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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Memphis aims to be number one in a family fun, 'Bikes on Broad,' national bicycle competition

Memphis aims to be number one in a family fun, ‘Bikes on Broad,’ national bicycle competition
By:  Michael Lander

There were 85 cyclists in the May "Bikes on Broad" event.  The
theme for that month's ride was "People riding with racks or
baskets."  The event is part of a national competition to
determine the best city for everyday riding in the U.S.

Those who know and love Memphis already think of it as being a great city, and a wonderful place to live, and it is quickly becoming one of the best places in the country to ride a bike.

Now, when it comes to cycling, Memphians have a way to prove that our city is number one by participating in a fun, family-friendly, one mile, national competition by peopleforbikes to determine which is city is the best for everyday bicycle riding in the nation.

This event, known in Memphis as “Bikes on Broad,” takes place on the last Thursday of every month, from April through November in 2015, and it starts at 6:00 p.m. at the Bicycle Arch in Overton Park (at Sam Cooper and East Parkway), travels along the Hampline on Broad Ave., and ends up at the Rec Room (on 3000 Broad Ave.).

Memphis is among a list of about a dozen other cities across the U.S. that are competing to be the best in everyday bicycle riding that includes Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, Portland, Ore., Seattle, Tucson, Ariz., and other cities who wish to join in when they can like Austin, Texas and San Francisco.

Each and every person who participates in this family-fun ride is counted at any time on the designated day that it is scheduled to take place.

“Counts are being performed by automated counters in the field and verified through volunteer counters on the day of the ‘Bikes on Broad’ event,” Kyle Wagenschutz said.

The "Bikes on Broad" event is a family-fun, one mile ride
that takes place on the last Thursday of every month
from April to November 2015.  The ride starts at the
Overton Park Bicycle Arch and ends at the Rec Room
where participants can eat, drink, socialize
and/or play games.

Wagenschutz is the Bicycle/Pedestrian Program Manager in Memphis.

In addition to counting the number of those who ride, the city also gets bonus points for those who meet the challenge theme each month.

In April, the theme was cargo bikes or bikes with trailers, in May it was people riding with racks or baskets, in June it was people riding in a dress or skirt, in July the theme was people wearing Lycra or spandex, in August it was kids riding bikes, in September it was people riding in business attire, and in October it was people riding in Halloween costumes.

In the final month of November it will be people riding who have beards.

“Memphis ranked number one in the first month with 56 riders during the specified count time and nine who came with cargo bikes.  In May, we came in third with 85 riders during the count time, 37 who rode with baskets/racks and 30 of which had flowers,” Wagenschutz said.

In June, the city had 25 riders with 17 cyclists wearing skirts, dresses, and wrapped gowns.  In July, there were 32 riders with 18 of them wearing spandex or lycra.

Thus far, the city has been extremely pleased with the feedback that it has received from the “Bikes on Broad” event and, as of the challenge in September, Memphis had got a slight edge over the other cities.

“The response has been very good.  The group ride isn’t about getting a strong workout since it’s only a mile long, but it’s all about having fun, getting some national press, and enjoying some drinks and playing video games at the Rec Room afterward,” Wagenschutz said.

Even Star Wars' Darth Vader, himself, couldn't resist the
good side of the force and joined the "Bikes on Broad"
event on May 28, 2015.

“This is just a fun, whimsical event with no pretenses.  You show up, meet the challenge, and get counted.  We’ve especially enjoyed having whole families join in on the fun, and spending some quality time socializing after the ride,” he added.

Through this and other similar events, Wagenschutz, and the peopleforbikes hopes that it will encourage people to think differently about their bike ride and to do even more of it in the future.

As for the location of this event, the Hampline seemed like the best choice for the city to have it.

“Peopleforbikes asked that the route be chosen along a protected bike lane or other high bicycle route.  Since one section of the cycle track along Broad had recently opened earlier this spring, it seemed like a good choice,” Wagenschutz said.

The effort to paint the cycle tracks on Broad was led by the area's business association.

“The striping of the temporary bike lanes near the historic district was led by the Historic Broad Ave. Business Association in partnership with Livable Memphis.  The subsequent section was recently striped between Collins and Tillman by Memphis City crews,” Wagenschutz said.

To learn more about this event, you can visit Bike/Ped Memphis, go to the event’s facebook page, and to the Revolutions Co-Op website.  You can also click on the following to see pictures from the May, June, July, August, September, and October events.

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