Tagged: Shelby Farms Greenline

Happy news

I already posted this on this blog’s Facebook page, but I thought I’d write about it here in greater detail.  I’ve been biking a fair amount lately, now that my work schedule has returned to something resembling normalcy.  The weather has been great recently, a few days of rain notwithstanding, and I thoroughly love the autumn temperatures, whether I’m on my bike or not.  Anyway, today I biked from home to campus in the morning and back again in the afternoon with no incidents.  Traffic was light, and the weather was perfect.

This evening I had a meeting to attend at Grace St. Luke’s Church, so I left home around 5:40 PM and began my bike ride.  As I was biking west on Young Avenue, I was approaching a parked car in the far right lane, where I was biking.  At the same time, a car was approaching from the rear on my left hand side.  As I neared the parked car and the passing car approached me, I wondered if I would have time to pass the parked car before I myself was passed.  I probably wouldn’t have had time to do so, but it didn’t matter, because the passing car slowed just as I was approaching the parked car, allowing me to safely pass it and return to the far right lane.  I was pleasantly surprised and waved my thanks.

And then, it happened again, on Belvedere, as I was heading north to GSL.  I was approaching a parked car when a car, soon to pass me, slowed and allowed me to safely pass the parked car.  I know we’ve all had close calls in traffic, whether it be while passing a car or being passed, and we’ve all had a driver or two extend the hand of courtesy.  But twice in one day?  This is unprecedented, my people, and quite welcome.  Are Memphis drivers becoming used to cyclists and learning to share the road?  Let’s all hope so.

Speaking of good news, hopefully you’ve heard about the Hampline.  It’s a two mile, on-road, multi-use trail that will connect the Shelby Farms Greenline to Overton Park.  Making this connection safe and protected for cyclists and other travelers will do a lot to strengthen the routes between east Memphis and the ‘burbs to Midtown, Downtown, and other points west.  The Hampline is partially crowd-funded, so you have an opportunity to support this unique project with your resources.  The goal is to raise $75,000, of which around $12,500 has been raised so far.  I will definitely kick in some cheddar to support this crucial and innovative improvement in our cycling infrastructure, and I hope you will too.  Special thanks to the Hightailers for matching contributions earlier in the campaign.

Also, the good people at the Peddler Bike Shop are sponsoring a Traffic Skills 101 class on Saturday, November 2.  It’s geared (pun intended) for new or potential cyclists.  The class costs $50 and is limited to 10 people, so register now!

Lastly, this has very little to do with cycling per se, but it sounds really cool, so I thought I’d share.  It’s called the “I Wish You Well” Wall, and it’s happening tomorrow at Overton Square.  The idea is that people will write a message of encouragement or something like that and leave it on the wall next to Bar Louie.  (See the event page for more information.)  I’m not usually one for public displays of positivity – perhaps it’s because I’m an economist, or because of my Scottish heritage – but this event sounds like something Memphis could use.  I’m going to visit and contribute my note, biking-related no doubt.

OK, that’s all for now.  Thanks for reading and as always, I’ll see you out there, biking in Memphis

Biking to Germantown

Have you read this article from the Commercial Appeal?  Pretty exciting stuff.  It looks like the connection between the Greenline and Germantown is completed.  The 1.25 mile section has apparently been unofficially open now for a couple of weeks.  This means that one could bike from Tillman to Germantown on bike paths without interruption.  Here’s a map of where the newly completed segment lies.

Screen Shot 2012 07 22 at 11 26 02 AM

You can the connection between Shady Grove Rd. and the Poplar Estates neighborhood on the map, bottom center.  I’m not sure if that’s exactly where the path lies, but it would appear to be.

I haven’t had the chance to go exploring out east in some time.  Anyone else ridden this new segment?

Weekend wrap-up

People.  I have good news (and bad) for the Memphis biking community: the Shelby Farms Greenline will be receiving $3.3 million to be extended east to Cordova.  This is awesome.  I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been to Cordova in the five years I’ve lived in Memphis.  With this new cycling path, perhaps my visits out east will become more frequent.

But here’s the bad news: $1.1 million for a bike-lane project on Broad Avenue was declined.  I don’t know what this means for extending the Greenline west to Midtown – whether or not other sources of funds for this project have been identified – but it’s a drag to have this initiative not receive funding.

Have you registered for the Bluff City Blues 100?  I haven’t, but only because I’ll be out of town that day.  Get on that ride and support a good cause.

I’m not so crazy about e-bikes – I like an unassisted ride – but if I were to buy one, this might just be the one.

…..

Dear Santa,

I promise I’ve been a good boy this year.  I ate all my vegetables and made my bed every day.  Now just bring me some MonkeyLectric Lights and there won’t be any problems, fat man. Capiche?  Because I’ve got a u-lock with your name on it otherwise.

Love,

Doug

…..

A bicycle mecca?  Yes, please.  Also, I did not realize that Anthony Siracusa rode across the entire freakin’ US of A when he was only 16.  FTW, Anthony.

Don’t forget that funding for cycling projects is never guaranteed.  It’s a shame that we have to fight for these dollars.  Don’t hesitate to contact your local Congressional representative.

Drivers, be nice out there.

So, what is the difference between cyclists and drivers?  At least in my state we have equal rights to the roads?  Is there any reason to classify us differently?  I think not.

Big thanks to Cort and Ty for helping me promote Bike to Campus Day.  I hope to see you all there.  Let’s all show that Memphis is a cycling-friendly and active town.

(Very delayed) Weekend Wrap-Up

First of all, as I indicated at the end of my next-to-last post, I had planned to participate in a bike polo match for the first time tonight, having been invited by local bike polo aficionado Brett Edmonds.  As it happened, I decided to bow out, instead choosing to spend a day getting stuff done and hanging out with the wife.  It was a day much needed and well spent.  (Even “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” was not as abysmal as I thought it would be.)

But beyond that, I have quite a few links and articles to share with you.  So let’s get started.

First, here’s a great letter to the editors of the Commercial Appeal about the need for improvements to Madison Avenue.  While the letter does not explicitly mention bike lanes, the fact that it was written by a Midtown business owner gives it additional credence.  Let’s hope that the writer’s vision comes to fruition.

Did you ever think that Car and Driver magazine would endorse alternate transportation systems?  Well, they have.  And kudos to them for that.

Some really awesome (and adventurous) people are cycling across the U.S. in super-awesome velomobiles.  While they won’t be stopping in Memphis, I am impressed with their efforts. Especially considering this book, which I finished a few weeks ago.  I will likely complain many times about the state of roads in Memphis (Cooper Street just north of Central, in the far-right southbound lane; Linden Avenue heading into downtown … the list goes on), but I will do so with the understanding that many past cyclists had it far worse than I ever will.

This woman is awesome.  I don’t know that I would have had the guts that she did.

It’s hard to believe that the Shelby Farms Greenline is less than one year old.  Honestly, it feels like it’s been around for years, and I haven’t even biked it that many times.  Whatever the case, there is a half-marathon scheduled for Sunday, 2 October to celebrate the one-year anniversary of its (official) opening, plus a day-long party on the Greenline the day before.  I’ll be at the latter for sure, but probably not the former.

Cort over at Fix Memphis continues his heroic and awesome quest to chronicle every bike rack in the whole damn city.  That’s a lot of pedaling.

My wife and I have no immediate plans to have kids, but if/when we do, I want a cargo bike like this lady has.  How ridiculously awesome/adorable is that?

Charles McVean is also awesome.  The CA agrees.  So does this cyclist.

In other Cort news, here’s a great discussion on bike cargo transportation-solutions.  Makes me want a bike trailer even more.

Yep.

If the Harahan Bridge project should go through, here’s a snapshot of what it might mean for Memphis.  Granted, the mid-south is not the mid-west, but drawing more tourists to the area can only be a good thing.  Here’s more about the project.

I’m glad to see that slow biking is getting some attention.  Granted, I had not heard of this idea before reading that article, but it’s good that some people are recognizing the benefits of biking, in terms of allowing (if not encouraging) us to slow down and take in our surroundings and communities.

The awesome people at Livable Memphis are sponsoring a discussion on Portland, Oregon and it’s livability.  It’s scheduled for Tuesday, 16 August, from 5:30 PM to 7:00 PM at the Benjamin Hooks LIbrary on Poplar.  I don’t know if I will be there, but maybe you should be.

Biking to work keeps getting more awesome.

People, be careful out there.

OK, that’s all for now.  I’m heading out of town on Wednesday so my biking (and blogging) this week will be somewhat limited.  But I’ll be back soon.  Thanks for reading.

Today’s ride

It’s been a minute or two since I wrote about my day’s biking.  It’s not that I haven’t been biking; in fact, I’ve logged almost 950 miles this year, having crossed the 900 mile-threshold earlier this week.  I’ve just been so busy that writing about each day’s ride is a luxury I cannot often afford.

But today I can.  I began my day by downing several cans of some iced coffee beverage or other, having slept later than planned.  You see, I had scheduled a bike ride with a friend for 8:00 this morning, the beginning of which was compassionately delayed until 9:00.  (Hi Stacy!)  Ordinarily I would have made a proper pot, er, press, of coffee at home had I not overslept, but no matter.  I was sufficiently caffeinated to begin my day.  So I biked east on Southern Avenue to meet my cycling pal.  After rendezvousing near campus, we set off on the Greenline.

The morning was warm and humid – this is a Memphis summer after all – but not too unbearable.  We biked to Shelby Farms on the Greenline, which was quite busy with cyclists, runners, and walkers, despite the day and time.  After resting for a moment at Penal Farm Lake Number Three (!) we headed back to our point of origin and, after a few pleasantries, separated.

I then biked home and spent the rest of the morning relaxing and sweating.  It seems these days that there is no amount of water I can drink and feel my thirst quenched.  Admittedly I have been spending an enormous amount of time in the mid-day sun and heat, the effects of which are hard to shake off.  After an hour or so of respite, and a much needed shower, I headed off to Local Gastropub to watch the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team face off against Japan in the World Cup.  If you’ve been following the news, you know how the match ended.  We lost.  But our team played really well, and I was happy to see how much chatter the game generated on facebook.  It was good to see Americans getting excited about soccer.

By then it was getting near 5:00 PM, so I once again mounted my trusty bike and headed home.  After changing clothes, I settled down into my evening of reading, eating dinner, and writing.

Here’s a map of today’s ride.

Screen shot 2011 07 17 at 10 48 47 PM

And a clickable link if you are interested.

I must share one story from this morning’s ride before I sign off.  Stacy and I were almost to Shelby Farms and were approaching the intersection of the Greenline and Mullins Station Road.  We were slowing to a stop as we approached the stop sign on the Greenline.  To our left, a vehicle heading south on Mullins Station had stopped at the intersection, presumably to let us proceed unimpeded.  Just as we were beginning our final approach to the intersection, the driver of an SUV approaching from the south honked his horn at us.  We stopped in time to see the driver dramatically point at the stop sign we had just passed, as if to admonish us for … biking?  Not driving?  Not screeching to a halt at this first sign of his shiny wagon?  All we could do in response was look in open-mouthed wonder at our new friend.  Apparently some cyclists had offended him to the point that he felt the need to correct us for their past misdeeds.  OK, fine.  Thanks for the feedback.

Altogether though it was a good day to be biking in Memphis.  My schedule permitting, I hope to write a few more blog entries about my cycling adventures of late.  Until then, thanks for reading.

Update on my recent post

I’m giving a shout out to Cort from Fix Memphis for updating my recent post and posting an incredibly awesome picture of me to his blog.  (Bonus points for flawlessly copying the Memphian of the Day entries from I Love Memphis.)  It seems that the bike facilities planned for Tillman will be a separated bike path on the western side of the street, not unlike the Greenline.  I believe that this will be the first such facility in Memphis to run alongside a major road, and I’m very excited about the possibility.  I have no idea what is the next stage in the design or approval process, but I have my fingers crossed.

New Bike/Pedestrian Crossing Signals for the Greenline

Check out this video describing the new bike/pedestrian crossing signals on the Shelby Farms Greenline.

This is really great news for the Greenline.  The signals will be installed at Highland St. and Graham and should improve cyclist and pedestrian safety.

I do hope that the city rolls out a serious public education campaign about how these signals work.  Some aspects of the signals are familiar enough to drivers – the use of yellow to indicate caution or the need to slow down and red to indicate stopping – but the difference between the flashing yellow and solid yellow lights and especially the flashing red and solid red lights will no doubt cause some confusion.  At the very least, the lights will draw more attention to the intersections and the cyclists and walkers using them.

By the way, did you hear that funky ass, honkin’ sax solo at the end of the video?  I’m not at liberty to reveal who played that solo, except that his first name rhymes with “tile” and his last with “cragenshutz.”

Word.

Connecting the Greenline to Overton Park

Sadly I was not able to bike to work today.  I know, I know … I had a large box of books to carry to a teacher training session I led this morning, after which I quickly drove (groan) to school for lunch and then my afternoon class.  I guess it’s a measure of how committed I am to bike commuting that the act of driving feels like a let down.  Alas, until I buy a bike trailer, this is what I will occasionally have to do.

But I did manage to attend the open house tonight at West Memorials (perhaps the only combination tombstone showcase/art gallery/meeting space I’ve ever visited) about the Overton Park to Broad Street connecter.  This connector will serve as a bridge between the western end of the Greenline and Overton Park, which will then feed into the proposed bike lanes on North Parkway.  Very exciting to say the least.

Anyway, here’s a few pictures from the event.

IMG 0602 2

This is the scene that greeted me on arrival.  It’s always good to see so many bikes piled up outside.

IMG 0611 2

Upon entering the gallery, I spotted this bike.  Nice grip-tape, yo.

IMG 0607 2

Here’s a somewhat blurry picture of the plans for connecting the Greenline to Overton Park.  Apparently I need a better camera.

IMG 0603 2

And here’s an equally blurry picture of what appears to be a master plan for connecting the Greenline to Overton Park.

IMG 0608 2

And here’s a picture of Anthony vamping for Cort.  Cort’s fiance Emily ducks as to not impede this wonderful moment of local cyclist silliness.

But seriously, biking in Memphis is on a roll.  Apparently there are over 20 miles of bike lanes in the city, far more than the 2+ miles I bike almost every day on Southern (and far more than there were even one year ago).  Perhaps I’ll take some time in the next few weeks to visit these new lanes.

Weekend Wrap-Up

Hi everyone.  I’m about three blog posts behind where I want to be right now – it’s been a busy week for this cyclist – so I’m taking a moment here to wrap up a few random thoughts before I move on to meatier matters.

First, here’s an amazing article about the economic development-implications of bike facilities like the Shelby Farms Greenline.  When I first heard about the plans for the Greenline, years ago, I suspected that we would eventually see new businesses open and existing businesses grow as a result of the increased walking and biking traffic nearby.  It’s good to see my economist instincts confirmed.  I don’t have any empirical evidence behind this assertion, but it seems reasonable to claim that, in terms of local business location and expansion decisions, supply tends to follow demand.  In other words, businesses locate where the people are, and not vice versa.  To anyone who has any concerns about the impact of cyclists on local businesses, this article should put those concerns fully to rest.

Second, if you want more information about what bikes mean for business, check out my friend Matt’s website.  I mean, what a perfect URL.  I can’t believe someone hadn’t already snatched it up.

Speaking of the Greenline, there is both good news and bad news about our beloved rails-to-trails project.  The good news is that the Memphis Metropolitan Planning Commission has applied for $5.5 million worth of federal grants for bike projects.  If awarded, most of the money ($3.3 million) would go to extending the Greenline east to Cordova, a much needed extension which will bring many more suburban residents to Shelby Farms and points west on foot and bike, not in a car.  An additional $1.4 million would go toward bike lanes and facilities in Memphis.  This would create an additional 50 miles of bike lanes, on top of the 55 miles already planned.  (For liberal arts majors, that adds up to 105 miles.  Har har.)  These new lanes would serve to connect the lanes already in the works.  Plus, there’s around $800,000 in the budget to connect the Greenline to Overton Park via Tillman and Braod.  This makes me so happy I can barely stand it.

(Speaking of, there is a design workshop about that connection on Tuesday, 21 June, from 5:30 PM to 7:00 PM, at West Memorials, 2481 Broad Street.  I’ll be there, and I hope you will be too.)

The bad news about the Greenline is that County Commissioner Terry Roland has proposed cutting the $576,000 budget earmark for Shelby Farms.  That’s right – he wants to defund the park at the local level, which would mean a 22% decrease in its budget.  I understand that times are tough budget-wise, but cutting money from one of the shining examples of the best of Memphis and Shelby County is downright ludicrous.  Please take a moment and contact your local commissioner and encourage them to vote against this proposal.  The vote happens tomorrow, so don’t delay.

In happier news, my friend Cort over at Fix Memphis has been doing an amazing job of surveying and writing about the bike racks in Memphis.  Maybe some ambitious cyclist with a GPS device could create a Google Map of the bike racks Cort has written about.  Any takers?

Also, I was supposed to go on a bike ride last week with Ty from Living Loud in Midtown.  I discovered Ty’s blog through a comment he left on my blog and I really like it.  He does a really great job of writing about his adventures in Midtown, both on and off the bike.  And apparently he loves his iced coffee.  I hope to be able to ride with him soon.

And, I got another shout-out from the Memphis Blog about my search for local cyclists to interview.  Thanks!  I’m happy to report that I already have three cyclists lined up for interviews with more responses coming in almost daily.  Thanks to everyone for your willingness to talk with me about biking in Memphis.

EPIC!

My friend/former student/fellow music afficionado Stacy and I have gone on several bike rides together in the past few months, some with the U of M Cycling Club, others just the two of us.  She happens to live really close to the Greenline, so we’ve biked that together at least once or twice.  Recently we had talked about biking out to Mud Island together from her place near campus, and since she’s moving to Nashville at the end of the week, we decided to make it happen this week.

Just in time for the brutal heat that is a Memphis summer of course.  Actually, it wasn’t too bad, as long as we were biking on bucolic Linden Avenue (the section between Rozelle and Cleveland) or the shadier portions of the Greenline.  But Linden Avenue downtown?  Forget it.

But what’s a little sunburn (and a wicked farmer/cyclist tan) when you have an epic bike-ride-map like this.

Screen shot 2011 06 02 at 8 41 54 AM

And here’s that clickable link you all love.

But seriously, check that out?  I love the wide variety of neighborhoods we passed through, everything from the U of M campus area to the north end of Mud Island.  I got to see parts of Memphis I’ve never seen at all, even from a car, all from the comfort of my Gary Fisher.  It was really great.

As you can perhaps tell, I began my ride from Cooper-Young that morning, then biked down Southern (gotta love those bike lanes) through the East Buntyn community to campus and grabbed Stacy.  From there we biked through the Joffre area, to Chickasaw Gardens, past Tobey Park, behind Christian Brothers University, over East Parkway, and through Midtown on Harbert, Rozelle, then Linden.

Linden took us downtown to Third Street, which we followed north past I-40, where we picked up Second Street and biked north to Mud Island Road, which we followed south to the park.

After chillaxing at the park for a minute and stopping by Miss Cordelia’s for water, we crossed the bridge at Exchange Street and headed south on Second.  We retraced our path through downtown and Midtown but forked left on Humes and headed north to the Greenline, which we followed to High Point Terrace, then south to campus and Stacy’s soon-to-be-former house.  After more rehydration, I headed home.

The total mileage was 32.4 for me (slightly less for my biking buddy) and a whole lot of fun.  Once I get settled into summer school next week I am definitely going to plan more epic morning rides, at least one a week.  Summer heat be damned.