Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Ride your bike to the Grizzlies game this Friday!

Grizzlies Go Green: Tour de Grizz bike ride

Friday, April 3
Grizzlies vs. Mavericks

Go Green with the Grizz for a game and try on sustainable travel as part of a group by participating in a 4.8 mile bike ride to the game. You'll also get a special ticket discount.

Discounted ticket prices
Terrace Level $10
Plaza Level $20
First Tennessee Club Level $25

Buy discounted tickets online

Just use the password: GREEN

Tour De Grizz details

  • Group Bike Ride departs at 6 p.m. from parking lot at First Congregational Church, 1000 S. Cooper.
  • View the bike route.
  • Check in begins at 5:30 p.m.
  • Escorted round-trip by Memphis Police Dept.
  • Rain or shine – be prepared for wet weather
  • Ticket includes secure “Bike Valet Parking” inside Grand Lobby of FedExForum
  • Post-game return ride departs FedExForum 15 minutes following conclusion of Grizzlies game

For more information, contact Anna at 901.205.1491 or via e-mail.

Bicycle Magazine now has Bicycle Lawyer on Staff!

This fella is kind of amazing:

Bob Mionske is a nationally-known cycling lawyer with a practice exclusively focused on representing cyclists. An advocate for the rights of cyclists, Bob is the author of Bicycling & the Law, the first book written for cyclists on their legal rights and responsibilities since 1895. Bob is also a former U.S. Olympic and pro cyclist; Bob represented the United States in the 1988 and 1992 Olympic games, and was the National Road Race Champion in 1990, amassing a record of over 100 wins during his racing career.

Check out his first article here:


The Greenline gets the Greenlight!

Vote passed today. 13-0

This from Greg Maxted:

Yesterday, the county voted 13-0 in favor of providing $375,000 to complete the first 7 miles of the CSX Greenline!

Mayor Wharton stopped by to lend his support.

It was a veritable Greenline love fest.

The highlights:

  • Shelby County Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the $375,000 for the Greenline Project!!!
  • $4,750,000 to buy 7 miles of abandon rail, from SFPC
  • $1,500,000 to build a trail, from the Feds
  • Plan is to finish it by the end of the year!!!

This is huge, yall. Like whoa.

An idea is floating between the Greenline people and city officials regarding the creation of a parking lot off of Flicker Street near Avery.

View Larger Map

The city owns all the property around the head of the Greenline, and the Greeline folks hope that they will consider construcing a parking lot for people to park and then ride out to the Farms on the CSX. Thats a great thing for families etc., but for cyclists interested in riding their bikes to the greenline and riding out to SF this is also great news. There are a number of bike friendly routes to get to the trail head at Flicker and Avery, so the creation of a well lit, well designed starting place with a parking lot on Flicker is a win for the families and the avid cyclists riding to the trail head.


Monday, March 30, 2009

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Sustainable Shelby Meeting hosted by The Sierra Club

I think Sustainable Shelby is one of the most amazing government led initiatives our region has seen.

Having served on the Traffic and Transportation Committee as a citizen interested in the direction of our city, I can say that the process was both democratic and refreshing.

When the official document is released, you'll be able to find analysis and commentary here at Pedal Power.

Sierra Club hosts Sustainable Shelby discussion March 26

The Sierra Club presents:
Sustainability in Shelby County: The Next Chapter
With the upcoming release of the long-awaited Implementation Report of the Final Recommendations from the Sustainable Shelby Initiative, a public forum will be held to discuss the results, the input process, and the promise of what implementation of these proposals means for Memphis and Shelby County.
Where: Trinity United Methodist Church, 1738 Galloway
When: Thursday March 26
6:30-7:00pm - Refreshments and Networking
7:00-8:30pm - Panel Discussion with the Sustainable Shelby Implementation Team, Q&A
Email or call Don at 276-1397 for more details.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Bike Sharing Done Right

This is something Memphis can certainly do. It would, in fact, boom in our downtown with the right marketing.


Monday, March 23, 2009

Exclusive Article!

My editor at the Commercial Appeal did not run this column on the Healthy Memphis page of the Commercial Appeal because it contained too much "advocacy" for a Health and Fitness section. I want to publish it here for you today.

Daily papers are on the decline. Why not run stories that people want to read, stories about dedicated citizens committed to making Memphis into the very best city it can be?


Last Wednesday night (February 25), a crowd gathered into a meeting room at the Benjamin J. Hooks Public Library for a meeting sponsored by the local Sierra Club. Sandwiches were eaten, 2 liter cokes consumed and chocolate chip cookies devoured. But the main course for the evening was a presentation from Greater Memphis Greenline Executive Director Syd Lerner. Four years ago, a group of what Lerner described as “do-gooders” organized themselves into a 501 (c) 3 for the express purpose of turning the CSX rail line that runs through the heart of Memphis into a multi-use path. Walkers, runners, bicyclists, children in strollers and roller-bladers would be soaring along this abandoned corridor in a little less than two years, they believed. Lerner described the private group of donors prepared to purchase the right of way for the trail, The Memphis Connection Group, as the silent partners just off stage prepared to dole out the dough necessary to make this 13 mile abandoned rail corridor into a world class greenline. Four years, three radically different estimates and 7 million dollars later a handshake deal has only just been reached for about half of the land in question.

When the right of way is officially purchased by the Memphis Connectors Group, Shelby County will take over legal jurisdiction of the land. Approximately 6 miles of the rail-line, from Polar and Tillman to Shelby Farms Park, is the band of land under consideration. The final half of the greenline, from Shelby Farms east, is a second priority for the Greater Memphis Greenline organization. The political wherewithal required to acquire the property from CSX, at least initially Lerner explained, is more likely to come from developing the corridor where it runs through well-populated areas. To date, CSX has pulled the old rail road ties from it’s western most point to Shelby Farms, and the Greater Memphis Greenline expects to begin plans for resurfacing within the year.

Greenline projects inevitably draw criticism. Neighborhoods worry that increased access to their back yards will prove alluring to criminals, a point carefully negotiated by the Vollintine Evergreen Community Association (VECA) when that group began to establish its 1.7 mile greenline years ago. Today, walkers and students enjoy the greenline’s arboretum while joggers and bicyclists recreate in a car-free public space. Time has proven VECA’s greenline to be an amenity rather than a liability.
Greenlines are bold delineations of a sensible city, a symbol that a city is focused on improving the quality of life for all its people. For bicyclists in particular, the CSX Greenline may represent the single biggest step forward in Memphis’ history.

Keep up with the Greater Memphis Greenline’s progress on their webpage at:

CSX on the Way!

Shelby County officials seal deal with CSX; new trail coming soon

Land next to Shelby Farms will be used for greenway

What now is an abandoned rail line through swampy forests and a sweeping cross-section of Memphis is on track to be converted this year into a biking and hiking trail that officials describe as the area's most significant recreation project in ages.

Shelby County has reached agreement with to purchase 7.04 miles of the rail corridor from Farm Road to the Poplar viaduct area. The deal clears the way for construction, by year's end, of a paved trail connecting neighborhoods just east of Midtown with Shelby Farms.

The so-called greenway, or linear park, has been a long-term goal of local officials, who say it will improve residents' quality of life, help attract new businesses and possibly end Memphis' standing as one of the nation's most sedentary and obese cities.

"I'm not at all overstating things to say that this project will have a positive impact for generations to come," Shelby County Mayor A C Wharton said. "... It touches on impacting our community's health, on linking citizens together, and even on clean modes of transportation."

This week, a County Commission committee will get its first look at a resolution authorizing the deal. It calls for the county to accept $4.775 million from the Shelby Farms Park Conservancy to cover the purchase as well as some design work and improvements to rail bridges. The nonprofit group gathered the money through private fundraising.

Most of the funds needed for the actual trail construction will come from a $1.5 million federal surface transportation grant. The only county funds needed will be a $375,000 local match for the grant.

"Anytime you can pull down $5 million by putting up $375,000, how do you walk away from that?" Wharton asked during a recent interview.

The full commission is expected to vote on the resolution March 30.

Efforts to reach CSX officials for comment late last week were unsuccessful.

The stretch from Farm Road to Avery, near the viaduct, encompasses a little more than half of the entire 13.34-mile corridor being abandoned by CSX, with the remainder extending east from Shelby Farms almost to Houston Levee Road. Local officials say they plan to begin negotiations toward the purchase of the other 6.3 miles once the first trail section is complete.

The rail corridor dates to at least 1916, but by the late-1990s it was used little. In 2003, CSX received federal authorization to discontinue service on the line.

City and county officials began their efforts to buy the corridor more than five years ago, but talks broke down as the railroad asked for as much as $17.8 million for the entire 13.34-mile stretch. A local group known as Greater Memphis Greenline was organized to promote the project.

Last year, CSX removed most of the rail and did some clearing along the corridor as the two sides came closer to agreement.

With the purchase, the western half of the corridor becomes part of the nationwide Rails-To-Trails program, which allows it to remain a contiguous property for use in recreation. Nationwide, there are about 15,000 miles of rails-to-trails projects, with an estimated 100 million users annually.

The initial seven-mile trail in Memphis will be particularly useful, proponents say, because it enhances the accessibility to Shelby Farms for Memphis residents. Officials with the Shelby Farms Park Conservancy say one of the most frequent complaints they hear concerns the inability of residents to ride bikes or walk to the 4,500-acre park from the west.

The trail represents a "seven-mile addition to Shelby Farms Park," said conservancy chairman Calvin Anderson. "It physically connects us with neighborhoods -- a goal we have had since inception."

With the resolution before the commission, the conservancy would be granted authority to operate, enhance and maintain the trail.

Conservancy executive director Rick Masson said that with the commission's approval of the resolution, construction of the paved trail should be completed well before the end of the year.

One key concern the conservancy says it is trying to address is security. Some residents living adjacent to the corridor have expressed fears that the trail might provide enhanced access not just to bikers and hikers but also to criminals.

Masson said conservancy officials have met with Memphis police officials and will meet with residents to discuss ways to maximize security. The trail won't be opened to the public, he said, until a security plan is in place.

"We're going to have a comprehensive security plan to allay any fears the community might have, and they will have input," Masson said.

Some residents welcome the trail. As she raked cut weeds and debris on a portion of the corridor behind her elderly mother's home just north of Mullins Station on Saturday, Jean Anderson said the project will represent a marked improvement.

"It'll be nice. It beats weeds and garbage," she said.

-- Tom Charlier: 529-2572

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

On the soon to be striped bike routes in Memphis...

There are a number of perks and drawbacks to the City's plan to create bike routes in the city, and I hope to explore some of those here.

First, before the routes were approved, I spoke with the city's engineering department about which streets would receive bicycle facilities. They explained that while nearly 7 routes were under consideration within the city limits (G-town, Collierville, Millington have their own engineers and route recommendations), they could not reveal the details of which routes were considered. I have enjoyed a fruitful relationship with the City Engineering department over the past few years, but I did not understand why they could not discuss with a member of Memphis' Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee proposed bike routes in Memphis. In advance of the meeting where they approved the routes, I sent a brief message to the engineers that contained this statement:

My concern as you all move into tomorrow's ETC meeting is that we will end up striping and signing 7 half-mile segments of roadways with no clear explanation of what is being connected by the routes. Put another way, as an individual involved in the creation Memphis Bike Plan and having served on the BPAC committee since its inception, I believe that the stimulus dollars would be best spent through the creation of a single route or a couple of routes which provide a connecting corridor between two population generators. While I understand the idea of striping one small piece of a much larger route with the intention of completing it in the future, as was the case with Shady Grove Rd., I think the best way to positively impact the Memphis community--both the community of bicyclists and the communities connected by a route--is to carefully chose one or two corridors that you can fully complete with these stimulus dollars.

After a public announcement, it looks like a half dozen or so half block bike lanes is what we will receive. Perhaps this was the right decision.

But while any bike facility in Memphis is seemingly a good bike facility, I think it is important to remember the fragile nature of our current position. Because we have only 1 bike lane way out east, support for bike facilities in the public mind is still pretty low. Thus, any bike facility we create should be a success.

What is a success?
  • The Bike facility generates more ridership from different types of riders (e.g. not fixed gear dudes and spandex warriors)
  • The facility scores PR points for its location and importance to a community
  • Finally, the bike facility should become a tool to teach motorists how to drive more safely when near bicyclists.
Will the new lanes provide these critical victories? Lets deal with them by category:

Wide Outside Lane
The plans for bike facilities include a wide outside lane for Vollintine street between Ayers and Bellevue. According to the Memphis Bike Plan, a wide outside lane is defined as:

Wide Outside Lane

(A) Shoulder bike lane (which) typically attract(s) Type A and Type B bicyclists. A WOL is a rightmost vehicular travel lane that has at least a couple of extra feet in width and that is signed for use by bicyclists. The extra width that a WOL provides allows motorists to pass bicyclists without encroaching into the adjacent travel lane. Because WOLs are used by both motorists and bicyclists, they primarily attract Type A bicyclists and some of the more experienced Type B bicyclists.


• They separate the flows of vehicular traffic and bicycle traffic. This
separation is especially advantageous for streets with high speeds and/or high traffic volumes.

• They attract a variety of users.

• Often, they can easily be incorporated on roadways that have shoulders. Shoulders that are at least four feet wide only require signage to designate a shoulder bike lane. Wide Outside Lanes (WOLs)

• They provide additional width for bicyclists so that motorists do not
have to drive too closely to bicyclists or encroach into the adjacent
travel lane.

They increase the visibility between motorists and bicyclists because they require bicyclists to ride in the flow of vehicular traffic.

WOLs can easily be designated by adding signage. This is especially
important for roadways that do not have enough width to accommo-
date bike lanes, but do have enough width to accommodate


The wide outside lane is low hanging fruit, no doubt. But will it create a safer space for cycling? I think the easy answer is yes, for now, but it will by admission probably not prove attractive to people who do not already rides bikes.

The second group of routes are "Sign Shared Roadways," and Front St. from Union south to GE Patterson will receive this designation as will Perkins Extended from Walnut Grove to Poplar. The Memphis Bike Plan defines them as such:

Signed Shared Roadways (SSRs)
An SSR is a conventional roadway that is signed as a preferred route for bicy-
clists. SSRs are typically reserved for arterial or collector streets that have a
high demand for bicycle travel or that make important connections, but can-
not accommodate bike lanes or WOLs due to physical constraints. Because
SSRs do not provide any additional width for bicyclists, they tend to only
attract Type A bicyclists.

• They can be implemented at a low cost because they only require

• Because motorists and bicyclists must travel in the same lane, SSRs
increase the visibility between motorists and bicyclists.

• They provide a bicycle route on a roadway that makes an important
connection but cannot accommodate bike lanes or WOLs.

• They attract only the most experienced bicyclists.

• They do not provide additional width for motorists to pass bicyclists.

• They appeal to fewer users because they require bicyclists to ride
in the flow of vehicular traffic.

• They can create conflicts between bicyclists and vehicles that are
parked on the street. Bicyclists must be cautious of vehicle doors
that may be opened as they are passing a parked vehicle.

Once again, the SSR is low-hanging fruit. It is not ideal to designate roadways as Sign Shared as it will not cater to the group of cyclists that want to ride but do not because they fear for their safety. While these roadways are a sign of progress for Memphis, will they create the victories mentioned earlier?

My point here is not to be a stickler for perfection. I do not want my thesis to me missed: Memphis, while behind most cities its size in terms of bike facilities, has an opportunity to do alot of things better than other cities. In our haste to create something, my point is that we should not settle for just anything. I'll leave it to you to decide whether the above routes are an anything.

Finally, the majority of the proposed routes are bike lanes. Peabody west from Diana to Bellevue will receive a bike lane; Waring north from Wells Station; Wells Station north from Waring to Watts; Norris st. from Mallory east to Norris Circle and Germantown Rd. from Kingsland south to the city limits.

This is what the Memphis Bike Plan says about bike lanes:

Bike Lanes
A bike lane is a travel lane on a roadway that is designated by signage and
pavement markings for the preferential or exclusive use of bicyclists. Bike
lanes are one-way facilities that are provided on both sides of the street in
order to carry bicyclists in the same direction of travel as motorists. They
are typically four feet wide, but can be as much as six feet wide, such as
when they are located adjacent to on-street parking. Bike lanes are primarily
preferred by Type A and Type B bicyclists. Typically, bike lanes will experi-
ence some limited use by Type C bicyclists.

• They separate vehicular traffic and bicycle traffic. This separation is
especially advantageous for streets with high speeds and/or high traffic

• They increase the public’s awareness of bicycling through the use of
signage and pavement markings.

• They attract a variety of users.

• They create potential conflicts between motorists and bicyclists who
are turning left because bicyclists must cross the vehicular traffic
lanes in order to complete the turn.

• They create potential conflicts between bicyclists and motorists who
are turning right because motorists must cross the bike lane in order to
make the turn.

• They create conflicts between parked vehicles and bicyclists when
they are placed adjacent to on-street parking. Bicyclists may have
to navigate around parked vehicles that encroach into the bike lane.
Also, bicyclists must be cautious of vehicle doors that may be opened
as they are passing a parked vehicle. Therefore, when placed adja-
cent to on-street parking, bike lanes should be between five and six feet

Bike lanes. Ah, that panacea, pie in the sky, distant solution to cycling woes has finally come to the river city. And what will our streets be like once they are striped and signed? My guess is that people will use these facilities. But it will be the same people who have been riding bikes in Memphis. The reason: the bike lanes do not connect anything.

People want to be able to go somewhere on their bicycle, even if just to the park to ride and recreate, and the current slate of bike lanes connects nothing. It is a point I have made in the past and a point I will continue to make. To increase the mode share of bicyclists, to decrease the vehicle miles traveled (VMTs) in Memphis, to create safe streets for bicycle commuting you must have corridors of connectivity. This is where our first round of bike lanes falls short.

I join you in hope and optimism as these facilities are an excellent stride in the right direction. It is an imperfect and flawed stride, however, and we should be careful to learn from these routes to improve future routes.

In Memphis, we have serious cyclists. We have casual cyclists. We have potential cyclists, and this is our strength. If we communicate with each of these groups, create working relationships with the public as the Office of Planning and Development (OPD) has done, we will begin to take the very best steps towards improving our city for bicycling.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Updated Map

Bike Lanes approved for Memphis

It looks like President Barack Obama's Stimulus package has trickled down to Memphis. The following routes have been approved for construction by the Memphis MPO.

Check out Wayfaring.com to see how the routes fit together on a map. First, locate Memphis. Then, search "Revolutions community bike shop." On the sidebar you will be able to locate "bike lanes," "sign shared roadways," etc.

It appears we're heading in the right direction.

Shelby County Government Projects

· CSX Rails to Trails – Avery Road to Farm Road – Construction Trail - $1.5 million

Town of Arlington

· Arlington Bike and Pedestrian Trail Phase I – Arlington Middle School to Arlington Elementary School – Construction of pedestrian and bike trails and appurtenances - $350,000

City of Bartlett

· US 70 – Broadway Avenue – Pedestrian Bridge Design - $50,000

· US 64 – Yale Road – Off Street Bike Design - $100,000

City of Germantown

· Wolf Rive Blvd – Kimbrough to Farmington – Green Belt Construction - $3.5 million

In addition to the projects above the MPO municipalities will be doing Re-Surfacing Projects and the following roadways will be either Striped, Marked, or Signed for Bicycle and Pedestrian.

Town of Arlington

· Airline Road – CSX to I-40 – Bike Lane

City of Bartlett

· Alturia Road – Summer to Yale – Yale to Constance a Bike Lane, Constance to Summer Signed Shared

· Bartlett Blvd – South City Limits to Memphis Arlington – Bike Lane

· Old Brownsville – Ellendale-Springtree and East of Rockyford-West of Gailyn Manor – Bike Lane

Town of Collierville

· Wolf River – Collierville Bible Church to Byhalia Rd – Bike Lane

· Houston Levee – Bailey Station to Winchester – Greenway

· Wolf River – Byhalia to Riding Brook Dr – Bike Lane

City of Germantown

· Farmington – Wolf River to Germantown – Wide outside lane Germantown to Exeter and Corbin to Wolf River

City of Memphis

· Perkins Extended – Walnut Grove to Poplar – Signed Shared Road Markings

· Vollintine – Ayers to Bellevue – Wide Outside Lane

· Peabody – Bellevue to Diana – Bike Lane

· Waring – Wells Station to Summer – Bike Lane

· Wells Station – Waring to Watts – Bike Lane

· Front – Union to EG Patterson – Signed Shared Road

· Norris – Mallory to Norris Circle – Bike Lane

· Germantown – Kingsland to City Limit South – Bike Lane

City of Millington

· Veterans Parkway – Raleigh-Millington to Navy – Bike Lane

· Veterans Parkway – North of Navy to US 51

If you have any questions about a specific project you may contract Tim Moreland, Memphis MPO Planner, at Tim.Moreland@shelbycountytn.gov or (901)379-7853.

Monday, March 16, 2009

My final days in DC

I'm sitting in a small, cozy cafe and bookstore in DC called the Potter's House, a subsidy/portion of DC's famous Church of the Savior, a very social justice oriented church that has a number of congregations that meet in homes throughout the city. I had never actually been to the Potter's House and I think it's quite nice. The book collection is superb and the tuna sandwhich wasn't bad at all!

I stopped into DC's City Bikes, voted the best shop in DC by readers of the weekly rag here. It was a neat shop--a well-behaved German Shepard chased a ball up and down the showroom, a mechanic who could have played guitar for ZZ Top built wheels, and bikes lined the place on two floors. I met the manager of the shop this past week, Jesse, a very nice guy who has started building his own bicycles frames here in DC.

The shop had a copy of the City Paper featuring a story about a lack of bicycle helmet use in DC. Its a fascinating story, and I'd love to know your thoughts. Check it out here.

Personally, I say put the helmet on. That way, you can get the issue off the table to focus on the creation of better bicycle facilities in urban areas. Call me old fashioned.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

It Starts Today

Ladies and Gentlemen--

Today I begin my journey into the heart of the blogosphere. Henceforth, this site will be the forum for my thoughts on cycling in cities around the world. I also hope it becomes a forum for discussion, a place for debate and creative discourse on how cities like Memphis, TN can be transformed by human powered transportation.

In the words of Captain Spock, oft quoted by Professor Luther Ivory: "Live long and prosper!"