Friday, April 24, 2009

In Today's Commercial Appeal

A Gem:

125 years ago: 1884

Now that Memphis has several miles of paved streets it is likely that the bicycle, so extensively used in the East and in many Southern cities, will come into fashion here. But before it can it will be necessary for the city officials to repeal that old-fogie ordinance banning bicycles.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

An Unnecessary and Tragic Injustice

My intention for this post is not to be confrontational for the sake of confrontation. But in the words of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1967, "There comes a time when silence is betrayal."

I recevied the following email from the Memphis Hightailers this afternoon:

Bob Firehammer was killed while riding his bike on Hwy 64 last Wednesday. A vehicle ran off the road, hit Bob and he was apparently killed at the site. The Firehammer family are St. Francis parishioners and his son Alex went to school at Saint Benedict. Bob’s funeral was this morning at St. Francis.

Link to the online guest book

Fayette County - ROBERT LEE “Bob” FIREHAMMER, JR., 51, resident of Hickory Withe Community, recently retired Naval Captain after 26 years of active duty and husband of Debra Firehammer, died April 15, 2009.

Services at 10 a.m. Tuesday at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church at Cordova with a visitation at the church from 5 to 7 p.m. Monday.

Interment, with full military honors will be at 1 p.m. Tuesday at West Tennessee Veteran’s Cemetery. Captain Firehammer served as officer on board the USS Samuel B. Roberts when the ship struck a mine in the Persian Gulf.

He also leaves five children, his parents and three siblings. Memorials requested to the Firehammer Children’s Scholarship Fund c/o Navy Federal Credit Union. Peebles Fayette County Funeral Home—West Chapel Oakland, TN 901-465-3535

Let us be clear, when a bicyclist is killed by a car it is usually an accident. But we must be clear about the nature of an accident: if a car accidentally collides with a bicyclist for whatever reason, "accident" is indeed a reasonable explanation for what happened.

But accident is not an accurate word if a municipality cites "a fear of liablity" as cause for not making roads safer (i.e our own municipality currently refuses to create official "bike lanes" because they are afraid they could be sued if a cyclist is killed in or around the bike lane. Federal Law, in fact, exempts a city from liablity if the city designs bike lanes according to AASHTO guidelines).

If it is not up to a municipality to protect a bicyclist, whose responsibility is it?

The driver?

In the event of an accident involving a bicyclist, can a driver truly be held liable? Usually citations are written to one or the other car when two cars are involved in an accident. But even if the driver is held liable when a cyclist is hit, what are the conseqeunces for driver who kills a cyclist? A $50 fine for violating the TN 3 Foot ordinance?

Mr. Firehammer had 5 kids. He is a veteran, having fought in the Gulf War.

His death will likely be seen simply as tragic. But the real tragedy is that Mr. Firehammer's death may have been prevented. If a municipality does not do what is in its power to protect bicyclists, the words "tragic" and "accident" are in-suffcient words to describe what actually occured.

The "fear of liablity" as cited by a municipality may have in reality contributed to the death of Mr. Firehammer. A bike lane or a special facility designated for bicyclists may not have fully prevented Mr. Firehammer's death; on the other hand, it may have made the difference.

The problem is not simply that a municipality has neglected to protect bicyclists.

In fact, Tennessee State law do not provide rights and protections for cyclists killed in the roadways.

The point is this: noone should have to die needlessly. And a bicyclist should not have to fear that they may be killed for trying to do something good for their body, their community, and for our planet.

When a bicyclist is killed in a public roadway, if no protection was provided for them by a municipality, the word to describe the situation is not "accident." The word is unjust.

A municipality should take as many measures as are fiscally responsible to protect bicyclists. To do anything less is to accept that innocent people will be killed for riding their bicycle in the roadway. To accept this is to accept that which is unacceptable.

Copenhagen: City of Cyclists

Copenhagen - City of Cyclists from Colville Andersen on Vimeo.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Go Mike Crum!

'Natural' dream for cycling fan

At 30, he realizes goal as owner of frame-building shop

By Lesley Young

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Michael Crum's dream was to have his own custom bicycle frame shop by the time he was 30.

While he was working as a bike mechanic at Outdoors Inc., he told one of his customers about his plans, and word got around. Some time later, the customer's boyfriend came into the store and offered to help.

Now, at 30, Crum has received orders for eight custom bicycle frames in the past year since he and his silent partner started Magnolia Cycles.

"He just came in and told me he was interested in investing his money in something he was passionate about," said the Mountain Home, Ark., native.

Crum has worked on bikes since he was in junior high school, while participating in racing and mountain biking sports.

"I just fell in love with it. It was the only thing I stuck with," he said. "I lived in a small town, and the sense of freedom it gave you. ... You could ride anywhere on a bike, and I always had fun. It just felt natural."

The former art student completed a couple of courses in bicycle maintenance and frame building at the United Bicycle Institute in Ashland, Ore.

He also established a solid relationship with his metalsmith instructor while attending Memphis College of Art and learned what would prove to be useful brazing and metal fabrication techniques.

Crum builds custom frames for mountain bikes, road bikes and cyclo-cross bikes -- road bikes built to go off-road -- in a small wooden garage in the backyard of his home in the Vollintine-Evergreen neighborhood of Midtown.

Using a computer program, he customizes frames to fit a rider's size, riding style and festoonery -- color, bells and whistles -- by punching in the customer's measurements and getting a drawing with the information he needs to cut and weld the frame.

"I don't have enough control over some aspects, (and) I have actually considered just going back to my drafting table and drawing the design by hand," Crum said.

After he opened the business, the first frame he built was for himself.

"It sounds selfish," he says, but it was "mainly due to the fact that I was just getting back into brazing and did not want anyone riding that first bike aside from myself," he said. "I'm still riding it."

He says he'd like to one day make a penny-farthing bicycle, "the ones that have the really big front wheel and the small back wheel."

"It's a very different type of ride, and I think it would be interesting to learn how to make one."

He also hopes to get more involved in the Memphis cycling community.

"As a company, we really want to support local cycling and raise awareness of cycling," Crum says.

Michael Crum

Profession: Owner of Magnolia Cycles, custom bicycle frame shop

Phone: (901) 485-7021


Hometown: Mountain Home, Ark.

Family: Fiancée, Amber Ragland, 28; two dogs, Samson, 5, and Mischa, 1; and two cats, Boo, who weighs more than 20 pounds, and Shaggy.

Hobbies: Photography, painting and bike riding

Great Divide Mountain Bike Route

One of my dreams has been to ride this trail along the spine of the Rocky Mountains.

But I gotta do the world first.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Cycle For Safety Comin' Up!

Event Description:
This is an event for the whole family and our intention is to educate cyclists and the general public on bike safety rules and laws affecting motorists and cyclists. Remembering Cory Horton, one of the founding members of our team, is another goal of this event. This year we will have a shorter 34 mile ride, in addition to the 52 mile ride to Cory's memorial site. Also, a Fun Ride will be held on the campus of St. George's and will be a closed course. A raffle of cycle related items, will be given away at 2pm. Additional raffle and food tickets can be purchased at the event. Hamburgers and hot dogs with all the fixins will also be served at 1pm. Cool max tee shirts will be given to first 150 registered. Event packets can be picked up event day, or May 2nd at Bike World in Collierville, 763 West Poplar Avenue, from 10am-6pm. Everyone must sign waiver.

St. George’s Independent School, Collierville Campus

Schedule of Events:
•10:00 am - Start of 34 and 52 mile rides from St. George’s.
•12:30 pm - 5 mile Fun Ride Starts. This ride is for ALL ages and abilities. The ride will be on a closed course this year.
•1:00 pm - Kid’s Activities and Food Service begins. Hamburgers and hot dogs with all the fixings will be served to all registered participants. Separate food tickets can be purchased.
•2:00 pm - Raffle of cycling related items. All registered participants will receive one entry. Additional raffle tickets can be bought separately.

Cool max Tee shirts to first 150 registered participants with cycle safety bullet points on back.

$25 for the 32 and 54 mile rides. (Includes cool max shirt, raffle ticket and food.)
$12 for the Fun Ride. (Includes cool max shirt, raffle ticket and food.)
$5 Raffle ticket sold separately.
$5 Food ticket sold separately.

Register online at RacesOnline, or download and mail-in the registration form here.

For more information, contact Doug Ruddle at 901-355-5743 or by email at

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Bike Racks in Cooper Young

Memphis Commercial Appeal - Printer-friendly story
'Fine-art bike racks' in Midtown Memphis spotlight artists

By Christopher Conley

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Don't think of them as bike racks, but rather sculptures with the functional purpose of securing your bicycle.

Two artistic bike racks sprang up in front of Café Olé at Cooper and Young recently.

And artist Yvonne Bobo recently finished installing a green rack in a gingko-leaf motif in front of Burke's Books at the same intersection.

Eventually, there are to be a dozen of the fine-art bike racks around the neighborhood, symbols of a community that's both arty and urban, according to Cooper-Young Community Association president Debbie Sowell.

The bike racks are a way to promote cycling and support local artists, she said.

The racks are provided to businesses without cost, with funding from Revolutions Community Bicycle Shop and the UrbanArt Commission.

The Cooper Young organization also will oversee the repainting and refurbishing of the hallmark train-trestle art over Cooper at York this summer, Sowell said.

"We're known as an artsy neighborhood," Sowell explained. "We want people who come here to know they are in Cooper-Young."

Typical bike racks -- the ones with a row of metal slots -- secure only the front tire, making it fairly easy for thieves to remove the tire and walk away with the frame.

And, they're not much to look at.

"Most bike racks are not only ugly, they're dysfunctional," said Bobo, who has a studio in Cooper-Young. "We wanted something functional and artistic," she said.

Cooper street is lined with gingko trees, so planners decided to use the fan-shaped leaf pattern.

Other bike racks planned will use different motifs.

Bobo said she designed her bike racks through the fall, and began cutting the pattern and welding the stems in January.

The installation of bike racks is part of a broader campaign to further bicycling in Memphis, for aesthetic, health and environmental reasons.

Enthusiasts are pushing the concept of bike lanes, which have been a success in other cities.

"People see installing bike lanes as being like parting the ocean," said Anthony Siracusa, executive director of Revolutions Community Bicycle Shop in Cooper-Young. "But it's not only possible, it's inexpensive," he said.

"There's no way the bike is going to stay on the back burner in Memphis," he said. "The stars are aligned."

-- Chris Conley: 529-2595
Scripps Lighthouse

© 2009 Scripps Newspaper Group — Online

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Memphis Bike Map Project

Today I would like to launch the Memphis Bike Map Project. The map below is intended as a starting point for the creation of the ultimate Memphis Bike Map, which I hope we can put together through dialogue and feedback on this blog. I've identified a few routes that work well for bicycles throughout the city, but I would like to have your feedback on the routes I've got as well as suggestions about inclusions of other routes in order to create the best map possible.

So, you can do a couple things.

1) Click on the link to the map just below and leave a comment on Google Maps about a particular loop or section on the map. What you think of its overall quality, it's safety, the road conditions, lights, etc. Be as specific or as vague as possible!

2) Post your own map as a comment to my map with new route recommendations and I'll incorporate them into the Ultimate Map, which I'll try to update daily.

View The Memphis Bike Map in a larger map

Buenos Dias.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

I've got too much work to be focused on getting it done!

Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) Meeting next Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.

The BPAC meetings and all MPO meetings are public, so please make it a point to attend this meeting if possible. Tim is a wonderful facilitator with excellent insights on urban planning, and these meetings provide an inside look at how bicycle planning works in this city. In short, if you want a more bike friendly city, go to these meetings. Let me know if you want to ride out to the meeting, cause I sure will be doin' that. This from Tim Moreland:

This is a reminder that the next BPAC meeting will be held on Wednesday, April 15th at 5:30 pm. The meeting will be held in at the MPO’s conference room at 1075 Mullins Station Rd. Memphis, TN 38134. The agenda and minutes from the January 14th meeting are attached for your reference. I have also attached the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act projects where you can review the bicycle and pedestrian projects being funded. If you require any special assistance to attend this meeting please contact us at 901-379-7840.

Tim Moreland

Memphis MPO Planner

1075 Mullins Station Road - Rm 118

Memphis, TN 38134

(901) 379-7853

(901) 379-7865 (fax)

New Rotue (for me!) to Central Downtwon

This route takes us along very tame streets. Through Cooper Young and Central Gardens there are no main streets, and you get to cross Union at McNeil/Kimbrough (it changes names at this intersection), which is a small and manageable intersection. Take McNeil down to Jefferson, which dead ends at McNeil, and you'll take a left on Jefferson through all the condemned apartment buildings. There aint a damn thing goin' on in that neighborhood now. It's kind of sobering, but that is a topic for another post.

Once you're on Jefferson you'll cross Cleveland at a light, and then head over the I-240. This part and the next part--where you ride through the medical center--is the only somewhat scary section. Compared to Linden, though, I think this section of Jefferson is a piece of cake! In the midst of the Med. Center you'll come to Adams. It runs into Jefferson near the Med. Merge right onto Adams and before you know it you're in the VIctorian Village. This is a VERY COOL and underutilized part of Adams! Woo-hoo!

At this point you're practically downtown.


View Jefferson/Adams Downtown in a larger map

One of my Favorite Things

I can't cut and paste the pictures, but this is the intro to my favorite snippet on bicycle culture. Follow the link, and then follow the Copenhagenize blog. Seriously:

Here it is. A quick and easy - and very tongue-in-cheek - guide to determining if you live in a city with bike culture. All from the good people here at Copenhagen Bike Culture Blog [Cycleliciousness].

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

On Windsocks in Denmark

I'm pretty pumped about putting a wind powered generator on the handlebars of my bike while I tour around the world. This small wind generator manufactured by HYmini has received pretty good reviews. It comes with a half dozen cell phone charger plugs, and you can purchase plugs for the Iphone, PSP, and Nintendo DS. Nice.

Anyone used this thing? I'd be interested to hear some feedback.

I saw a lot of these last time I was in Denmark. I figured we were supposed to watch out for windsocks. Now I know they meant that it was kinda windy. Still, all that wind ought to come in handy with this clever little device on my bars...except for that part about actually riding into the wind.

The Jeff Roth 3 Foot Law

You may know that Tennessee has a 3-foot law, meaning that bicyclists must receive at least a 3 foot berth from cars when the car is passing the bicycle on a public roadway.

Well, you may not know that the law cannot be enforced by Memphis' Police. The reason?

The Roth Law is a state law, and as such only state police can enforce the law. The loophole has been explained to me in this way: it's all about who gets the money from the ticket.

Now, while it may not seem like a big deal--as far as I know, no ticket has ever been issued under the Roth Law though some of my colleagues in East Tennessee would know far better than I--the takeaway point is that the law has not existed on the books in Memphis.

Now it will:

Memphis Commercial Appeal - Printer-friendly story
Memphis City Council committee passes 8 ordinances

By Amos Maki

Originally published 09:40 a.m., April 7, 2009
Updated 09:40 a.m., April 7, 2009

A slew of new ordinances that match existing state law were approved by a City Council committee today.

The eight ordinances, which cover everything from the open container law to banning phony 911 calls, will still require three readings before the council before they become law. Each ordinance is a misdemeanor and punishable by a $50 fine.

City Atty. Elbert Jefferson said the city is pursuing the new laws because of changes mandated by the General Assembly through the Tennessee Municipal Reform Act, which required municipalities to pass their own versions of state laws.

Jefferson said city police officers had been writing tickets for offenses covered by the eight ordinances under a catch-all provision, but in the wake of the Municipal reform Act those tickets were being dismissed.

“When we became aware of that restriction, instructions were given to officers to not use (the catch-all provision) and if they did, they were dismissed,” said Jefferson. ”We’ve been working on this to enforce them at a local level as a code violation.”

The new ordinances could provide a fresh stream of revenues to the cash-strapped city. Memphis is facing a possible $15 million deficit this budget year and a $25 million deficit to begin the next budget year, which starts July 1.

“This is all based on generating revenue for the city and enhancing public safety,” said councilman Harold Collins.

The ordinances would:

** ban open containers of alcohol in a car

** prohibit the use of off-highway motor vehicles on highways

** punish vehicle owners who allow an unlicensed driver to operate a motor vehicle

** penalize transporting minors in the beds of trucks

** punish non-emergency 911 calls

** prohibit school bus drivers from using mobile telephones while transporting children

** order drivers to give three feet of clearance when passing bicycles

** ban the operation of low-speed vehicles on city streets.

Collins expressed some concern about overregulation and a money grab by the city. He wondered if parents could be cited for allowing their unlicensed children to drive a car with a parent along as part of driver training, a bonding experience for many children and parents.

“I don’t want our city to be so regulating and looking for the dollar that we can’t have these experiences,” said Collins.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Strange Rock

I seriously cannot get over how amazing the Memphis Greenline is going to be. It's going to be equally as amazing as the music in this video:

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Cyclists aid Revolutions

Cyclists aid Revolutions

Cirque Du Velos donates $410 to shop

By By Yale Spina, Special to My Life

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Cirque Du Vélos, a local cycling team composed of 22 males who all do something other than ride for a living, awarded Revolutions Community Bike Shop $410 to support its ongoing advocacy of bicycling in Memphis.

Revolutions, a ministry of First Congregational Church on Cooper in Midtown, "provides affordable bicycles, tools, and education for Memphians interested in making bikes a part of their lives," says director Anthony Siracusa. "It is composed of over 600 active members and over the past decade has helped thousands of cyclists find greater harmony on two wheels."

Revolutions used the funds to cover travel expenses to Washington to attend the annual Bicycle Summit in March. "We have the full support of District 9 Representative Steve Cohen to pursue the American Bikes Agenda," says Siracusa. "We fully expect that within 10 years Memphis will be the premier bicycling community in the South."

Cirque du Vélos, French for Circus of Bicycles, is a Memphis, Tennessee-based cycling club and amateur race team sponsored by Peddler Bike Shop. Formed in late 2007, Cirque du Vélos members share a common interest in riding competitively in local and regional organized rides and races. Membership is intentionally limited to a smaller, cohesive group of cyclists who share similar objectives and who see cycling not only as a competitive sport, but also as a means of sustaining excellent health and as a platform for benefiting the communities where we live, work and ride.

For information, visit

Midtowner Yale Spina is a member of Cirque du Vélos.