Friday, October 31, 2008

Check out the Wounded Warrior Soldier's Ride

A lot of my friends and neighbors are surprised when they find out that I am a former soldier. I served seven years on active duty in the US Army. I am a very good shot with the M-16 and I used to be pretty accurate with a hand grenade, too.  I was lucky-- while I served I  thankfully never had to go into battle. 

I grew up around military bases- my dad served 22 years on active duty in the Army before he retired. I went to a military elementary school, too. I was a Major in the 7th grade. Instead of regular recess we had marching drill practice a few times a week. That's a different way to grow up.

And, I am very nonviolent, a strong advocate for peace and social justice. I disagree with how the US decided to handle Iraq.  I don't like most of the military choices our government has made since WW-II. I don't like the way people get rich off of war. I don't like killing for profit. 

But, I am very pro-soldier. Soldiers are like firemen- they do their job, the job we the people tell them to do. They're just people, just like you and me.  

They are heros. Some of them die and others are severely wounded. 

Some Wounded Warriors are riding bikes through our fair city next Friday- join them if you can. Check out their website.... the pictures make me cry.

There is more about the local ride at my other blog,

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Will Americans ever bicycle like the rest of the world?

I found this at . Great photos of bike parking lots around the world. And, a decent essay on Americans and bike commuting. ~~ Cliff H.

Will Americans ever bicycle like the rest of the world?

by Melinda Briana Epler

After reading a post at Earth First, I thought I'd seek out and share some bicycle inspiration. The following photos were taken at train stations around the world:


Malmo, Sweden


Amsterdam, The Netherlands


Tokyo, Japan


Leuven, Belgium

Niigata, Japan

Niigata, Japan

Too Cold?



So... What are we waiting for?!

A couple of weeks ago I wrote Is Your Neighborhood Bikeable? to see if we couldn't get ourselves out of this biker's block. There are some resources there to peruse. And there were also some amazing comments. I'm going to reproduce one from LHT Rider here, because I think it's very useful.

If You Have Biker's Block.

by LHT Rider

It is a sad commentary on the culture we live in that so many of us are afraid to exercise our right to use the public roads in a non-polluting manner. Believe me, I know how you feel. I went from not riding my bicycle for many, many years and have since become a 4-season rider in the northern midwest. Here are some things that have helped me make the transition.

1. Set small, achievable, progressive challenges for yourself. Baby steps are important. See for yourself what you’re truly capable of and question your assumptions. If you are willing to test your preconceived notions, you might be surprised at the results.

2. Allow yourself to do what you need to in order to feel more comfortable. For example if the road immediately adjacent to your house is too scary, allow yourself to ride on the sidewalk for a short distance until you can get somewhere safer. This is legal in many communities. Just remember to: be nice - yield to pedestrians, be careful crossing driveways especially if you do not have a clear line of sight, and do not under any circumstances shoot out into intersections from the sidewalk as car drivers do not expect you to be there.

2. Get a mirror & learn how to use it. It’s much less scary if you know what’s coming up behind you. While some people have no problem just turning around to see what’s behind them while still maintaining a razor sharp straight line, a mirror allows you to check things out more quickly and without the risk of weaving (into traffic, the curb, a pothole etc.)

3. Plan your route. On a bicycle you would almost never take the exact same route as you would in a car (because that’s where all the cars are!). Your city may have a map of official bicycle routes (maybe even online!). This can be extremely helpful and make for a much more pleasant ride.

4. Educate yourself. Read up on how to ride in traffic or refresh your memory on the rules of the road. Learn how to use your gears. A bicycle should give you a mechanical advantage over walking. It doesn’t have to be hard (or racing fast). In addition, as Heather @ SGF says, think about what you’re afraid of happening & figure out what you would do if it actually happened. There’s lots of good advice out there on everything from gear to how to change a tire. (By the way, riding a bicycle really does not require spandex or lycra).

5. Be sure your bicycle fits you. (This is getting easier, but can be difficult for many women.) Also make sure it works properly. There may be adjustments or changes in equipment that can make your ride much more comfortable and enjoyable. I have only recently come to appreciate what an amazing difference tires can make in the of your ride. Think about getting a basket or pannier so that your bicycle can haul more than just you!

6. Demand cycling (and pedestrian) improvements and safety in your community. The only way it will get easier/better for cyclists is if we stand up and say that this is something we care about and should be a priority for where we live.


Maybe Your Neighborhood Isn't Bikeable Yet.

For many of us, I think it all has to begin with #6 above. Some of our neighborhoods just aren't bikeable. Some aren't even walkable. So while you are growing your own food and greening your indoors, please think about how we can make our communities more bikeable and walkable.

And when you come up with an idea, act on it. When you see an opportunity to do something about it, act on it. That opportunity could be big or small - a community meeting, someone who might listen via email or phone, a local election, even just a chat with a neighbor to start. And if someone else organizes a great, safe bicycling event, make sure you turn out in droves with friends and family.

Make these free and green transportation options possible in your neighborhood!

Need More Inspiration?

Ciclovia in Bogota is inspiring - 2 million people ride 70 miles of car-free streets, take exercise and dance classes, walk and join together every week. New York just shut down Park Avenue for bicycles. Portland closed streets for its "Sunday Parkways", and has a website to help you get around the city car-free. It's happening around the world.

In Seattle, Bicycle Sunday has been going on for as long as I can remember: all day traffic is closed to cars and trucks along the Lake Washington Waterfront. Now it has turned into Saturdays as well, and more are in the works! There's even a Pro Walk Pro Bike Conference here in September. It's not all we need, but it's a start - it raises awareness, it allows people to exercise for free, and it gives us hope for more. The Liveable Streets Network has more inspiring stories and ideas.

Let's work on it!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Bike Commuter tax break signed into law...

...becaue it was part of the 700 billion dollar bailout bill. It appears that a lot of congress folks traded their vote so that their favorite piece of legislation could get tacked on to the massive payout to Wallstreet. published this (below) on the bill- they will probably be the ones to listen to on this because they are in DC and they lobby Congress on behalf of bicycling. They are working to figure out how the provision will be implemented.

Bicycle Commuter Tax Provision Passes House and Senate (10.03.08) 
After seven long years, the bicycle commuter tax provision has finally passed both the House and Senate as part of the financial bailout package. President Bush said that he would quickly sign the $700 billion bailout bill. Thanks to all of you around the country who have contacted your congressional leaders over the years, and also thanks to Congressman Blumenauer and Senator Wyden for their continued insistence on having this benefit provided to bicycling Americans. Keep checking back here as we work on the implementation process. 

Thursday, October 2, 2008

TNT Ride over for the fall

Thursday Oct 2 is the last Hightailer's TNT ride for the year- the ride wil resume in the spring.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Critical Mass tonight at 6

You might want some lights-- white light and red reflector required during darkness per state law, and it is just stupid to be invisible to cars.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Progress made in attaining rail corridor for hiking, biking trail

Folks ask me about the greenline all the time, so I am posting this to give them a link to go to for the latest info. Sounds like good news to me, but I'll believe it when I see it.

From today's Commercial Appeal

'Greenline' is closer to reality with nonprofit, rail agreement

By Tom Charlier

Monday, August 25, 2008

In a possible first step toward developing a long-sought hiking and biking trail through much of Memphis, a nonprofit group says it has reached a preliminary agreement to acquire part of an idle railroad corridor on behalf of Shelby County.

Under the deal, Memphis Community Connector Inc. will pay CSX Transportation $5 million for rights to a 100-foot-wide strip of land extending from just north of Shelby Farms westward to near the Poplar and Union viaduct. The purchase would take in the western half of a 13.34-mile CSX rail corridor that extends east almost to Houston Levee Road.

Using funds donated by anonymous individuals and foundations, the nonprofit would buy the land and turn it over "straight to the county," said Charles F. Newman, a lawyer for Memphis Community Connector.

Final details must be resolved before a purchase agreement is signed, but many of the terms have been worked out, Newman said. The acquisition would clear the way for the county to begin work on a "greenline" park containing a multi-use trail.

"We've been working on this for over a year. It's been a difficult negotiation," Newman said. "Obviously, we're pleased to have reached this point."

Efforts to contact officials at Jacksonville, Fla.-based CSX since late Friday have been unsuccessful.

But county officials, who along with city leaders have been seeking to buy the railroad right-of-way for some five years, hailed the progress.

"This is a significant step forward in connecting our neighborhoods in a way that has not been possible in the past," County Mayor AC Wharton said in a prepared statement.

"This segment is a critical piece in our trail system plan, linking communities in the core city to Shelby Farms and areas beyond."

Andy Cates, founder and board chairman for Memphis Community Connector, called the tentative agreement a "very important milestone" in the development of an amenity that will greatly enhance opportunities local residents have for recreation and fitness activities.

The breakthrough comes two years after city and county officials broke off negotiations with CSX because the railroad had been seeking up to $17.8 million for the entire 13.34-mile corridor.

The acquisition will be made under the Rails-to-Trails provisions of the National Trails Act. It permits the county to construct and operate a trail system on the property while maintaining CSX Transportation's rights as the underlying owner, recognizing the possibility, however slight, that rail service could someday be restored.

Nationwide, some 15,000 miles of Rail-to-Trails projects have been established.

As for a timetable on the final purchase and the beginning of work on the greenline, Newman said, "It's very difficult to predict."

The rail corridor dates back 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, and in recent weeks it has been removing the rail and cross-ties.

The line still has not been formally declared abandoned by the federal Surface Transportation Board. But the board has granted the nonprofit, the county and CSX an extension on certain legal deadlines to allow for more time to negotiate details.

Although they eventually want to acquire the eastern half of the corridor as well, officials with the non-profit say they'll first concentrate on completing the purchase and development of the western portion.

-- Tom Charlier: 529-2572

Friday, August 22, 2008

Memphis Cyclist Pulled Over by Shelby County Sheriff

Hi folks- got this e-mail this morning- thought you would be interested. My comments will be posted below eventually when I get the time.

It’s about 9 am Thursday, August 21. I am cycling to work down Germantown Road as I have safely done daily for four years. The traffic light is red for the southbound traffic at the Trinity intersection. I am stopped in the outside lane (next to the right-turn only lane) when the light turns green. (I ride in the shoulder of Germantown Parkway where there is one. Otherwise, I am within 3 feet of the lane edge.) There are no cars behind me. A lane over, a scruffy looking guy in a plain gray car rolls down his window and shouts “Get off the road.” This happens occasionally, so I shout “No” as I ride off, signaling that I am merging into the new outside lane formed at that intersection.

Suddenly, the plain gray car starts flashing his police lights and sounding his siren as he pulls behind me. It’s an un-marked sheriff’s car. I stop in the driveway of Wal-mart and Target. He gets out of his car, slips on his lanyard with a star and asks, “What did you say?” I admitted that I said “No”. “You don’t tell an officer no in the line of duty,” he says. I apologized and admitted that I was wrong to do so.

He says that I can’t ride on Germantown Parkway. He asks, “How long have you lived in Memphis?” I told him that I have lived here for the last 27 years, as if that mattered. “You can’t ride on the road. You don’t have a tag and registration. You’re impeding traffic.” I explained that traffic is impeded if there are four cars behind a slow moving vehicle, and they have no safe way to pass. I carry a copy of T.C.A. 55-8-171 to 174 and I offered to show these to him.

“I don’t come into your office telling you how to do your job, don’t tell me how to do my job. I don’t want to see the law. You can’t ride on the road. Your bike has to be registered. Consider this a warning. If I see you on the road again I’ll give you a citation. If your still riding on the road, I’ll throw you in jail.”

Unfortunately, I was so rattled that I failed to get the officer’s name or badge number. I had no way to know he was a police officer being scruffy sitting in an unmarked car a lane away. I am shocked how ignorant of the law he was, unwilling to see the law. He was more upset that I said “no” to someone who looked like a day laborer.

I am e-mailing you to publicize this mis-treatment and ignorance by an officer of the law.

Dave W.

Cliff's comments: Who trains these sheriffs?
"You can’t ride on the road. You don’t have a tag and registration. You’re impeding traffic. Bikes have to be registered” These are all wrong, legally. I wish the officer had given the cyclist a citation-- my guess is he didn't get a citation because the officer knew it would not hold up. What a bozo.

Friday, August 15, 2008

USM to start bike loan program

August 13, 2008 12:54 PM ET, HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP)

- The University of Southern Mississippi will begin an initiative this fall to encourage bike riding on campus.

The bicycle loan program's aim is offer a more eco-friendly mode of transportation and encourage exercise. Under the program, bicycles are provided for faculty, staff and students to use, then they leave the bikes behind for the next rider.

The bicycles will be painted the same, bright color for easy identification.

USM President Martha Saunders said a similar program was implemented at her previous institution, the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

News, Progress, from Anthony at Revolutions


First off, I hope each of you are enjoying this beautiful morning while still managing to stay cool. The dog days of summer are upon us, but thankfully, this summer has been relatively mild and the cycling has been wonderful. Looks like we have a month of heat ahead of us before the cool autumn days make their appearance. Cycling at night with lights or in the early morning is a great alternative to the heat.

I am writing today to report on a meeting Nate Ferguson and I had with City Councilman Jim Strickland and City Engineers John Cameron and Wain Gaskins this past Friday. The topic for the meeting was making Cooper Young into Memphis' first bike friendly neighborhood, but as expected, the vision and scope of the meeting expanded to include planning for bicycles all over Memphis. I had brought with me the "Chicago Bicycle Design Guide," a city planning resource that the city of Chicago had put together to guide road planning for the inclusion of bicycles. It is a very thorough manual, and I thought it to be a wonderful resource for us in Memphis. Turns out, the engineers had already begun work on a Memphis design guide. They are in the final stages of development for the guide, and as soon as I see it I will send it to you all.

Instead of talking specifically about Cooper Young, which they agreed would be a great place to start striping bike lanes in Cooper Young, and which they also agreed to begin looking seriously at in the next couple months, we talked about making standards for the city and implementing these standards on every newly paved old road and every newly constructed road county wide. The engineers thought this was a good idea, and encouraged us to pursue ratification of such a standard in the new Unified Development Code which is in the works right now. I think we might get that through, and there are a number of people working on this code who might be able to help. If we can ask that all newly paved roads be required to have some sort of bike facility (if they are not too busy or too fast--think Poplar or Union) based on the new Memphis bike design guide, we will see an incredible number of bike facilities all over Memphis. Not just bike lanes, but sign shared roadways, marked wide outside shoulders, and other safety provisions.

The engineers said they have considered creating a bicycle advisory committee to the city engineering department, which I offered to help assmeble and be a part of. This would provide very close oversight of road development in the city for cyclists, and would guarantee that cyclists have an active role in the planning of city streets. Councilman Jim Strickland asked that the enigneers stay in contact with us so that we can continue our work together. On the whole, this meeting was an excellent start to an ongoing dialogue between bicyclists and city planners. This was an unprecedented meeting of minds in Memphis, and we hope it is the beginning of a new form of planning in the city.

Finally, this weekend Revolutions will host the last of six classes on bicycling. The class is called "Advocating for Safer Streets," and will provide a summary of the last five years of advocacy work for bikes in Memphis, give a synopsis of where we are today, toss out a few ideas for the future, finally offering practical strategies for making the streets of tomorrow a reality today. Class starts at 10 a.m. on Saturday and will run til noon. Please RSVP in advance, as there is limited space.

Many of you have seen the improvements going on at Revolutions. If you haven't please stop by and pick up a paint brush, or, just hang out and check out the space. It's an exciting time for bicycling in Memphis!

I hope to see some of you in the shop soon!

First Congregational Church UCC
Revolutions Community Bicycle Shop
1000 S. Cooper St.
Memphis, TN, 38104
(901) 949-1201

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

August 16th Ride for Awareness

Check it out --

Looks both reasonable and fun. Hope to see you there!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Sunday, August 3, 2008

I feel some hope- Bike-powered generators

I feel some hope now and then when I see efforts like this. I should build one for my house!

Wired Science Article

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Pedal power challenges car culture as cyclists seize Los Angeles freeways

Cyclists on a gridlocked Los Angeles freeway show that cycling is faster than driving

Los Angeles, meet the bicycle.

Of all the least-expected consequences of soaring fuel prices, this has to be near the top of the list: swarms of cyclists are taking to the intimidating, multi-lane thoroughfares of Los Angeles, some even defying the law and whizzing between the stationary cars on the gridlocked freeways.

The result is a city of diehard motorists in need of some anger management. Criminal charges have already been filed against one driver accused of deliberately braking in front of two cyclists in the wealthy suburb of Mandeville Canyon — home of the world's most famous Hummer-driving road hog, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Both cyclists ended up in hospital.

Meanwhile, pedestrians are beginning to repeat the constant gripe of the modern Londoner: traffic-dodging cyclists are hogging the “sidewalk” and almost knocking them off their feet.

The city is so alarmed by this clash of car culture and pedal power that it has enacted an emergency plan, which so far consists of a Cyclists' Bill of Rights and a public “conversation” about how everyone can get along without killing each other. More meaningful developments are also afoot: the city has hired Alta Planning & Design, a planning consultancy, to revamp its haphazard and under-maintained cycle lanes and come up with cyclist-friendly initiatives.

Even in liberal LA, however, there is an element of political antipathy in this showdown. Even if cyclists do not overtly consider themselves to be combating everything from obesity to global warming when riding on two wheels, motorists tend to perceive their every on-road manoeuvre as holier-than-thou.

The Cyclists' Bill of Rights has done nothing to disabuse motorists of the notion that all cyclists are condescending, Obama-cheering elitists. The document states that cyclists are an “indicator species” of a healthy community, and represent a solution to environmental destruction and gridlock. One pro-cycling group, the Crimanimalz, organises frequent law-defying rides to prove how much more efficient two-wheeled transport can be.

Yet the problems of cycling in Los Angeles go deeper than just dealing with touchy and credit-crunched SUV owners. The summer heat can be unbearable. Then there are the poorly maintained surfaces, the wheel-buckling storm grates and the debris that slides into the road after the occasional heavy rainstorm.

Brad House, a member of the Los Angeles Bicycle Advisory Committee, speaking at a meeting of the city's new bicycle task force, said: “We are the illegitimate bastard child of the transportation industry.” Having apparently never encountered a London taxi driver while on two wheels, he added: “In Europe, motorists are very respectful of cyclists.”

Monday, July 28, 2008

Memphis roads not friendly for bicyclists

As gas prices rise, more are using pedal power

By Don Wade

Monday, July 28, 2008

For more than a year, Jane Fadgen had been commuting by bicycle from her Germantown home to her job as a registered nurse at St. Francis-Bartlett.

As she would leave early in the morning, well before sunrise, her husband Danny would ride halfway there with her and then return home. Her reasons for making the 10-mile one-way trip by bike were simple: the cost of gas, a love of cycling, and "we're environmentally tuned in."

A few weeks ago, at 4:45 a.m., Jane and Danny Fadgen were riding north on Germantown Parkway. They had just passed the Chick-fil-A on the right-hand side of the road and were crossing the bridge over the Wolf River.

Their bikes were outfitted with blinking red tail lights and each wore reflective helmets. Jane also had on a reflective vest.

"Doing everything we can to be safe," Danny said.

The driver of the car that struck Danny apparently didn't notice. Danny estimates he flew 25 yards after being launched from his seat.

"The soles of my shoes ripped off and were still on the bike," said Danny, who suffered two compression fractures in his back and is in a brace. "I could hear the brakes squealing the whole time I was flying around."

Two vs. four wheels

Danny Fadgen, 47, has been riding road bikes for 30 years. In many respects, the squealing brakes he heard echo throughout Memphis' cycling community and serve as a warning signal to anyone who rides two wheels on the same streets dominated by drivers with four wheels.

By Tennessee law, drivers of motorized vehicles are required to maintain at least a three-foot distance from bicycles.

It's a good law, but it's broken all the time.

"It frightens me when experienced riders are getting hurt," said Clark Butcher, a 24-year-old associate broker with Marx & Bensdorf who rides for an elite cycling team sponsored by the company.

Jimmy Reed, 51, who is president at Marx & Bensdorf and an experienced competitive cyclist, said that metro Memphis drivers, in general, are not cyclist-friendly. "It's just odd," Reed said. "We're viewed as the enemy."

Said Butcher: "In the average driver's mind, the cyclist is in the way and he's using a bike because he doesn't have any money."

Money isn't what motivates Reed and Butcher to ride, and the desire to save a little gas money wasn't the only thing motivating the Fadgens.

But paying more at the pump has begun to have a tangible effect on who is willing to use pedal power to get to and from the office, and more people are viewing their bicycles as means of transportation and not just as an avenue for recreation.

Kyle Wagenschutz, who lives in the Cooper-Young neighborhood and works in the White Station Tower in East Memphis, is readying a bike for daily commutes. He also volunteers at Revolutions Community Bicycle Shop at First Congressional Church.

"We've seen a huge increase in the past six months in the number of bicycles being repaired or built up," Wagenschutz said, adding that bicycle riding seems to be gaining traction in this economic recession.

"Age, gender, race . . . it doesn't seem to be escaping any demographic," he said.

Count Brent Berry, 34, among those committed to commuting by bicycle.

Three days a week Berry commutes from his home in Cordova to his job as a sales manager at Bluff City Sports in Midtown. He leaves at 6 a.m.

"On my morning route, I usually see 10 other bikes," Berry said. "A month ago, I probably saw three."

It's a 16-mile trip one way and his is not a route for the faint of heart -- especially when returning home during rush hour.

"I probably hit three of the five busiest streets in Memphis," he said. "And if you're an experienced rider, not timid, it's not a bad route."

Berry's homeward path has him starting out in Cooper-Young, making a right on Central Avenue and then a left onto Goodlett, which is almost always highly congested.

He makes a right turn onto Tuckahoe which turns into Shady Grove, and then turns right on Humphreys Blvd. Humphreys becomes Wolf River Parkway, from which he turns left onto Germantown Parkway -- the busiest and probably the most dangerous intersection on his route.

Next, he travels across the very bridge where Danny Fadgen was hit. Berry makes a right on River Bend, a right on Walnut Grove, where the speed of traffic is fast and there's nowhere for a bike to hide, and follows that to North Forest Hill Irene and his home in Cordova. "Friday afternoon's the worst time," he said. "Everybody's ready to get home."

On the road again . . .

Reed said the three most important reminders for any cyclist are: wear a helmet, wear bright clothing and pick the safest routes possible. It's also crucial to know when you have to maintain speed.

Jane Fadgen learned this lesson riding home on Germantown Parkway. She won't ride during rush hour, but even in the mid-afternoon Germantown Parkway is hazardous: Some portions have no shoulder.

"I'll sprint as hard as I can" to get through those spots, Jane said. Once, as she was pushing to get to the next stretch of shoulder, a woman behind her hit the horn.

"There was nothing either of us could do," Jane recalls, "but she didn't want to wait 50 yards."

Since Danny's accident, Jane has not been able to bring herself to ride. But Danny, with a generally good prognosis that does not include surgery, still speaks of the two of them making cross-country bike trips in the next few years and taking their son, now 11.

Danny said with confidence: "You can't be scared by one freak accident."

But you can be educated.

So, Jane wonders if some of the very people who honk at cyclists now might opt for two wheels if gas climbs to $5 or more a gallon.

"I'd like to think I'd see them on the road one day," she said. "Maybe they'll be a little more sympathetic."

The economic crunch

This is another in an occasional series looking at the effects of the economy on everyday people. Know someone, or a business, hurting or benefiting from the current economic climate? We'd like to hear about it. Contact reporter Don Wade at or by calling 529-2358.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Revolutions Community Bicycle Shop needs volunteer mechanics

Revolutions Community Bicycle Shop needs volunteer mechanics

If you have spent some time working on bicycles in a professional shop setting, or you've learned the basics about bike repair from reading repair manuals and practicing at home, Revolutions needs you to help out in our shop! Revolutions is open two days a week for repairs and services: Every Thursday from 6:30-8:30 p.m. and every Sunday from 2-5 p.m. If you would be interested in helping us repair bicycles as a volunteer, we would love to have you. Contact Anthony at or 901.949.1201 for more information.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Don't ride too fast tomorrow--

Or at least, if you do ride fast, hold your breath!

From the National Weather Service



Common sense rules in sharing road

This was published in the CA letters to the editor section today:

Common sense rules in sharing road

The bicycle is often my means of getting to work, school, the theater and church. I can stop by putting my foot to the ground if my brakes fail at 10 miles per hour. I can see, hear and sometimes smell cars approaching. I don't have a radio, cell phone, beverage or children to distract me.

I regularly travel on Linden Avenue, one of the few thoroughfares actually wide enough to accommodate bicycles. Yet drivers seem insistent on making it a four-lane road. (Sometimes there are even three cars side by side headed west at the intersection with Pauline Street.) The bicycle has been a means of transportation since the late 18th century, yet some drivers seem to think that cyclists ought to be put on reservations.

Comparing bicycle laws to motor vehicle laws is complicated. Common sense tells us that bicycles are permitted in many places cars are not and vice versa. However, in answer to the writer of your July 10 letter "Cyclists have responsibilities, too," my only problem with stopping at a four-way stop is that if I arrive at the intersection first and come to a complete stop, guess who thinks they have the right of way? Yep, the driver, who usually didn't come to a complete stop. Rolling on through an intersection, if it's clear, seems to be less annoying to all parties.

Ron Gephart


Monday, July 14, 2008

WREG-TV Memphis - Man to serve 8 years in prison for bicyclist death

MARYVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - An eastern Tennessee man has been sentenced to eight years in prison in the death of a bicyclist.

Tommy Lee Carroll pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicular homicide in the 2006 death of Jeffrey Roth and was sentenced Monday in Blount County Circuit Court.

The 48-year-old Friendsville man struck Roth while he was riding on U.S. 321 near Maryville.

Carroll's attorney, Steve Ward, says his client may have been suffering a seizure at the time of the accident. Carroll was not taking prescribed medicine to prevent seizures because he could not afford it.

Life Cycles: Time has never been better for cycling

By Anthony Siracusa

Monday, July 14, 2008

About 30 years ago, Lewis O'Kelly started riding his bike to work.

By car, it took 15 minutes, he spent another 15 minutes finding a parking space and then needed 10 more minutes to walk from his car to Manning Hall at the University of Memphis, where he taught physics for 34 years.

The entire affair took 15 minutes on the bike. "I've been near-frozen and almost drowned. I've done the trip when it was 10 degrees. It got easier over time, but the problem was I kept getting older." Now 76, O'Kelly doesn't ride anymore. He had one knee replaced years ago, and the other one continues to give him problems. Though he no longer spends time on the bike, O'Kelly remains a passionate cyclist.

His love of cycling in Memphis grew after joining the Memphis Hightailers in 1983. He started riding as many as 50 miles a week. He rode everywhere on a bike, and spent his free time on the weekends riding with the Hightailers.

"It's nothing to get from East Memphis to Downtown on a bicycle," he says. He and the Hightailers would ride a still frequently used "East-West Passage" from Audubon Park to the river. "We rode in Raleigh and Frayser, and even had a route down McLemore all the way to Martin Luther King Jr. Park."

Riding bicycles is as much about socializing and building relationships as it is working out and burning calories. O'Kelly remembers that his friend Charles Finney encouraged him to stay in the saddle. "Charlie would ride by my house at 6 a.m. and whistle just to make me feel guilty for lying there."

Finney, who I knew as "Mr. Bicycle" during my early days as a Memphis bicycle mechanic, founded the Memphis Hightailers in 1963. Finney has been cycling since at least 1938, when he was hired to work as a delivery man for Western Union. He was riding his bike everywhere anyway, so why not get paid for it? After starting a family, Finney put the bike away for awhile, only to find his love for cycling was rekindled after a ride to Sardis Lake with his son in the 1950s.

When Finney founded The Memphis Hightailers Bicycle Club, it was a resource for bicyclists. In the 1960s, only one bicycle shop was operating in Memphis and riders had to help one another plan routes, find equipment and complete repairs. The foam bicycle helmet common to our time had not even been invented.

O'Kelly and Finney are in the company of more than a century of bicycle commuters. While bicycling is nothing new in Memphis, today more Memphians are looking to the bike as they look away from the gas pump.

The gas crisis actually offers Memphians an opportunity. O'Kelly and Finney fell in love with riding when bikes were heavy and a comfort bike was an oxymoron. Today, the equipment is better than ever, we have actual helmets, and in Memphis it is possible to take back roads almost everywhere.

In fact, though Memphians have been bicycling for decades, the time has never been better to be on a bike.

Memphian Anthony Siracusa is a student at Rhodes College, a member of Memphis' Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee, executive director of Revolutions Community Bicycle Shop and a daily cycling commuter. Contact him at

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

At the bike lane meeting

Kinda boring so far... nice ac, though.
sent via Treo

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Let's Roll--- CBHS, tomorrow!

Let’s roll to CBHS!

Tomorrow night (Thursday) at CBHS there will be a meeting regarding the installation of bike lanes on parts of Shady Grove Rd and on Brierview.

The meeting is at Christian Brothers High School at 6:30 pm. City officials and engineers will be there.

Some of us will ride our bikes to the meeting. Here are some options for you to pick from if you want to ride with others.

From east Memphis, cyclists will gather at the Super Lo parking lot at 5:45 or so, with a roll out no later than 6 pm. We’ll try to stay together so we arrive together. The pace won’t be fast. It is only 4 miles or so to CBHS from Super Lo. Mountain bikes, commuter bikes, recumbents, fixies, and even high dollar road bikes are all welcome to join in this bike caravan.

From Midtown, there is a ride organized by the cyclists at Revolutions. The ride will leave from Revolutions (First Congregational Church, 1000 S. Cooper) at 5:15 p.m. in order to make it to the meeting by the start time of 6:30 p.m.

Or, if you just roll down Shady Grove, my guess is that you will eventually hook up with someone else going to the ride.

By the way, headlights are required by TN law after dark, and they really increase your visibility. And, a red rear blinky taillight is a must after dark. Helmets are a smart choice, too.

I don’t know anything about bike parking at the meeting – I don’t think they’ll have valet bike parking—thus we might need 5-10 minutes to lock up or otherwise secure the bikes. Some might prefer to freshen up, especially if it is 95 degrees like it has been lately.

Hope to see a lot of y'all there!

Cliff H.




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Memphis Critical Mass

Memphis Hightailers Bicycle Club