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Monday, June 19, 2017

One year can forever change your life

One year can forever change your life
By:  Michael Lander

Dr. Billy McCann has had his Shapleigh's Special bicycle for about 72 years now, having purchased
it in 1945.  That was an important year in his life and in the world since that is the year that
brought an end to WWII.

The year was 1945.

It was the year that Billy Westmoreland McCann got his first bicycle and it was the same year that his life forever changed when he also gave his life over to his Lord and Savior,
Jesus Christ.

In 1945, the world was still embroiled in the
Second World War, but it was the final year of that worldwide conflict that would, by its end, take the lives of millions and completely change the world in many ways that are still being felt today.

McCann was much too young, at the time, to serve, and so, like most boys then or even now, his mind was on playing and having fun and for him that meant having a bicycle to ride.

“I remember being in our kitchen asking permission from my dad about buying a bike from a boy who lived down the street from us,” McCann recalls.

“I had a little money saved up from birthday gifts and small jobs that I had done.  It was not an easy task to convince my dad about getting this, but he finally relented and agreed to it after I told him that this was absolutely the way that I wanted to spend my savings,” McCann said.

“Because of the war, most of the materials that were produced were used for the war effort, and that left very few things like bikes in the market place and so they were in very short supply, which made it even more special to be able to have one,” he said.

Dr. Billy McCann's Shapleigh's Special has the original parts and even the original paint job on it.  An
attempt was made to donate this bike to the Bicycle Museum of America earlier this year and
McCann hopes that it will ultimately end up in a place like that.

This first bike of his was called a “
Shapleigh’s Special,” and, as hard it might be to believe, it is a bike that he still has to this very day.

He believes that the bike was produced for a hardware store by the name of Shapleigh, in St. Louis, and that it was made by Westfield Manufacturing, which was also known as Columbia.

“Except for showing its age, the bike is pretty much like it was when I bought it about 72 years ago.  The last time that I remember riding it was about 66 years ago.  Since then, my parents kept it during all the years while I was in school and while I was in the service and, for the last 50 years or so, it has been at my and my wife’s home,” McCann said.

As his family grew, McCann bought
Schwinn bicycles for all of them and he rode one of these as recently as two years ago.  And, along with his Shapleigh, he still has the other five bikes that he bought for his family back in the early 1970’s.

Even though he’s had bicycles for the better part of his life, the most important thing to him was the first steps that took place in his walk of faith back in 1945.

“I was attending a church youth week and was sitting in a crowded space, on a folding metal chair, when I felt compelled and moved by the Holy Spirit.  I was blocked in, but I pushed my way to the front of the church, knocking over several chairs along my way, to accept Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior,” McCann said.

Dr. Billy McCann and his wife, Betty, have been married for over 59 years.  This photo of the two of
them was taken in the cliff side village on southern Italy's Amalfi Coast in October 2016.

“I was surprised at myself for being so bold, but I will never forget how clear it was to me that I needed to enter into the teachings of Jesus and to become a true follower of His.  That, for me, was the start of a life-long journey that has meant so much to me and has brought me so much happiness,” McCann said.

Today, Dr. McCann and his wife, Betty, are members of
Trinity Baptist Church and have been since the church was established in Cordova in 1994.

“We love our church, our wonderful pastor,
Dr. Richard Hipps, and our church family at Trinity,” McCann said.

“Through our pastor’s leadership and his sermons, we are inspired to continually strive to live our lives as Jesus would want us to, to reach out to our local community and to help and to serve the spiritual needs of as many people as we can, and to support local, state, and international missions,” he said.

Dr. McCann said that his faith has played a major role in his life, supporting and guiding him through his career in dentistry, in his and his wife’s 59 years of marriage, and blessing them with many friends of faith, and giving them the chance to be the parents of three wonderful children, nine grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

For Dr. McCann, his whole life really began in the year 1945, and he still has the bike and a faith that has carried him, supported, and forever changed him for the better since then.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

A bicycle can change how you see the world and more

A bicycle can change how you see the world and more
By:  Michael Lander

For some, the bicycle is their primary mode of transportation in and around the City of Memphis to include
some of whom are homeless.

Can a bicycle help change how we see the world or, maybe, in some small way, help to change the world, itself?

The answer to that question may only rely on the degree to which any one of us is willing to allow that to happen.

bicycle, it has been said, is one of the most economical, environmentally-friendly, and the most democratic means of transport available to humanity.

Some have called it mankind’s greatest and
most perfect invention.

However we want to look at it, a bicycle can just about be anything that we want it to be.

In a more obvious and superficial way, riding a bike can change our perspective on how we see the world around us since it is a much more intimate and engaging experience than one gets from being inside a vehicle.

While some ride for fun and recreation, others prefer to have a bicycle for more utilitarian purposes.

On a bike, you see, hear, and smell the environment that you are in and you can feel the warmth of the sun, the sensation of a breeze, and so much more.

A bicycle, however, can do a lot more than just arouse your senses.

In a deeper and more meaningful way, a bicycle has the ability to provide us with an opportunity, like no other mode of transportation, in helping to take us out of our own little worlds and through and into areas where we might not otherwise go. 

A bicycle gives an opportunity to not only open our eyes and our senses to the places that we are in, and to appreciate what scenery that may appeal to us, but, perhaps, even more importantly, we have a chance to really take notice of the people there, too.

Bicycles are much more economical than motor vehicles and can help us to get out of the insulated
and enclosed worlds that most of us live in.

These days, it would seem, we live in a world that, in spite of all of the technological advances in communication and quick and easy access to more information than we have ever had in our history, many of us have, in some ways, become even more isolated, disconnected, and out of touch from one another and from the realities that exist beyond our own lives.

There is also a greater degree of divisiveness and polarization in our society today, which only serves to further divide and separate us even more.

A bicycle can give us one way to help change that.  On a bike ride, we not only become a part of where we are, but we can also connect with others who are in those places that we travel through. 

A bicycle can literally bring people together from different walks of life.  Whether it is at a cycling-related event, on the street, in a bike lane, on a bike trail, on social media, or at any place where people who love cycling happen to gather, it can help to unify us.

For most people, especially those in their cars, they may pay little attention to those they see on our
Memphis City streets, but on a bicycle, the world moves a little slower and it is almost impossible not
to see them and it should be, harder still, to ignore them.

On a bicycle, people have a way to meet, talk, come together, share, care, and even begin to seek a way to make life better not only for each of us, individually, (like for our own health, for example), but collectively as a group of people who all call Memphis their home.

In this way, bicycles can help unite a community and they can enable some of us to not just talk about our faith, but to actually act on it.

From just the simple experience of a bike ride, we can begin to expand our own world to encompass that of others.

We all already share one thing in common with one another in that we all want to live in a place where we can feel safe and secure, to have all of our basic needs met, and where we have every possibility to better ourselves.

Life in Memphis, like in any other city, is not always easy for everyone, but
the bicycle offers mobility and a way to make ends meet.  It can also give
others the inspiration to do more to help those in need.

Unfortunately, in
Memphis, and across the nation, that is not always the case.  There are millions of people around the country, and thousands within our very own city, who, as Henry David Thoreau once said, are leading lives of quiet desperation.

Many of us have long accepted that this is just the way it is, and that we cannot do anything about it, but we have the potential in each of us to help change that.

We can begin, if we are willing, to join with others in an effort to repair and renovate areas in disrepair and to do the same for those people who are broken down and in despair.

We can show love and compassion where none has been given and offer hope, a helping hand, and an ear to listen.

A bicycle, or a single cyclist, alone, may not change the entire world, but it could be a good way to start, and, if nothing else, it can open our eyes and our hearts to the world and to others around us.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

The month of May is really a time for cyclists in Memphis

The month of May is really a time for cyclists in Memphis
By:  Michael Lander

National Bike Month is a time to celebrate all that is great
about cycling and Memphis area cyclists have plenty to
be jubilant over since the city has made such tremendous
strides over the last decade on their behalf.

For Memphians, the month of May always conjures up thoughts of barbecue, music, and Memphis in May festivities.

For the cycling community, in Memphis and around the country, the month of May is also National Bike Month and it’s a time to highlight anything and everything that is great about cycling.

National Bike Month began in 1956 by the League of American Bicyclists and, through the years, it has helped to raise a greater awareness of the many benefits of bicycling while showing how it can provide an alternative mode of transportation that is much more economical and sustainable and more environmentally-friendly.

Click here to see images of cyclists in Memphis during National Bike Month in 2017.

Throughout National Bike Month, there are also events like Bike to Work Day (on May 19), Bike to Work Week (May 15 – 19), and Bike to School Day (during the second week of May), which all help to get people, and even children, to see biking as not only a fun thing to do, but a practical way to get around.

The Hernando Bicycle Club and the Memphis Hightailers are also both hosting Rides of Silence on Wednesday, May 17, to raise awareness and to honor all cyclists who have been injured and killed.

Click here for an article on a previous Ride of Silence in Hernando, which will tell you more about this event.

National Bike Month only comes once a year, but bicycling
can be done all year long and its impact can change your
life for the better as well as that of our community and
even our world, if we only let it.

Click here to learn more about Bike to Work in Memphis.

In addition to these events, National Bike Month is also good time for people to support other events related to cycling, like the Rally for Safe Streets, hosted by Bike Walk Memphis at Memphis City Hall (125 N. Main St.) on Thursday, May 18 at 4:00 – 5:00 p.m.

This year (May 18 - 19), Memphis will also be hosting the 2017 Tennessee Bike Summit.  This is the sixth year of this statewide event and it brings cyclists, advocates, and transportation professionals together to share ideas, resources, and best practices in bicycle infrastructure, funding, education, outreach, and policy.

To learn more about cycling in Memphis, check out Memphis’ bike clubs, our local area bike shops, and the Bikeway & Pedestrian Program Manager’s (Bike/Ped Memphis) website.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Memphis area cyclists can celebrate over survey results for 10 repaving projects and a whole lot more

Memphis area cyclists can celebrate over survey results for 10 repaving projects and a whole lot more
By:  Michael Lander

Broad Ave. is just one of the many Memphis City streets that
have bike lanes.  By the fall of this year, work will begin on
10 more.

The results are in and it’s great news for
Memphis area cyclists.

After unveiling the proposed design plans for repaving 10 Memphis City streets at a
public meeting on March 27, the Memphis Bike/Ped Manager, Nicholas Oyler, published a summary of the results of an online survey and other feedback that the city received throughout a three week period that ended on April 17.

The overall responses to each of the design plans, that included bike lanes for 10 Memphis City streets, were overwhelmingly positive to include one of Memphis’ most scenic roadways -
Riverside Drive.

Click here to view the results.

With these results, the
City of Memphis will take these responses, along with other related factors, into consideration before making a final decision in the weeks ahead.  If all goes according to plan, the city should proceed with the repaving road work projects on the following Memphis City Streets by the fall:

- N. Highland St. from Summer Ave. to Walnut Grove Rd.,
- Riverside Dr. from Jefferson Ave. to Beale St.,
- N. Perkins St.
from Summer Ave. to Walnut Grove,
- Hickory Hill Rd.
from Mt. Moriah Rd. to Winchester Rd.,
- Knight Arnold Rd. from Hickory Hill Rd. to Ridgeway Rd.,
- Riverdale Rd. from Winchester Rd. to Shelby Dr.,
- Cooper St.
from Central Ave. to Washington Ave.,
- Getwell Rd.
from Park Ave. to I-240,
- Airways Blvd.
from Shelby Dr. to TN/MS State Line, and
- Mendenhall Rd. from Knight Arnold Rd. to Mt. Moriah Rd.

Most of the
opposition to the bike lanes on Riverside was mounted by several downtown homeowners, some of whom publicly voiced their dissent and who sought to have other options pursued, instead.  They seem to have preferred having bike lanes placed on other streets or having them placed inside Tom Lee Park, itself.

Cooper Ave. is one of the many streets in Memphis that has a
significant number of cyclists riding on it and this is only
expected to increase with the extension of the bike lane
from Central to Washington Ave.

One of the more compelling arguments for having bike lanes on Riverside, however, as well as on the other nine Memphis City streets, is that it would, ultimately, help to slow traffic, and thereby increase safety for everyone to include not only those who are driving, but also those who want to ride a bike or who wish to try to walk across any of these streets.

For Oyler, the bike lanes are more than just about accommodating the needs and wishes of cyclists.  He has said on a number of occasions that it is more about creating safer streets for everyone and the current design plan for Riverside should do just that.

Oyler and others believe that the current plan remedies some of the problems that arose from the previous design plan that failed in 2015 by creating turn lanes and emergency pull-off areas.

In addition to that, there may also be one other benefit that might come for having bike lanes installed on Riverside Drive.

Downtown Memphis Commission (DMC) and the Riverfront Development Corporation (RDC) have been looking for ways to reduce crime and to increase safety around Riverside Drive with ideas like decreasing the speed limit, reducing it to two (2) lanes, (to control excessive cruising), and even possibly temporarily closing it on weekends. 

With bike lanes put in on Riverside Drive, it would do all this without ever having to close it except for the
Memphis in May festivities.

According to Oyler, the RDC has been supportive of city engineer’s proposals to slow down traffic and improve access along Riverside Drive for all users.

The creation of bicycle lanes in Memphis over the last decade
have had a significant impact on the growing popularity of
cycling with an added side benefit of helping to slow traffic
down, which has greatly contributed to the safety of
motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians alike.

Oyler believes that the latest proposal for bike lanes should help accomplish some of what the DMC and RDC have been looking to do to reduce crime, without having to close the street on weekends.

Even though there has been a lot of attention given to this latest set of bike lanes, the city also has other big bike lane projects coming in the future.

Among some of the future projects is an enhancement of the
Hampline, (connecting the Shelby Farms Greenline and Overton Park), which will also include the first traffic bicycle lights in our city.

A future half a mile expansion of the greenline from Tillman to the north end of Flicker (near
Tobey Park) is also being planned that will also include an eye-catching bridge with the work expected to be completed in four to five years.

Another one is a three year effort, known as “
The Big Jump Project,” which will add bike lanes in South Memphis.  This project be especially beneficial to individuals from communities in this part of Memphis who have lower incomes and who are more dependent on walking and cycling.

The Big Jump Project is funded by
PeopleforBikes and Memphis is one of 10 cities that were chosen among hundreds throughout the U.S.

Some of the bike lanes in South Memphis will open up areas like
Martin Luther King Riverside Park, which has an old forest like Overton Park and was designed by the same pioneer urban planner and landscape architect of Overton, George Kessler.

One other exciting project that should get the adrenaline pumping for Memphis area cyclists is a “
Great Streets Pilot Project,” unveiled at a public meeting on Tuesday, May 2, 2017.

Bike lanes, like this one on Southern Ave., have helped to
create corridors for cyclists to travel on.  More of these in
the years ahead, with connections to other bike lanes,
should make cycling much safer and a more viable
option for transportation and commuting purposes.

This project will provide a mostly protected two-way, east-west bike route from the
river to Midtown Memphis, (from Riverside Drive, along Front, Peabody Place and Fourth to Dr. M.L. King Jr. Ave., while steering clear of the Beale Street entertainment district), with a couple of protected (Dutch-style) intersections or bike roundabouts along the way.

A continuation of this bike route on to Dr. M.L. King Jr. Ave. will feature a one-way protected bike lane on either side of the street and the work on this separate project should be completed by the fall.

The Great Streets Pilot Project, itself, will offer areas with interactive public art elements, eating, drinking, and various other activities, and it will give Memphians an opportunity to enjoy public space amenities that have been created through the transformation of some of our public streets.

Through the combined efforts of the
UrbanArt Commission and others, the Great Streets project will help Memphians to see, experience, and to re-imagine our city streets in a radically different, in a more aesthetic, and more people-friendly way.

The work is set to begin in June and should be finished by the end of that month.  After that, there will be a one year trial period and the city will then request federal funding, which will be augmented with private funding.

With all of these bike lanes (which will total 331 miles by the end of 2017), an improved bicycle infrastructure, an effort to connect existing
bike lanes with one another, and more funding expected to come from Governor Haslam’s Improve Act (SB 1221 gas tax bill), Memphis area cyclists will have much to celebrate and to look forward to in the future.