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.




attachment cycling - Tom Z

Memphis Critical Mass

Memphis Hightailers Bicycle Club