Welcome to our bi-monthly contribution from The Bikesmith, Jim Steffen. Twice a month he’ll highlight a local bike enthusiast and get their perspective on riding in Memphis. Leave your nominations in the comments.
Sara is the face behind the charming voice on the Bike Nerd Podcast (well, one of them, the other voice is Kyle Wagenschutz’s). And she is the driving force behind Explore Bike Share. She’s working hard to set up Memphis’s bike share program, similar programs have done wonders for the residents and tourists of other cities.
Where is your favorite place in Memphis to ride?
Favorite place for a solo ride is through Overton Park in the very early morning. Biking through the Old Forest is close to therapy.
I also enjoy any ride with friends that will get me to a bar with that serves prosecco and stinky cheese.
What was your first bike?
My first bike was pink/purple, covered with music themed graphics and got me all over the neighborhood, to school and beyond.
What is Explore Bike Share and what awesome things are you planning for the city?
Explore Bike Share is launching a bike share system in Memphis. Bike share will advance our city on multiple fronts: transportation, tourism, health, environment, and culture. The benefits of bicycling are far-reaching, from sharing culture to improving health. Memphis has seen a wave of innovation in how we view our public spaces, as demonstrated through the revitalization of areas like Crosstown, Broad Avenue and Overton Square and the creation of a bike lane and greenway network. Our next opportunity for innovation is transportation. We believe bike share is part of that innovation.
Our goal for bike share is that it will be accessible to as many Memphians as possible and that it will be a tool for community groups and organizations to use in their work.
If someone wants to learn more or help you guys, what should they do?
They should like us on Facebook, show their support by visiting explorebikeshare.com and talk about bike share and the opportunity it presents with all their friend/colleagues AND reach out to us on how bike share can be a tool for their organization or community.
Where’s the first place you intend to ride on a Bike Share bike?
I intend to bike from Overton Park to Loflin Yard downtown for wine, meat and cheese (do you see a theme here?) and then a trip over the Harrahan Bridge.
What’s a “bike nerd”?
Kyle and I started the podcast because of fantastic, intelligent and funny conversations we had with friends and colleagues over food and drinks. People are smart, we want to share that. I think we are all nerds, whether it be star wars, gardening, the Real Housewives or bikes. My definition of a bike nerd is someone who is passionate about the benefits of biking – health, culture, community, environment and transportation. While we don’t discuss gear or mechanics on The Bike Nerd podcast, as someone not mechanically inclined I greatly respect bike mechanic nerds.
Biking crosses so many other interests that I think it is easy to get nerdy about it. People who bike also have jobs, hobbies, families, dreams, challenges and favorite colors. That’s a lot of nerds.
What’s the craziest story someone’s told you on the podcast so far?
I am waiting for someone to spill a total crazy guilty pleasure, secret alter ego or presidential candidacy but that hasn’t happened it. It will though, I have a feeling.
Erin Barnes, Executive Director and Founder of Ioby, shared a story about Atlanta resident, Binh Dam, who did a guerilla campaign installing bus schedules at transit stops in downtown Atlanta. This effort led to the transit authority, MARTA, creating the MARTA Army which is a innovative citizen group that works with the transit agency to improve the rider experience across the system. I absolutely LOVE the common sense idea that transit would be more accessible by posting the schedules and that MARTA’s response wasn’t to tear down the signage but to listen to Dam and form a group to further his vision. The story literally gave me chills. It is powerful and crazy.
Here is a video that tells the story better then me .
Erin, Kyle and I discuss this on The Bike Nerds Podcast that will be released on Monday, May 16th.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to begin biking in Memphis and doesn’t know where to start?
It is OK to not feel confident – you don’t need special clothes, a new bike or particular skill. Not to long ago I used to drive to the Greenline or a park to bike. I was terrified of biking on the road – fear of safety, fear of not looking cool, fear of embarrassing myself. I challenged myself to bike one block from the house, and then two blocks, and then ask people that biked what routes they used, and then biked three blocks, etc., etc. Fast forward to today biking is a huge part of my life – how I get groceries, work out, socialize with friends and an option to get to work.
That being said, if at the end of the day you want to just bike in your driveway or put your bike in your car to get to a green space. Do you. Biking doesn’t define you. You define it.
And finally, can you teach me how to ride a wheelie?
No. I may be the least qualified person in Memphis to teach you. I can barely walk on two feet and successfully biking on two wheels is a blessing everyday. I would though participate in a wheelie workshop. Feels like a Bikesmith programming opportunity.