The month of May is a time in Memphis for music, barbecue, and cycling
By: Michael G. Lander
For Memphians, the month of May is usually associated with Memphis in May events, the Beale Street
Music Festival, the AutoZone Sunset Symphony, beautiful spring weather and
flowers, and the internationally renowned World Championship Barbecue Cooking
Along with that, our river city, and for the rest of the nation, the month of
May has also been recognized, for over 58 years, as National Bike Month. The idea or concept for this originated with
the League of American Bicyclists in 1956
as a way to raise awareness for the many benefits and for the positive aspects
that cycling can bring, not only for the individual, but to the entire
community as a whole.
The time and attention that is given to National Bike Month is especially
meaningful to a city like Memphis since
cycling is really growing in popularity as the city goes from one of the worst
to one of the most improved cities for cycling in the country. This is due much in part to the combined
efforts of our city and county government officials, business leaders, and a vast number of our community
activists. In less than a decade,
Memphis and surrounding areas have become the envy of other cities that aspire
to be where we now are in such a very short time.
In May 2012, Memphis Mayor AC Wharton and Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell,
Jr. signed a joint
proclamation promoting their support of cycling by officially declaring the
Month of May as National Bike Month.
Both mayors have been outspoken advocates for cyclists and Mayor
Wharton appointed the very first Bike/Pedestrian Coordinator, Kyle Wagenschutz, for the city of Memphis shortly after being
elected to office in 2009.
One of the most distinctive and positive changes that the city of Memphis and
the surrounding areas have seen is the significant increase in the number of
bike lanes, paths and trails. Together,
these have connected communities with one another and they not only bring them
together in a physical sense, but they connect and unify people from all of the
neighborhoods in a more intimate way than roads can do.
In a car, you can drive by so quickly that you may hardly notice anything
around you, but on a bike it is completely different. You become a part of your surroundings on a
bike. You stop, look, and see other
people on a more personal, closer, one-on-one level. You are not shielded and insulated from your
environment and those around you. You
are very much a part of it in the most intimate way.
A big part of the National Bike Month is
to promote a more alternative to driving and more environmentally-friendly
means of transportation in the Bike-to
Work-initiative. While the Bike-to-Work
programs vary from city to city, in Memphis it takes place on Friday, May 16 of
each year. To learn more about the city's
bike-to-work efforts, click on this link to the Bike-to-Work Downtown Memphis
If you would like to read more about National Bike Month, you can visit the League of American Bicyclists
website or their facebook
Magazine, or the Safe