Tagged: urban biking

Another quick one (before I leave)

Hi everyone.  I have a busy day today – a graduation party for a former student, the last stack of final exams to grade, housework, etc. – but I wanted to share a few links before I head out to the partay.

First, thanks for @sulatuesday for sharing this article about perceptions of elitism about cyclists (and vegetarians, which I also happen to be).  I wrote about the double standard that cyclists face here, here, and here.  (Make sure to read the comments from the first post.)  I love the argument the author of the article makes: that only on opposite day could “one of the cheapest forms of transportation on the planet” be regarded as elitist.  As for the idea that cyclists believe that biking is a better form of transportation than driving; of course we do. That’s why we bike.  I’m sure the car drivers out there feel the same way about driving.

Second, here’s a great article on Salon about efforts in some cities to slow traffic in residential areas, thus improving safety and perhaps making cycling equally as fast, if not faster, than driving.  I wonder if this idea would get much traction in Memphis, and where it would best be employed.

Next, it looks like Brett over at Gotta Be Gritty took a nasty spill while biking in the bike lanes on Southern.  The culprit for his spill was a piece of styrofoam, like you see inside car bumpers.  It’s funny, but just this week I noticed similar debris on Southern.  Fortunately Brett wasn’t seriously injured.  Let’s all be careful out there.

Lastly, it’s good to see that Mayor Wharton is following up on his promise to make Madison Avenue the best street that it can be.  The article’s a bit dated, but I wanted to share it anyway.

P.S. Bonus points to anyone who recognizes the song the title of this post pays homage to.  Leave your guesses in the comments.

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

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.

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.

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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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.