for the weekend.  From there I sallied forth to the nearest package store to pick up a bottle of vino, then home.

On Saturday my ride was nearly identical.  To the video store to return one of the DVDs, then to the nearest drug store to pick up a few items for my ailing wife, then back by the liquor store for another bottle of wine, then home.  Sounds nice, yes?

Sure, except for nearly getting cut off by a driver who turned right in front of me off Cooper.  And encountering more than a few drivers for whom the three-feet rule is unknown.  [sigh]

But I don’t let it get me down.  In the past week I’ve biked every day and haven’t used my car once.  To me, that’s a good week.