Thursday, October 20, 2011

Walking and Biking: The infrastructure in Memphis hardly supports the lifestyle.

I believe that unless the powers that be in Memphis, Tennessee, decide to redesign our cities entire infrastructure to accommodate walkers and bike riders in a serious way, that our city will never be better off in the future. 

We could at least start off with a car-free day for the following street: Madison Avenue.

So many people have been debating over bike lanes for this street.

Of course, there will always be problems to resolve; and, they are brought up in nearly every argument against a car-free friendly city.

There has been ongoing problems with not having enough room to park vehicles within our city spaces, and there is also a problem with keeping property within those vehicles safe from would be criminals; or, what about the car-jacking at various corners that no one can hardly escape, as they pass through certain areas of town.  

Those who can avoid these sections of our city do so with in-depth pleasure.  

Those who cannot avoid it, actually run stop signs and red lights to avoid the people who hang out at these corners, making these intersections far more dangerous for everyone.  

In fact, our jail cells, here, are full of this group of people; yet our court systems are firmly fixed for making some serious money off this scenario; so they may not ever resolve this root problem.

On the other hand, if I am not mistaken, there are several new bridges and bypasses being planned, so that no one ever has to visit this city again; not even by accident.

Even if, or when, we redesign this cities infrastructure, there will also be bicycle parking problems eventually; and not to mention, there are few or no safe places to protect all the extra baggage that both walkers and bicycle riders bring along with them as they travel.

The market, nor the laws of our land, hardly caters to walk-bike citizens anyway - hint, hint, hint!

This is because most communities are simply not well designed to accommodate walkers or bike riders; and, until this actually happens, people will have to bike and walk much further away than ten minutes from their homes and businesses to meet most of their essential needs.

To offset these longer trips, walkers and bikers are forced to supplement their walk-bike needs by taking public transportation, which is at least 40 years behind the times in comparison to transit systems in other cities within the same region. 

Nonetheless, few public transportation systems in America accommodate large groups of people who have a lot of extra baggage, like grocery getting push carts, bikes, bike bags, groceries, and huge backpacks. 

As a car-free citizen for ten years in Memphis, Tennessee, I have tried every means of combined transportation methods to get around in this town comfortably.

Few of these methods work very well due to the fact that this city is designed to fill up spaces with personal vehicles whereby several bikes could be parked in these same spaces instead.     

I will share only one method I have used to get around this crazy town and allow you to imagine the other methods while you squirm in your seat.      

To illustrate, I have owned and operated a fold-up bicycle for several years. 

This bike worked very well for me, but only when I took some of my shortest trips, which did not  require me to use mass transit or carry along a lot of extra bulky and/or heavy baggage. 

I found out the hard way that these small bikes are not made for people like me who are over 6 ft. tall and who weighs in at around 180 lbs. --- OK, sometimes I weigh far more --- HAAAA ! 

My fold-up bike weighed about 30 lbs.

A couple bags of groceries weighed between 30 lbs. to 50 lbs.

My backpack often weighed around 10 lbs. to 20 lbs.

Between me and all my baggage, it sometimes averaged around 230 lbs. 

Moreover, one needs to be in fairly good physical condition to maneuver and balance a load like that for long periods without plenty of rest for recovery, good food, and water.

Putting on more weight nearly caused my fold up bike to shake uncontrollably, especially when I was going over ten miles per hour or applying the breaks down big hills.

Traveling any faster, and I swear, this bike would have collapsed right beneath me.

On another note, when the bus was over crowded, my fold-up bike and all my baggage was far to cumbersome to put onto my lap for long periods.

When the bus was over crowded, getting on and off the bus was difficult, as I was often blocked by those stinky ass butt to butt crowds who hardly moved to let anyone pass by them.

Ok --- my own ass might have been stinky too, but I will not admit it!

Anyway, most mass transit systems are simply not designed for moving people's extra baggage, and I did not mean my big butt.

Even still, if all these same people were to put bikes on the front of a bus, or inside of the bus, then there would not be near enough space to accommodate this large number of people or their baggage.

Seems that space is at a high premium no matter if we choose to drive, bike, use mass transit, or walk.

I have studied the car-free phenomena at the grass roots level for several years by participating in the process. 

And, I must say to you that being car-free in Memphis, TN, is not easy when mass transit does little or nothing to enhance this process, nor does this cities design. 

However, redesigning our communities for a car-free lifestyle is absolutely doable, whereby personal vehicles and mass transit are a mere afterthought to most anyone's walk-bike transportation choices.

As for other bicycle parking ideas, click the link below: