Wednesday, April 11, 2007

YOU CAN'T LEAVE THE NEIGHBORHOOD

I am madly envious of Another Working Mom, and not just because she has a great garden, and not just because she has great parents who are moving to her town, but chiefly because she can actually bike places.

I recently bought a nice cruiser bicycle for myself, so that The Husband and I could take bike rides at the same time, rather than trading off. Plus, he has a big macho bike with an uncomfortable seat, and no kickstand*, and you have to hunch over the handlebars.

* I know, kickstands aren't cool. And if you're Lance Armstrong, they get in the way. However, I pull a double baby cart behind my bike, which means I have to strap two babies (one baby, one toddler) into it, and you try doing that while holding up a bike that has no freakin' kickstand.

But I digress.

Imagine, if you will, a square. Inside the square is our neighborhood. On sides A, B, and C are grocery stores/strip malls with restaurants, frozen yogurt, a used book store, a bead shop, etc.

On side D is a sidewalk. A nice, wide-enough sidewalk to ride one's bike. (The streets on sides A, B, C and D are filled with racing traffic, making biking -- especially with a cart of precious cargo -- a really bad idea.)

But here's the rub. Just about a block on either end of side D ... the sidewalk ends.

Ends!

Now, Shel Silverstein referred to the place where the sidewalk ends as a wonderful, lovely place. But when one is on a bike, pulling a cart, the place where the sidewalk ends is a big fat slap in the face. One expects to hear a big booming voice, like from that movie with Jim Carrey where his life was secretly a movie set. "Do Not Leave The Neighborhood."

I want to move someplace bike-friendly. Memphis is looking good.

5 comments:

Kaleigh said...

I wouldn't call all of Memphis bike-friendly. But downtown Memphis is definitely bike-friendly. And my house is a five-minute walk from St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Just sayin'.

Memphis gets a bad rap, but it's a pretty great place, in my opinion. Low cost of living, lots of big-city amenities without big-city size (you can get anywhere in the metro area in less than 45 minutes...and you can get to the "country" in less than 30). Plus, the Mississippi river.

Seriously, if you're thinking of moving here, let me know. I'll be happy to help you do research.

Jess said...

(this is one of my hot buttons, so do take with a grain of salt)

Riding a bike on the sidewalk is so much more dangerous than riding as part of traffic. The main reason is where the sidewalks and streets intersect - drivers are not looking for anything moving faster than a pedestrian coming off the sidewalk, especially when turning right. When you ride as part of traffic, drivers are forced to acknowledge that you're there and go around you. The vast majority of bicycle-car accidents happen at intersections where the bike is on the sidewalk.

If you want to feel more comfortable using your bike as transportation, you might look for an Effective Cycling course in your area.

And another good resource is appropriately titled "How to not get hit by cars"

http://bicyclesafe.com/index.html

< /soapbox >

Lizard Eater said...

I would agree with you, Jess, except that I'm pulling a trailer of babies. In a town that has no respect for cyclers and walkers. (A UU friend of mine, and a seminarian, died a couple of years ago, walking.) So, I stay on the sidewalk, stop at all intersections and wave any turning cars to go first. Unless a car would hop the curb, I'm in control.

And when one of those wild joggers comes along, I pull over and cede the sidewalk to him. Or her.

Lizard Eater said...

But thanks for both of the links!

Nancy said...

That is frustrating! I live across from a giant parcel of public land I can't explore by myself for fear of being shot/abducted/babyjacked, etc. The road has no shoulder, and I have to drive to a trail to get outside. It's silly but it's true.

P.S. I love Shel Silverstein! I can't read The Giving Tree without crying!