Biking In Memphis

Biking in New Zealand is pretty easy. Where we live the roads either have bike lanes or are wide enough to accommodate both bikes and cars. I can do pretty much all my errands by bike without a problem so I rarely take the car.

However, I’m a bit nervous about biking while I’m living in Memphis.  In years past it has been known as a very unfriendly city to cyclists and I’ve heard some horror stories from friends who did try biking to work. Personally I never tried biking to work either since I usually lived 20-30 minutes away by car and bikes don’t mix with interstates.

Now though I’m living closer to my work place and biking to and from work is actually possible! I’m super excited about that. And since I’ve biked a bit in Downtown already I feel more confident about my ability to actually do this.

Plus since the last time I was in Memphis they have created MILES of new bike lanes! The street I’m on and both of the streets nearby leading downtown have new bike lanes. It’s pretty awesome!

For a little extra reassurance I’ve been researching routes and other cycling stuff in Memphis. I’ve found some great things about Memphis and biking in my search:

  • Memphis is one of six cities that have been chosen to get fast track protected bicycle lanes from Bikes Belong Foundation. The Green Lane Project is a cool effort working with six US cities including Memphis to help build world-class cycling networks on city streets in the next two years. This is huge for Memphis and makes me really happy!
  • Btw logoAnnual Bike to Work Day is on May 18th, which I can actually participate in! I remember this from last year and was so bummed that I lived too far away to ride there safely, so I’m super excited this year! You have to register this year though but that is easily done here.
  • Some cool Memphis bicycle related sites: Greater Memphis Greenline (multi use trails throughout the city which are really nice), Biking in MemphisBike Walk Tennessee, Livable MemphisFix Memphis., Memphis Bike Polo (I’d be scared to play but it looks cool).
  • City of Memphis Bike Route Tours and a map of proposed/future bike lanes in Memphis: Memphis Bike Lanes. Bike Lanes proposed by Mayor AC Wharton to be completed by 2013.
  • And what I was really looking for: Map of Bike-Friendly Streets in Memphis!! I’m using this to plan potential routes to work. Thanks to this map I confirmed what I thought would be a good route to take and will check it out for real once I get into the city. Looks like it will work perfectly!
  • I just found Kyle Wagenschutz’s website/blog Bike Ped Memphis this week. Kyle is the city’s Bicycle/Pedestrian Coordinator and he has done great things for biking in Memphis over the last couple of years and I’m excited to follow his blog on the topic.

I think Memphis could be a great city for cycling and it’s nice to see changes being made to move in that direction. Memphis gets a bad rap all the time from almost everyone but I love it here and always will. I guess I like an underdog with character. It makes me happy to see good things happening in the city, especially regarding one of my other loves – biking!

I’ll be writing a lot more about biking in Memphis once I actually pick up a bike and start doing it. For now I’m waiting on my bike I’m borrowing from my boss (should get it this weekend). I’m super excited to get it and get out there and test out all those new bike lanes! Wish me luck!

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Comments

  1. says

    “Biking in Memphis….” Sounds like you have a lot of good resources! I have to be honest, as a motorist, I’m scared of cyclists. They don’t always stay in their lane, and often are unpredictable. When I need to pass them, I get scared that I will hit them.

    However, I guess the same thing could be said of people who drive cars.

  2. says

    You are a brave person to bike to work in my opinion! As a Memphis driver, I know that it’s challenging enough to be in a car, let alone on a bike. I hope you only encounter bike-friendly drivers and safe streets!

    • Scout says

      Nice post. Memphis has definitely come a long way. We should go biking sometime soon! Maybe take a tour of bike lanes or go out to Shelby Farms, the SF or the Wolf River Greenway.

    • says

      Seriously! That’s why I’m nervous, but I plan on avoiding the busier streets. I won’t be on Union or Poplar or anything. Side/back streets all the way! Should be a bit easier. We will see. Hopefully I don’t give up after a week.

  3. says

    I think you will like it. There are a lot more group rides too so we could go with other people! And you are going to love the Greenline.

  4. says

    Yeah I think he will like that a lot. It’s one of the things I’m using to convince him to move here. ;)

  5. says

    You are so lucky to be living in a bike friendly city. I don’t think there are any bike friendly cities in Cape Town and with our traffic I wouldn’t dare ride a bike in the streets. Every so often we read about a cyclist that’s been killed on the roads. Craig and I plan to buy mountain bikes when I’m thinner and fitter and going out to my sister’s farming area on weekends to ride around the hills and vineyards.

  6. says

    There have been fewer cars-hitting-bicycles incidents in Memphis since the rule change last year; now you only get one point for hitting a bicyclist (previously it was two points).

  7. Janne says

    I went to grad school 1999-2001 in Memphis, and biked from downtown to the U of M for one year, and midtowon to the U the other. I was surprised at how easy it was bike, although that was mostly because there is SO much pavement and SO few cars/people. I was, however, almost the only bike anywhere. When I did see cars, they mostly gave me LOT of leeway. My theory was they’d never seen a bike before, at least not on a street.

    I’m amazed to see the routes on the maps you linked – but I really hope that the engineers and officials realize soon that more important than bike lanes and routes are the connections between the routes. Just like a road that is a mile long but doesn’t connect to any other roads, or a sewer line that doesn’t connect to sewage sources on one end and treatment plants on the other are useless, bike lanes that you can’t safely get to on your bike and that don’t go anywhere are useless.

    • says

      That’s cool Janne! I think it will be pretty easy too as long as I stay off the main streets. And since cars are overly scared of hitting someone on a bike the wider, slower side streets will allow them to leave lots of room. Lately though I’ve noticed an increase in bikes. I’m in midtown and I see several people biking every day which is awesome!

      You are so right about connections. I’ve noticed some of the bike lanes don’t connect to others and there are some weird gaps. I guess you can’t do it 100% immediately, so at least there is progress!

  8. says

    Oh, san Francisco is one of the six cities too. People bike here A LOT. I think I’ve seen the colored lanes, or maybe read something about it. That’s good, I hope the cyclists stay in their lanes and watch traffic signals, because they’re notorious around here for causing accidents and jams. One person got killed walking across the street by a bicyclist last month or the month before near my house!! But I agree it’s a great way to get around if everyone can make it work, better for the environment too.