For the next three and a half weeks, my family and I will be in Oregon experiencing what it’s like to be in the #5 rated Bicycle Friendly State. We started off in Portland (which is a Platinum level Bicycle Friendly City), so that we could look around a bit and pick up our custom ordered family cargo bike. I’m here in Oregon with my husband, Teddy, our four year old, Miss Bean and our one year old, Little Bear. You’ll see them in a lot of pictures, so I wanted you to know who they are.
This weekend, we head down to Ashland to spend most of the rest of our time there. I am going to take three weeks of classes at United Bicycle Institute where I will get to learn major skills in bike maintenance, as well as gain some more ideas on how successful shops run. And, Teddy thought the classes sounded so good, he’s going to take Week 1 along with me. As volunteers at Revolutions, we hope to use this knowledge to increase what Revolutions can offer, especially to women and families who want to bicycle around Memphis.
On Day One as we moved around town, I thought a lot about what a bicycle friendly city looks like. When Steve Clark, from the League of American Bicyclists, was in Memphis, he said that a truly bicycle friendly town should look like people bicycle in it. I remember feeling a little annoyed when he said that he rode from Downtown to Midtown on Union. Well, of course Memphis doesn’t look bicycle friendly if you ride on Union! But Steve pushed us and said that there has to be more that is obvious: bike corrals, signage, lots of people on bikes. Well, after having spent only a day in Portland, I think I have a much better idea of what he was talking about. Bicycle stuff is everywhere! It’s in crazy art that people have in, on and around their own homes, it’s on painted lanes and signage for how to use the lanes, it’s on street signs, just to make things look pretty.
And the bicyclists. Good grief, there are so many of them!!! I’ve been trying to get a really good picture for you. But until I do, just imagine that you’re on a group ride. Except that we’re not on a group ride! Masses of people are just out cycling wherever they are going, in all sorts of clothing, with all sorts of set-ups to carry their stuff. It’s awesome!!!
We were stopping here to lock up and go into a store. At the intersection in front of us, you can see four riders waiting for the light to change. Okay, four riders. No big deal. But in the few minutes it took Teddy to lock up the bikes, I think the light must have cycled six or so times. And every time there was another group of riders waiting!
Look at this clever green lane. The cars are supposed to stop where it says, “Wait here.” The bicyclists are meant to move up in front of the cars, and out of their blind spots. Nobody seemed to get impatient with the bicyclists. And this intersection saw a lot of traffic, in the little time we were watching.
This was across the intersection from the previous photo. Can you see that under “Do No Enter” it says, “Expect bicycles”!
On a couple of the bike routes, I saw signs that gave destinations and the amount of time to them by bicycle.I also saw a few signs that said “No Bicycles.” They were in places like a really steep ramp into a parking garage, or a track with fake turf on the field. Signs like all of these indicate to me that folks expect there to be a lot of bicycles around.
And then there was the UCC church. They didn’t look to have a bicycle co-operative in their basement, like 1st Congo does. But they did have bike rack just outside their front door.
And finally, when we are traveling, we never want to waste a meal on bad food. This has been no problem in Portland. In the short time we’ve been here, we’ve already eaten delicious Thai, Indian and Korean. As we were looking for breakfast on our first morning, we saw four bicyclists locking up their bicycles at a deserted looking Thai noodle house. We followed them in and it was amazing!
So, that’s what we’ve seen so far. We’re having a great time and we are excited to experience more bicycle friendliness!! I’ll be posting here, regularly. So, check back and see what other good ideas we can use to make Memphis a Platinum city, too!