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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Cyclists visiting Memphis should find plenty of options and reasons to ride with few, if any, worries

Cyclists visiting Memphis should find plenty of options and reasons to ride with few, if any, worries
By:  Michael Lander

Cyclists are able to navigate on many of the streets throughout
Memphis, but with the exception of Memphis City Police and security
guards, they are not permitted to ride at a few locations like on parts
of Beale Street that is limited to pedestrian traffic.

It can be really hard to keep anything that is great a secret and the same could be said of
Memphis. 

The city is an extremely popular destination stop and finding reasons to come here is actually pretty easy. 

There are plenty of things to see and do throughout the year and, if you’re a cyclist, it is definitely a place that is well worth the visit.

The biggest challenge for cyclists really isn’t deciding whether or not to come to our city, but it should be deciding between which places that you’ll have time to ride to while you are here.

Once here, cyclists will find no shortage of places to ride with lots of bike lanes and trails and more being added all the time. 

Here are a couple of websites that will help you get your start in searching the best bicycle routes in and around the city: 
http://memphiscyclist.com/html/placestoride.html and http://labs.strava.com/heatmap/#11/-89.97079/35.12930/blue/bike.

For those wanting to know the best and most popular destination locations in Memphis, here is a link that might be especially helpful in planning your visit: 
http://mymemphismatters.blogspot.com/2013/03/normal-0-false-false-false-en-us-x-none.html.  Many of these places may already be along some of the existing bike routes throughout the city or they could be modified with a slight deviation to include them.

Another thing that visiting cyclists might want to know about is how safe it is to ride in and around Memphis.  Those who do come should, for the most part, find it to be as safe as any city its size.

Safety, understandably, is, and should be, a concern for all cyclists and despite Memphis having a reputation for having bad drivers, in reality, they are probably no worse here than anywhere else.

Yes, there are bad and distracted drivers in our city, but this isn’t something that is necessarily unique to us.

And, while it may have taken a little time, Memphis has slowly been able to make its way to becoming a much more cyclist-friendly city. 

Memphis City Police Officers frequently patrol the downtown area
around Main Street.  Many cyclists have found this and other streets
to be a quick and easy way to get around town.

Initially, we may have had drivers who were not accustomed to having cyclists on the roads, and some who may not have cared for having to share the roads with them, but we have not seemed to have had any problems or experienced any growing pains as we have made the transition over to a city that is becoming known more for its cycling. 

To further that point, to date, there have not been any reported incidents of aggressive behavior by drivers or any acts of road rage directed against any cyclists.

Aside from safety concerns for cyclists on the roadways, crime may be another big concern for them as it is for many who live in most large metropolitan areas.  This is something that very few, if any, large communities are immune from and Memphis is no exception.

With that being said, this is not something that anyone living anywhere should ignore or try to minimize. 

Crime, like in any big city, is a reality of life for us in Memphis, but as real as any threat might appear, it can sometimes also be over-exaggerated and can seem to be much greater than what the statistics actually show.

To properly put this into perspective, there may be several hundred cyclists riding in and around Memphis on any given day and yet crimes against them are virtually, if not completely, non-existent.  

Like in other big cities around the country, crimes are often clustered in certain areas and neighborhoods where there is poverty and blight.  Here is a link that will show you where some of the crimes that have recently happened in Memphis: 
http://spotcrime.com/tn/memphis and http://www.neighborhoodscout.com/tn/memphis/crime/.

Crimes can happen anywhere, but if it is possible, it is usually best to avoid those areas that show a higher potential and risk for crime.

Statistically, Memphis has a comparable crime rate as other cities its size and population.  Here is a link for those who are interested in viewing a breakdown of the various types of crime in Memphis: 
http://www.city-data.com/crime/crime-Memphis-Tennessee.html and  http://city-crime-statistics.findthedata.com/.


With bike lanes on parts of several roads, like Southern Ave., cyclists are increasingly
hitting the streets and becoming a more familiar sight to motorists in and around
Memphis.

To help minimize the risks of becoming a victim yourself, here are some simple tips:
-         Be aware of your surroundings and those around you.
-         Travel with others whenever you can.
-         Try to ride during the day when more people are out.
Take precautions.  Theft is a problem almost anywhere you go and Memphis is no exception.  Lock up your bike frame and wheels.
-         Also, have a cell phone with you and bring anything else that you might ordinarily carry with you for your personal protection.

Should you want to know more on this topic, here are some links where you can read about how to avoid becoming a victim and protecting yourself: “How to Prevent Becoming a Victim of Crime” on WikiHow, “How to Protect Yourself Against Crime,” at WebMD, and “Protect Yourself from Violent Crime,” by the National Crime Prevention Council.

As much as it makes sense to have some legitimate concerns about riding in a place that you might be unfamiliar with, those who come to Memphis are much more likely to find a place that is very accommodating and receptive to cyclists and its only getting better by the day.

For anyone who wants to see more about cycling in Memphis, here are a couple of additional links worth checking out:  http://memphiscyclist.com/ and http://memphiscyclist.blogspot.com/.

With an ever-increasing and ever-expanding network of bike lanes and trails, and plenty of places to see and visit along the way, there is no better time for cyclists to come and visit Memphis and to experience what local area cyclists get the chance to enjoy every day.

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