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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

National Park Service's 100th birthday should be the time to reflect on and appreciate our national parks and to properly invest in them

National Park Service’s 100th birthday should be the time to reflect on and appreciate our national parks and to properly invest in them
By:  Michael Lander

This is a view of the White Mountains from the Kancamagus
Highway in New Hampshire.  Even though parts of the White
Mountains are in a national forest, and are not a national
park, this view is similar to what you will see in parks
along the same mountain chain further to the south in
the Appalachians and in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

national parks attract millions of Americans each year from all walks of life and people from all around the world.

With their magnificent natural beauty, their breathtaking scenic vistas, and all of the wildlife that reside within them, they truly are national treasures for all of us to love, appreciate, to be proud of, and to enjoy.

Given what they mean to all of us and to all of the visitors from around the world, why would we not want to adequately invest in them and in their future?

That is a question that we should all be asking ourselves, especially as the
National Park Service celebrates its 100th birthday on August 25th.

This is a view of the Atlantic coastline within Acadia
National Park in Maine.  The views are similar to the
national parks on the west coast.  This park is the
most northern national park in the continental U.S.

Today, on the National Park Service’s centennial anniversary, our national parks are in desperate need of funding that we cannot afford to put off or to ignore any longer.

Because of unreliable and inadequate annual congressional funding, there is a serious maintenance backlog for the National Park System that has reached a desperately critical situation. 

From roads and bridges to visitor centers and trails, the backlog totals nearly $12 billion.  Just the national parks in Tennessee, alone, need almost $294.5 million in maintenance.  At Shiloh National Military Park, for instance, that figure is nearly $7.5 million.

The Arch Rock at Mackinac National Park is just one of the
many natural formations that visitors can see in other parks
across the U.S.  The Mackinac National Park was
established in 1875 and it was the second national park
in the U.S.

With the situation being what it is, today, we must call on our lawmakers to do better than this.  We, and our parks, deserve better from them.  Please join me in urging our elected officials in Washington, D.C., (in
Congress and in the Senate), to establish reliable annual funding and set policies that provide long-term stability for our parks.  

In doing this, let us also remind them about the potential of private-sector support and ask them to consider that option, if they cannot afford to provide adequate funding to our parks, themselves.

Whatever we do, we must do something.  Our national parks are priceless treasures that are worth whatever amount that we can invest in them because they are invaluable, not only for those of us living today, but for those generations to come.

This is a view of an area near the Hornet's Nest at Shiloh
National Military Battlefield Park.  There are dozens of
these battlefield parks for both the Revolutionary and
the U.S. Civil War throughout the U.S.

Even though Congress did increase funding from $2.3 billion in 2007 to $2.8 billion in 2016, this has not been enough to keep up with the backlog of routine maintenance and a crumbling infrastructure in some of our parks.

To remedy this, a bill has been proposed that would pay $12 billion to address the deferred maintenance that is needed for our national parks.  But, some in Congress are reluctant to provide this funding, suggesting instead, that the federal government, (which owns one third of all land in the U.S.), and the National Park Service should sell some of their land.

Is this really what we are going to resort to every time that we face budgetary constraints or shortfalls?

Many of the national parks and the national military battlefield
parks are ideal places not only to drive through, but to walk,
run, and ride a bike, too.

Should this ever happen, the decision of which lands and which parks and how much of it will be put on the auction block should be a major concern to each and every one of us.

For 100 years, generations of visitors have been enjoying our country’s national parks.  They continue to provid
e us with beautiful places to look at where we can experience nature, whether we camp in them or drive, walk, run, hike, or ride our bikes through them.

Most of our parks encourage cyclists to come for a visit with many providing amenities to place your bike and with slower moving vehicular traffic, they can be a safer and more scenic alternative than what you might otherwise find in busy and congested city traffic.

Many of the places that shaped our nation are important in our
history like Fort Sumter National Monument in Charleston,
S.C., which are preserved within our national park system.

Throughout our own great State of Tennessee, we have 12 national parks where visitors and cyclists can take advantage of recreational opportunities at special places like Cades Cove and scenic views of Natchez Trace Scenic Trail, the Great Smoky Mountains, and the Appalachian Trail.

Visitors can also walk on hallowed ground that bore witness to events that forever shaped our nation’s history and that honor those who died at the military battlefields at
Stone’s River, Chickamauga and Chattanooga, and Shiloh National Military Park, which is an easy day trip from Memphis.

National parks, like Acadia National Park in Maine, provide
an experience that Americans may not otherwise be able to
get.  It is because of this that every effort should be made to
preserve and protect them for us and the generations to

In all of these places, and throughout all of the national parks across the U.S., we have a vested interest in preserving them.  Each of them provide economic activity that brings in revenues to the nearby local communities and to each of the states where the parks are located. 

In 2014 almost 8.5 million people ventured into national parks in Tennessee alone, spending more than $570 million when they visited.  They patronize local retailers, restaurants, hotels, campgrounds and more, all of which employ local area residents. And, our visitors contribute to local tax bases as well.

This is a view of Diana's Baths in the White Mountains
National Forest.  Many similar views, like this, can be
found throughout our national parks in the U.S.

We all understand that the value of our national parks is more than just economic, however.  What makes them priceless is what they mean to us as a people, the heritage that they represent for us, and how they are something that we can all share and enjoy together, regardless of who we are or where we come from.  This makes them something that is distinctively and uniquely American.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, "There is nothing so American as our national parks.... The fundamental idea behind the that the country belongs to the people, that it is in process of making for the enrichment of the lives of all of us."

Stones River National Battlefield Park is one of three Civil
War battlefield parks in the State of Tennessee.  Each of
these provide a tangible reminder of our nation's history
and battles that helped to shape and define who we are

If you really want to know all about America and get an idea of one of the things that makes our country great, you can look at who we are as a people and the land that we set aside for each and every one of us to enjoy.  

As the National Park Service marks its 100th birthday on August 25, we celebrate our own story and that of a nation committed to saving places that are precious to all of us.

It might be easy for us to take our national parks for granted, but we shouldn’t. 

So, what are our national parks worth to you?  Is there a price tag that you could put on it?  The answers to these questions should be simple and unequivocal – They are absolutely priceless!

This is a view from atop Little Round Top at Gettysburg National
Military Park in Pennsylvania.  A statue of Union Brigadier
General Gouverneur Kemble Warren has been erected
where he is said to have stood at one point during the
battle, which he did not survive.

National parks are an integral part our country, our history, and they represent who we are as a people.  I would think that they are certainly worth the investment that is needed to preserve them for those of us living today and for the generations of those coming after us. 

Let us do what we can to ensure that we commit whatever money and resources that we can for our national parks now and for the future.

Monday, August 22, 2016

There are 2.3 million reasons why you should do the 2016 FedEx Rock-n-Roll MS-150 bike ride

There are 2.3 million reasons why you should do the 2016 FedEx Rock-n-Roll MS-150 bike ride
By:  Michael Lander

The FedEx Rock-n-Roll MS-150 draws a lot of local area cyclists
who ride to support the National MS Society and those who
have been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.  This is the
thirty-first year of this ride.

Bike MS events aren’t just another bike ride.  They are a bike ride and so much more.

Even though there are hundreds of fundraising cycling events that take place around the country, Bike MS is the largest one of them all.  They attract nearly 100,000 participants to them each year in more than 85 locations throughout the nation.

They also help to raise money and awareness for a disease, (known as
multiple sclerosis), that currently afflicts an estimated 2.3 million people worldwide.

The organization behind Bike MS is the
National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS) and, once a year, their Mid-South Chapter hosts its annual FedEx Rock-n-Roll MS-150 bike ride, which, this year, will take place on September 10 -11, 2016.

This year’s FedEx Rock-n-Roll MS-150 bike ride will be the thirty-first one in the
Memphis area.

Most participants in the MS-150 ride are with teams and this
year there are 17 of them in the FedEx Rock-n-Roll MS-150.

Since the first of these rides began in 1985, thousands of cyclists have participated in them and they have, collectively, raised at least $20 million for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society over the past three decades.

While the challenge of trying to do a 150-mile bike ride over a weekend might be what interests some of the cyclists in attempting it, for the majority of participants the reason is often deeper and much more personal than that. 

For them, it is because they have friends, family, co-workers, fellow church members, neighbors, or others who are part of the 2.3 million people who have been stricken with MS.  It is for them that they ride in order to help put an end to what can be a debilitating and life-altering disease.

The Mid-South Chapter of the NMSS hosts the Jack-and-Back
and the FedEx Rock-n-Roll MS-150 each year.  Last year's
Rock-n-Roll MS-150 drew about 200 participants and the
Mid-South Chapter is hoping for at least 300 this year.

Those who have MS, themselves, can also participate in the program – “I Ride with MS,” which is a special program that recognizes those who have MS and who also want to join the cause to end MS.

Anyone interested in registering for this ride, can
click on this link.  You can get a discount, at registration, by using the code “WELCOME.”

The FedEx Rock-n-Roll MS-150 bike ride begins at the Landers Center in Southaven, Mississippi, on Saturday, Sept. 10, and ends at Gold Strike Casino Resort in Tunica, Mississippi, on Saturday evening with a celebratory dinner and program.  The next day, after breakfast at the casino conference center, cyclists then ride back to Landers Center.

The biggest challenge for most participants in the FedEx Rock-n-
Roll MS-150 is - The Wall, which the cyclists face about 30 miles
into the ride if they do the 75 miles on Day 2.

Cyclists have the choice of either doing a 42, 75, or 100-mile ride on the first day and they can either do a 42 or a 75-mile ride on the second day.  The entire event is fully supported with rest stops at about every 10 to 12 miles each day.  Support and gear vehicles are also available and can provide any mechanical or medical support that might be needed.

While participants in this year’s ride can expect much of what they have experienced in the past, the event manager, Kelsey Vaughn, indicated that they can also expect a few surprises.

“This year’s route will be very similar to last year’s, but there may be an extra twist or turn than what they’ve seen before and we will also have some big announcements in store for everyone, too,” Vaughn said.

The Wall is just one of the many challenges that cyclists
face on the 2-day FedEx Rock-n-Roll MS-150 bike ride,
which can include tolerating heat and enduring the
occasional aches and pains that can come from
riding.  Having rest stops every 10 to 12 miles can
help give participants a much-needed break
before getting back on the road for more.

This year’s event currently has 17 teams and 155 individuals who have registered for it thus farOrganizers of the ride are hoping to have at least 300 cyclists sign up for the ride and to reach their goal of raising a minimum of $300,000.

“Between our Jack-and-Back MS-150 ride and the FedEx Rock-n-Roll, we have been able to raise nearly $1,000,000 each year for the Mid-South Chapter of the MS Society,” Vaughn said. 

All proceeds that are raised support cutting-edge MS research and life-changing services for people living with MS and enable them to live their lives in the best way that they can.

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society mobilizes people and resources so that everyone affected by multiple sclerosis can live their lives with the hope that one day they will stop MS in its tracks, restore what has been lost, and end MS forever.

The ride around Arkabutla Dam can be a very nice and
scenic view for those who decide to do the 75 miles
on Day 2 of the MS-150.

In order to fulfill this mission, the NMSS funds cutting-edge research, drives change through advocacy, facilitates professional education, collaborates with MS organizations around the world, and provides services designed to help people with MS and their families.

In 2015 alone, the NMSS provided $122.2 million to help more than one million individuals connect to the people, information and resources they needed.  Also, to help move us closer to a world free of MS, the NMSS also invested $54 million to support more than 380 new and ongoing research projects around the world.

Early and ongoing treatment with an FDA-approved therapy can make a difference for people with MS. You can learn about your options by talking to your health care professional and by contacting the NMSS at or calling them at 1-800-344-4867.

There's always time for some fun and a laugh during the
FedEx Rock-n-Roll MS-150.  The event's manager,
Kelsey Vaughn, is pictured on the left.

The disease that the National Multiple Sclerosis Society is working to put an end to is an unpredictable, and is often disabling disease to the central nervous system, disrupting the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and the body.

The symptoms of MS range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. The progression, severity, and specific symptoms of MS is often different for each person and its affect on each individual cannot yet be predicted.

Most people who are diagnosed with MS are between the ages of 20 and 50 and there are two to three times more women than men who are told that they have MS.

Bike MS is sponsored nationally by their premier national sponsors
Primal, Bicycling Magazine, True Fitness, Kenda Tires, Showers Pass, and People for Bikes.  Local sponsors include FedEx and Gold Strike Casino Resort.

The volunteers for the FedEx Rock-n-Roll MS-150 may be one
of the best parts of doing this ride.  Many cyclists are
especially happy to see them when they're handing them
their medals at the end of the 2-day ride.

In addition to their sponsors, there are a lot of others who help make the MS-150 bike rides happen.

“Hosting an event of this size requires a small army.  The weekend of the event, we will have 10 society staff members, 100 volunteers, dozens of local police officers, and many supportive sponsors who all come together to put on an extraordinary ride,” Vaughn said.

“The event takes thousands of hours of meticulous planning to put on a safe and exciting ride and the work never stops.  We have already been prepping for the 2017 ride since earlier this spring,” she said.

“We are also always looking for ways to improve the ride by soliciting feedback and for ways that we can attract more participants.  We should be able to do this with some really exciting stuff in the works for 2017,” she added.

To learn and read more about the FedEx Rock-n-Roll MS-150 bike ride, you can visit  For social media, be sure to use the hashtags of #bikeMS and #DontJustRide.

For any additional information or questions about this ride, you can contact
Kelsey Vaughn by calling 615-690-5349 or emailing her at:

Friday, August 19, 2016

Mountain bike riding and racing is what fuels Memphis area cyclist - Laureen Coffelt

Mountain bike riding and racing is what fuels Memphis area cyclist -  Laureen Coffelt
By:  Michael Lander

Laureen Coffelt is extremely passionate about riding mountain
bikes and she not only loves to compete, but she also loves
just being outdoors, learning more about her sport, and
about herself, and making lifelong friends in the mountain
bike community.  (Photo:  Courtesy of Mike Brooks at

If the word “relentless” had a name attached to it, it would have to be Laureen Coffelt.

Coffelt, who was born in Montreal, Quebec and raised in Northern Ontario,Canada, has been relentless in her pursuit as a competitive cyclist with an astounding record of accomplishment and a tremendous amount of success in mountain bike (MTB) racing.

Off of her bike, and in her career life, Coffelt is an Occupational Therapist (OT) and a certified hand therapist (CHT) at OrthoMemphis.

On her bike, Coffelt is the consummate competitor who has won well over 100 of the events in which she has participated since she did her first MTB race, (a 100 mile MTB race in Oklahoma City), in 2003.

“I have had many open female wins and success at the national level, but it does not really interest me to keep track of the exact number of them,” Coffelt said.

“These aren’t as important to me as the lessons and friendships that I have made along the way,” she said.

Along with the friends that she has made over the years, Coffelt has managed to also rack up plenty of wins and she finished in the top three in Open Women at the USA Cycling (USAC) National 24 Solo MTB Championships in 2010, 2012, and 2014.

She also recently completed the 240-mile, 6-day 2016 BRECK Epic MTB Stage Race and took second place for all six stages at this event.

Of the racing events in which she has participated, her best and favorite one is the 24-hour solo MTB races. 

“The 24-hour solo MTB races are where I met my coach and long-time friend, Chris Eatough.  As for support in my 24 Solo MTB racing, my husband, Joe, has been my best pit crew for this.  In 2014, both Chris and Joe helped me race into second place at the National Championships.  Both have always taught me to dig in and to go beyond what I believed that I could manage,” Coffelt said.

While in college, and still living in Canada, Coffelt was a varsity athlete and runner who competed at the national level.  After she was recruited by U.S. health care company, she ended up moving to Memphis where she continued to run well into her 30’s.  In 2003, however, she required a surgical procedure on her left heel and that became a life-changing event.

Laureen Coffelt got into mountain biking after suffering an
injury in 2003.  Since then, she has excelled in the sport,
riding just for fun, commuting to and from work on a
bike, and winning solo MTB titles at the national level.

“I had to adapt after the injury and surgery and it changed my focus away from running to cycling instead.  It was a pivotal point where I had to let go of no longer being a runner, which had always been part of my identity.  The great silver lining of my injury, though, was that I learned how to adapt and reinvent myself as an athlete.  I can look back now and see it as a true blessing,” Coffelt said.

Beyond the competitive aspect of cycling and her preference for mountain biking, Coffelt has many other reasons why she has a deep love and affinity for her sport.

“What I love most about cycling is that it brings me into nature.  It lets me travel far, and faster than hiking or running.  It lets me truly feel the terrain, the roots, the rocks, the sand…. I connect with it all.  Every new trail has a new experience for me.  Every different weather condition gives the ride a new and different lesson to learn.  I also love the people whom I have met, too.  There is an interconnectedness with being out on the trail, in the woods, for hours,” Coffelt said.

As for what has gotten her to where she is today, and for the success that she has had thus far in cycling, Coffelt attributes it all to three things that drive her, coupled with the support of her friends, especially the one who has helped her and who has been a role model for her.

Persistence, overcoming fear, and always getting back on my bike that have gotten me where I am today.  I have to also say that my friend, Chris Eatough, who is a former 6-time World Solo 24 MTB Champion, has also been instrumental in helping me along the way.  He started coaching athletes as he retired from professional MTB racing and he has been a true role model and friend to me for years,” Coffelt said.

Laureen Coffelt was one of about 150 cyclists who participated
in the 5th Annual, 25-mile, Ride for Life at Memorial Park on
June 26, 2016.  The ride is sponsored by the Mid-South
Transplant Foundation and is done to raise awareness for
organ and tissue donation awareness.  Coffelt is riding
her Pivot Mach 429 SL carbon full-suspension mountain
bike, of which she is especially fond.

“What motivates me to ride and compete now is nature, itself.  The more that we can be in it and appreciate it, the more it can heal us.  I love the rhythm of riding, which for me, means being in the outdoors.  A straight jacket is preferable to me than riding on a trainer or a stationary bike.  I am an all-weather girl,” she said.

Coffelt is on the Los Locos racing team, and has been since they opened themselves up to off-road  MTB athletes in 2010.  It is a team, according to Coffelt, with a great deal of diversity and talent.

She currently has four bikes and is especially fond of her latest one.

“I currently own a Pivot Mach 429 SL carbon full-suspension MTB, a Jet-9 RDO carbon full-suspension 29er, a Trek SF-100, and a Cyclo-Cross Redline bike,” Coffelt said.

“I am especially dialed into the Pivot Mach 429 SL right now.  We do not have a distributor in Memphis; however, Pivot has worked with me, along with Outdoors, Inc., to have it built up here.  The suspension on it rocks, and rough terrain is a special treat.  It corners extremely well on 180-degree hairpin turns and it likes to climb and it is light and can easily be carried,” she said.

Aside from racing, Coffelt also enjoys commuting on a bike to work at OrthoMemphis. 

“I like to ride to and from work and I try to make it longer, depending on time, energy and weather.  It is a short commute of 10 miles one way, taking the safer route, but I can easily pop onto the trails, and make it a 30+ mile mix of bike trails and paths if I want.  Usually, if I work a longer day, I ride on fumes, but I find the mental and physical fatigue of a 11+ hour day and commuting by bike has been more than I ever expected,” Coffelt said.

Laureen Coffelt is a lifelong athlete who is no stranger to the
awards podium, having won countless MTB racing events
ever since she started in it in 2003.

Coffelt especially loves riding at sunrise and sunset since that is the time that she can see all kinds of wildlife like bobcats, skunks, armadillos, racoons, owls, hawks, and more.  Riding at these times, or when it’s dark, doesn’t bother her because she is used to 24-hour solo racing, with many hours in the dark, and she is sponsored by a San Diego company, NiteRider, which provides her with some state-of-the-art lighting for riding.

Coffelt gets a lot of support for her cycling from her colleagues and friends where she works at OrthoMemphis.

“OrthoMemphis supports my athleticism, and the surgeons have readily helped me with my own injuries.  When you are an athlete, it is not a matter of if you will get injured, it’s a matter of when.  I look at those who I work with as an extended family of mine and it is an honor and a daily privilege to be a part of this physician-owned orthopedic practice,” Coffelt said. 

For those who are interested in doing what she does in cycling, Coffelt has some very simple advice.

“Do what you love and love what you do.  Don’t ever be intimidated.  Going in without any expectations is a non-threatening way to start.  I was scared to death to do my first cross-country MTB race, but I knew that I just had to get out there and try,” Coffelt said.

In addition to that advice, Coffelt also sees great potential in all of us, whether you ride or not.

This is a photo of Laureen Coffelt during
her most recent Breck Epic 6-day MTB
stage race with 240 miles of single track
and 40,000 feet of climbing.  She
finished in second for the female in
general category.  Ciara MacManus of
Ireland took first, Coffelt, second, and
Melanie Webb of Australia took third.

“Nature and being on a bike can ground you when there’s chaos all around you, and the power of good is just waiting for us to bring it on.  Each one of us has the power to make positive change in this world.  It’s going to take that to shift things around for the better,” she said.

With a relentless drive and determination in all that she does, Coffelt is likely going to be one of the very ones who will do just that and whatever else that she sets her mind to.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Nedra Deadwyler’s Civil Bikes business is retelling Atlanta’s Civil Rights history and a whole lot more

Nedra Deadwyler’s Civil Bikes business is retelling Atlanta’s Civil Rights history and a whole lot more
By:  Michael Lander

Nedra Deadwyler is the owner of Civil Bikes in
Atlanta, which she started in 2013.  Civil Bikes
offers classes and tours that provide an
opportunity for people in Atlanta to get to
know their city, their history, and one
another.  (Photo:  Courtesy of Cameron
Adams and

There are all kinds of words that could be used to describe Nedra Deadwyler.

She may be seen by most people as being a cycling enthusiast and as an entrepreneur behind a bicycle business (known as Civil Bikes) in the Atlanta area, but she really is so much more than just that.   

Deadwyler is also a healthy-living advocate and a business owner who uses bicycle tours and classes to get people out riding their bikes and learning not only about bicycling, but helping them to also appreciate the people, the history, and the stories, (especially those that occurred throughout the Civil Rights movement), in the city of Atlanta.

In many ways, Deadwyler can also be seen as a visionary, and a voice for social justice, and an advocate for the marginalized and disenfranchised in the Atlanta area and beyond. 

Deadwyler’s Civil Bikes arrived on the scene in Atlanta a little over three years ago.

“I started Civil Bikes in 2013 as a bike tour company that could retell Atlanta’s civil rights history.  It came after years in social work and several attempts to develop a business that reflected my skills, interests, beliefs, passions, and values,” Deadwyler said.

The inspiration for the bicycle tour company came to her when she was on a road trip with a friend in another state.  They were traveling to see various civil rights sites and she thought that it would be great to do this on a bike in Atlanta, so she did just that.

“We began as a pop-up shop in Sweet Auburn, the home of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and have worked out of a rented storage PODS unit along the popular multi-use paths the Atlanta Beltline,” Deadwyler said.

“I currently lead tours from our shop called ‘The Spindle,’ selling urban bike clothing and accessories, as we look for a location where I can store bikes, begin rides, and host larger public events,” she added.

For Deadwyler, the key for success has been having a business model that is creative, extremely flexible and adaptive to her needs.  In the past year, for example, she has even shuttled bikes around Atlanta in her Nissan Versa in order to get them when and where they were needed.

Many people who participate in her guided tours do so because they are either new to riding, unsure of how to safely maneuver on the streets, or they just like going out on rides with others with routes that are already planned out well ahead of time.

“Classes and tours are also a great way for families to connect to each other in ways that improve health and increase a sense of place.  Most people walk away from the rides with a positive feeling and a connection to others and to the place where they live,” Deadwyler said.

“Soon after I started Civil Bikes, my attention quickly turned to bicycling education and equity issues that included getting more women riding, and issues like gentrification, immigration, economic development, and other social issues and trying to gain more visibility for marginalized communities,” Deadwyler said.

Nedra Deadwyler is a native to Atlanta who left it for about a
decade, but returned to the city that she was born and raised.
She hopes to make a difference and to have a positive impact
on its future.  (Photo:  Courtesy of Civil Bikes)

“At Civil Bikes, we use bicycles as a tool to build community and to bring awareness and attention to social issues that exist within our communities.  It is also a voice valuing equity and inclusion and it provides a place where everyone matters and where stories are told of the people embedded in the history of our landscape,” she added.

Civil Bikes does not currently have a storefront, but that doesn’t prevent it from having a real presence in their community.  It offers Atlantans an opportunity to see and to completely rethink their city and its history and it’s all done on bicycle. 

“Some topics of discussion can be difficult or controversial, but the intention is to provide a place to inquire, to see, learn, engage, experience, and to create,” Deadwyler said. 

“Civil Bikes is currently in its own evolution right now.  Beginning in December 2015, I began working with Georgia Bikes, a statewide bicycle advocacy organization and that has changed my focus.  I am thinking now how to make Civil Bikes much more sustainable,” she added.

Deadwyler was born in Atlanta and she was raised in Metro-Atlanta.  She returned home after living in New York City and Seattle for 10 1/2 years.  While she truly loves her native city, she does have a deep concern for some of what is being lost and displaced within it.

“Every day in Atlanta, there is a loss of history as buildings come down and people are displaced due to increase of investment in neighborhoods long neglected,” Deadwyler said.

“Since 2012, 95 percent of Atlanta’s development has been luxury condos, townhouses, apartments and homes, all the while removing those who have less money, less options, less social and political clout, by removing affordable housing,” she said.

Even though she believes that these developments may meet some need, she is very concerned about the long-term ramifications of it.  

“I perceive these as actions as being hostile because they effectively erase social concerns, such as poverty instead of reaching for more equitable solutions,” Deadwyler said.

Atlanta, she feels, is just part of a microcosm of the health and economic disparities that can be found nationally. 

As for cycling, though, Deadwyler sees the progression of that in the Atlanta area as being a much more positive development. 

“There is more bicycle awareness and infrastructure in our city, which means more people are riding bikes.  There is also a push to support transit cyclists, bike only, low-income, and persons of color who ride and live in areas that have little to no infrastructure and/or means of alternative routes that are safe,” Deadwyler said.

Deadwyler, herself, returned to cycling after moving to New York City for graduate school in 2000 to 2001. 

“What I love most about cycling is the freedom and the positive experience that it gives me that I can share with others.  It’s also trendy now to be on a bicycle – It’s mainstream and that changes everything,” Deadwyler said.

“People want to be healthy and to socialize.  Riding a bicycle provides a way to do that and to be active and it’s also super-flexible and that’s a great characteristic about it, too,” she said.

Nedra Deadwyler loves bicycling and her Civil Bikes business, which
has already been recognized for what it, and she, has done in the
three years since its inception.  (Photo:  Courtesy of

“Bicycling can also bring opportunity in all kinds of ways and directions.  It’s up to each community, though, to decide what is wanted with their own vision, not just recreating what has already been done somewhere else.  They need to make it their own,” she added.

In March of this year, Deadwyler attended the National Bike Summit in Washington, D.C.

“I attended the National Bike Summit and was presented with the
Gail Coups Spann and Jim Spann Educator of the Year award.  It was a surprise and a huge encouragement for me to keep moving and to not give up the work,” Deadwyler said. 

“I was also part of a panel discussion with three generation leaders of the bike movement who have been working in different ways to get more people to ride bicycles,” she added.

Deadwyler has many goals for the future, which includes not only making Civil Bikes a labor of love, but also something that is successful all around.

“I want Civil Bikes to be respected by all who come in contact with it and I want it to be seen as an outstanding model for how businesses should be, to include  being socially engaged and responsible and not just profit-driven,” she said.  

With that being said, Deadwyler would also like to be accepted, acknowledged, and supported, which means that people will come to do business with Civil Bikes and not just applaud them or recognize them for what they’re doing.

“Throughout all this, I am striving to make positive contributions in society and I want to live out my values and to live a life that builds deeper connections while honoring my ancestors,” Deadwyler said.

“I support the effort for world peace and that people can learn to live as one and not judge each other.  I hope that I’m alive when this all becomes mainstream and that people will check their fear at the door.  Until then, I will keep my mind on that vision and try not to get too jaded by all the events in the world today,” she added.

In addition to riding bikes around Atlanta, Deadwyler also loves walking, especially with her dog, hiking, and being out in nature.  Mountain biking is a favorite activity of her and she is interested in taking some swimming classes. 

“I’m a weak swimmer and my summer goal is to become better at it.  In the past, I was also a runner and soccer player, but both are activities that I’ve quit because of injuries.  I’m really quite a klutz,” she said.

However you want to describe Deadwyler, she is someone who is seeking to make a difference in the world and that makes her an inspiration for others, everywhere.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

The latest death of a cyclist killed near the airport is the fourth one since 2015 in Memphis

The latest death of a cyclist killed near the airport is the fourth one since 2015 in Memphis
By:  Michael Lander

This is the intersection of Winchester and Bishops Bridge
Road, (near Memphis International Airport).  It is the
scene of the latest fatality of a cyclist in Memphis.
There have been seven of these since 2010.

A 49-year-old Memphis area cyclist, Archer "Archie" Sims, was struck and killed Thursday morning, Aug. 4, 2016, near the intersection of Winchester and Bishops Bridge Rd., near Memphis International Airport.

Sims, who died at the scene, was attempting to cross Winchester Rd., just west of Bishops Bridge Rd., at around 5:30 a.m., when he was hit by a 2003 Chevrolet Tahoe.  

Sims had been traveling east on Winchester from his Whitehaven residence, which is approximately seven miles away from where the crash occurred. 

He was reportedly wearing dark clothes and he did not have a helmet on.

The driver of the Tahoe has been identified as 27-year-old Melvin D. Campbell who remained at the scene following the accident. 

Campbell was subsequently transported to the traffic office at 1925 Union Ave. where he gave a statement and was then arrested for an outstanding warrant, driving with a suspended, revoked, or canceled license, and for not having insurance.

Sims is believed to have been on his way to work, which was about 13 miles southeast of his home.

He was a Memphis resident who was originally from Hernando, Miss.  He graduated from high school in Hernando and was employed at Valley Crest Landscape Maintenance, located at 5345 E. Holmes Rd.  

On social media, Sims identified Proverbs 25:28 as being one of his favorite Biblical passages:  "He who hath no control over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls."
This is an image of a ghost bike.  Ghost bikes are often placed
at the scene of where cyclists are killed.  The location of
Memphis' latest fatality of a cyclist often has a high volume
of vehicular traffic that is traveling above the speed limit
with little room for cyclists and no bike lanes.  (Photo:
Courtesy of

Sims is the latest death of a cyclist on Memphis area streets and he is the fourth one since 2015.  The other three were Justin Townsend, Zachary Walls, and Eric Dyrell Tayor.  

The death of a cyclist before Sims was Justin Townsend who was riding his bicycle when he was run over and killed on Oct. 9, 2015 in a hit-and-run crash not far from his North Memphis home.

Prior to Townsend's death was Zachary Walls who was struck and killed in the Binghampton neighborhood at the intersection of Sam Cooper and Tillman on Monday, March 9, 2015.  

Like Townsend, Eric Dyrell Taylor was also killed by a hit-and-run driver while riding on the 3300 block of New Getwell Road near Winchester on Feb. 25.  Click here for more information on their deaths.

Altogether, since 2010, the Memphis area has witnessed the deaths of seven cyclists.  The latest death is the only one, thus far, in 2016.  There were three in 2015 and there was one that occurred in July 2014 at U.S. Hwy 61 and Star Landing Rd in Desoto County in Mississippi.

All of these deadly accidents are a sad and tragic reminder of some of the dangers that cyclists can face any time that they ride, and it further emphasizes the need for cyclists to remain vigilant, particularly on roads with a high volume of traffic moving at or above the speed limit.

The latest death of a cyclist in Memphis shows that, even
though the city has made strides with bicycle lanes and
trails, there is still a lot more than can and should be
done to make them even safer for Memphis area cyclists.

Even though accidents cannot always be avoided, cyclists can take precautions to help minimize some of the risks that are involved, most notably, having bikes that are equipped with lights on the front and back, with reflectors, by wearing bright and reflective clothing, and by choosing alternative roadways that do not have high volumes of traffic with vehicles traveling at excessively high rates of speed.

Here are some links to some valuable safety-related information that should help to make each bike ride a much safer experience for all cyclists:,, and

For funeral and visitation information on Archer Sims, you can contact N.J. Ford Funeral Home, at 12 South Parkway West, by calling 948-7755 or by visiting their website at: