Where does your State Rank?

M sent a link to this article from 2015 where The League of American Bicyclists ranks states based on policies and infrastructure funding strategies that encourage people to get on bicycles. I thought I’d pass it along. Tennessee came in at 20 (up from 39 in 2014). I know it is a little old, but we can look at this and have something to celebrate if our state rises the next time a ranking is published! (thinking optimistic)

You can read the article, or you can skip right to the state rankings and report cards on the bikeleague.org website.

Are you surprised by any of the states in the Top 10?

  1. Washignton
  2. Minnesota
  3. Deleware
  4. Massachusetts
  5. Utah
  6. Oregon
  7. Colorado
  8. California
  9. Wisconsin
  10. Maryland

I’m going to keep an eye out on Tennessee’s state bicycle-friendliness report card.

Save a Life: 3′

During the month of April I am staying with an active family during my remodel. This cycling family usually mountain bikes or racks up serious miles on a road bikes (triathletes, sheesh!) instead of my more purposeful trips. This weekend, while we did a mix of all kinds of rides on all kinds of bikes, I learned something: drivers slow down and pass me wider than they do other cyclists.

I don’t know if it because of my gender, because my trike is more visible, or because drivers think I am disabled; but the adult male cyclist in my group this weekend commented on how much safer it is to ride in front of me because the cars slow down and move over. Maybe that is why I take some heavily trafficked roads that he avoids (or dreads). I’m not complaining about the extra consideration, but think I should advocate on behalf of the non-female, non-trike cyclists on the road…

When you see a runner or cyclist on the shoulder or right side of the road, do you know the proper passing etiquette?  You should slow down and pass them with a safe distance. The definition of slow is less than 35 MPH and the definition of safe distance is over 3 feet (or one meter). In Tennessee, like most states, a minimum of 3′ is the law:

TCA 55-8-175 – Riding on Roadways and Bike Paths –  (c)  (1) This subsection (c) shall be known and may be cited as the “Jeff Roth and Brian Brown Bicycle Protection Act of 2007.”    (2) The operator of a motor vehicle, when overtaking and passing a bicycle proceeding in the same direction on the roadway, shall leave a safe distance between the motor vehicle and the bicycle of not less than three feet (3′) and shall maintain the clearance until safely past the overtaken bicycle. (d) A violation of this section is a Class C misdemeanor. 

What can you do?

  1. car passing cyclistSlow down and give travelers with less than four wheels (cyclists and runners) a nice wide safe margin when you pass them.
  2. Raise motorists’ awareness for the 3′ law. This site sells gear to raise awareness while biking, but you can post to social media and reach your network anytime. Frankly, some rednecks and idiots think it is funny to buzz past bikes. Let them know it doesn’t make them funny: it makes them assholes.
  3. If you happen to by this guy in London, you can use your GoPro to have the law enforced. You can find out the law in your state at this site.

yellow bumper sticker it's safer it's courteous it's the law

In Chattanooga, police officers on bicycles track the distance a motorist passes them using some relatively high-tech methods. I’m not sure it keeps all motorists safe, but the news coverage on the system may have made motorists generally more aware of the 3′ law.

In short, give bicyclists and pedestrians a safe margin of at least three feet when you pass them: it is the law!

Save a Life: Dutch Reach

I ended March on a bit of a campaign trail regarding bikes. I was pushing two programs via social media: “30 Days of Biking” and “The Dutch Reach“.

As most of my cycling peeps in our relatively not-bike-friendly small community probably predicted, the campaign did not end well. Only three other people in my town made the #30DaysofBiking pledge this year.

So I am settling for making April about personally biking daily and making the dutch reaching a habit.  Since I am living with a family during some remodeling, I’m widening my sphere of influence to them. When I can’t reach the community, I can start with my house.

You: Back up, The Dutch Reach?

Me: I’m so glad you asked!

Every year bicyclists and motorcyclists are injured when motorists open car doors in front of them.

The Dutch Reach is a simple way to save lives that everyone should practice. In countries (like the USA) where drivers sit on the left side of the car and drive on the right side of the road, drivers should open their car door with their right hand. This is not the most efficient exit: it causes you to twist as you “reach” for the door and you automatically see beside and behind you. In the USA, drivers should open their car doors with their right hand. Much like D.A.R.E and Smokey Bear programs in the USA, Dutch school children have been taught this method for 50 years!

Child on Bike swerving to miss open car door.

When you reach across your body to open the door, you are more likely to see a bicycle or motorcycle and less likely to open your door on them. You are also more likely to see a vehicle coming and not step out into an oncoming vehicle. The Dutch Reach saves injury and damage to your door!

You: I now know The Dutch Reach saves lives, but how cYellow ribbon tied on car door handlean I remember to use it?

Me: You are fighting years of muscle memory and programming. It will take Mindfulness and visual cues (tie ribbons on your door handles). Be patient with yourself and those in your car as you reprogram, but don’t give up! Lives may depend on it!

(1) Teach the Reach. Help your passengers remember to use this method too.

(2) Promote. The advocacy website for The Dutch Reach is already saving lives by promoting research, providing educational materials, and posting media that can be used by people like us on blogs like this. Click the link to find resources to spread the message on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

Driver opening door with right hand and looking back.

Ho Ho Ho!!!

Cold temperatures kept Nellie and I from adventuring much this month.  I’ve risked driving a car (maybe more than I should) and only taken her out for short errands.  That changed this weekend!

Each year Knoxville, TN closes a course around Market Square for about an hour and a half to allow about 1,000 riders on bikes, trikes, tandems, and unicycles to hit the streets for a highly-unregulated, wildly-festive parade.  Billed as “a fun, free bike parade through downtown, 4th & Gill and Old North Knoxville”, riders are encouraged to get creative with lights, costumes and decorations. The route is about 5 miles long and takes about an hour to ride (read “very slow pace” here). All streets are completely closed for the event. Hot cocoa and treats are available thanks to Mast General Store and Three Rivers Market.

Festive bike ridimg

Tuesday, M posed the idea to deck out bikes with “Christmas Clutter” and join the festivities at the 10th Annual Tour de Lights in Knoxville, TN.  (I am staying with an outdoorsy family for a couple of weeks.)

Wednesday, K and I  shopped for the necessary tinsel and twinkle (K drove). We started at Goodwill for costumes, hit Big Lots, picked up M from school, and then finished out at Everything’s $1. Fortified with tater tots and frosty beverages, we spent the evening decking the halls bikes.  Three reindeer and Santa. Nellie wore a sleigh costume for the evening.

Friday, we loaded the bikes and navigated to a public garage. We arrived a bit ruffled, but had a glorious time! Lots of carols, lots of lights, and even more “Merry Christmas”es from the poor schmucks caught by closed streets and forced to watch. A cone-shaped Santa with flapping arms towering over a tandem definitely deserved a prize for best decorations. While we didn’t stick around for judging, I’m pretty sure we were in the running for “Best Group Theme”. Other than a herd of Christmas pigs (the size of the herd was impressive), I didn’t see a group who compared.  However, the event was NOT a race or competition… it was simple, glorious, festive silliness.

After the ride we did another 3 mile out-and-back for a bite at Mellow Mushroom and pass through UT’s campus. After a long week, the kids sacked out in the car within a few minutes. Fun memories to entertain me on another sleepless night!

I bet M hopes that K will be available for some kind of pre-Christmas merriment next year. I’m looking forward to my next biking adventure. It turns out that bike-people are my kind of people: a long suspected correlation. Will I see any of you there next year?


Rail Trail is Officially Open

Putnam County, TN was excited to celebrate the official opening of the Tennessee Central Heritage Rail Trail with the expected ribbon cutting ceremony. A lot of individuals and organizations worked together for eleven years to make this trail a possibility.

I won’t list them, but will include a link for an article that covers trail rules.

Rail Trail Opening Ceremony
Rail Trail Opening Ceremony

I attended the grand opening at 2:45 on a weekday afternoon. I was the only tricycle rider there, but two sets of tandems attended and more than a handful of bikes. The suits and politicians arrived via passenger train cars (which I thought was a nice touch).

The trail connects Algood to the Cookeville Depot on the West Side.  There are many access points to the trail and it is no coincidence that I bought a house within 1/2 mile of one of the access points! I’ve used the trail for over a month, but it is official open now. In the last couple of weeks I have seen much more use of the trail. At times it could even be called “crowded”!

A sort of odd version of a map of the trail is published online.  But, access points dump you out on Washington Avenue, near TTU, at some of the major employers, within a mile of Cookeville High School, Cinderella Park, etc. I hope to see bike racks popping up at businesses near these trail access points!

Hopes vs. Plans vs. Today

Not all plans work out. It seems that most of mine fall into this category.

I planned to sell my house and move into a smaller one that had a 68% Walk Score. It was an short sale deal that I could buy and fix up with cash: no mortgage! I was excited about the location and potential for me to be less isolated due to Nellie. I was excited about the proximity of close friends and my special interest groups. It was also very close to a potential employer that I plan hope to use as a stepping stone as if my health improves over the coming months.

The first stumble to the plan came when my house didn’t sell on time. Something happened on the buyer’s side that meant I had a house with no furniture or utilities for over a week. Fortunately, I stayed mostly with friends during that time.

The second stumble was more devastating. The bank holding the note on the mortgage would not sign off on the short sale. I was left with a truck full of stuff and no where to go. I ended up throwing what was not in garages and empty rooms of Mike’s house into two storage units. I stayed with Mike and Chris. I camped some. I spent some time in Kentucky. I rented two rooms (no stove, microwave, dishwasher, laundry, etc) for a short term solution to not sleeping in my car. I think the ordeal cost me about $2,500. The stress of being homeless probably took some days off the end of my life.

Now, I am pressed up against a self-imposed deadline of finding a permanent place to live before August 1st. And–with a few days to spare–I think I found one!

How did I find a tiny house to buy when nothing is for sale in the current real estate market? I drove around an area of a small town that is connected to a 5-mile bike path that leads to a larger town. I drove each block of the area with tiny old houses and noted each empty house that looked small enough for me to afford. Then I tracked the owners down through the PVA and Google. I had several very odd conversations with unhappily stalked people. But… it worked! I think I have found a housing solution! I am going to set the plan in motion on Monday.

Some of the features: the house is less than 1/3 the size of my last home. I will also be replacing a oversized two-car garage and outbuilding with ZERO outdoor storage. That is what we call downsizing folks! I’m trading that for no mortgage and walkability. Some might say that I am not a minimalist ahem but I beg to differ and will learn with this house.

While this house has a 31% Walk Score, the addition of the paved bike path and Nellie‘s range makes it a good option for me.

The next few weeks will be busy. Among other things, I will be glad to get Nellie out of the weather for parking. Tonight I am celebrating the end of a terrific weekend and the settling down of a new plan.

Weekend victories:

  1. Celebrated National Hammock Day in my new Eno (birthday gift) at Ozone Falls.
  2. Fulfilled my long hair / waterfall photo fantasy. Contact me if you’d like a similar photo and I will put you in touch with my photographer. 
  3. Took a motorcycle trip with Nick and Megan to Historic Granville to witness a live radio broadcast at Sutton’s Ole Time Music Hour.
  4. Nursed an Angry Orchard Cider at Father Tom’s.


Meeting the Neighbors

It has taken me some time to update due to my health and my move. As tempting as it is to try to go back and fill in the missing sections, I have decided to just press on and try to go forward.

IMG954117 1 (1)

I did want to point out that Nellie is a good way to meet the neighbors.

I wanted to do a full update on the trunk design (and that may come later), but for now just know that the trunk is on and I am now able to make purposeful trips. One such trip is for groceries.

Nellie at the bike rack on the corner of our local IGA. Bumper and trunk visible.This photo was taken from a recent grocery run. I over-bought and had to bungie the trunk lid down and ride with bags dangling from both handlebars. Luckily, this store is less than 2 miles from my front door. I love being able to shop at an IGA for as much as possible, but often find myself supplementing produce and international foods at Kroger and specialty stores. Those bigger stores are able to offer a better selection, but I find that IGAs have better prices on the items that they do carry. Follow THIS LINK to find an IGA near you.

This evening I checked out a small park in the community. I thought a Tai Chi group met there, but I wasn’t able to find them. Alas, I guess I will have to find another way to meet some people and find my zen.

I’ll head to the farmer’s market next weekend to see how much variety is there and give a full report.

Warm Rain

A few days ago I spent an evening at the Greenway, but didn’t write a post. I’m not feeling well and I have days where I can’t think well enough to write. It has taken a few days to get this written and several edits to make it clean enough for you to understand… or at least I hope it is intelligible now. Sorry, no photos or URLs. Just words is all I am capable of for now.

The evening started with a quick dog walk and frog release at the river. It has been particularly dry this spring. I rescued about 50 tadpoles from a drying puddle at Long Hunter State Park (leaving thousands behind to captivate curious children and die to nature as the puddle disappeared) about two weeks ago. Anyway, it was fun to watch them metamorphosize. Mike and I released the Peeper froglets into the puddles that formed where the Stone’s River usually flows. We stood back and watched as the froglets immediately left the puddle for the cover of rocks at the bank. They were pretty cute. My dog was unimpressed.

It was a nice night and the Greenway was empty. I guess the grey clouds told everyone else to stay home. After a quick run (yeah, yeah, I’ll talk about running another time, for now let’s go with “doctor’s orders”), Mike and I pulled the bikes out of the bed of his truck and took a leisurely ride. The heavy clouds, empty trail, and setting sun brought a stillness that was nice. We were about a mile out when the rain hit and we sat the worst of it out under a bridge. Nellie‘s tires aren’t the best on wet boardwalk and there was quite a bit of skidding. I also experienced her first wet-break squeal, which was loud despite having my hearing aids out to protect them from getting wet. Waiting it out in the rain caused us to miss time and I tested Nellie‘s lights out on the way back (e.g. we missed the park closing and were out past dark). We tend to close down restaurants and bookstores, but this is the first time we closed down a park. Total trip = 6 miles (plus the walk to the river and run earlier in the evening).

A stroll or ride by the river, diner with friends under the stars, sitting around a campfire… I love still evenings outside where the focus is on the company or the quiet.

I bought a little basket for Nellie‘s front handle bars. It will be a good place to keep my keys, phone and water bottle. Until the trunk is ready, it is also holding a couple of emergency items and the chain/lock. Unfortunately, bad health days mean that I am very scattered and have no focus. [I apologize for the grumpy and poorly written blog post: it is part of the disease.] The result is that I somehow lost my chain/lock between the Greenway and my garage. I hope it is having fun with my glasses and the 1000 other things I’ve lost over the last few months. Grrr.

At some point I worked with using the trike to walk my dog. I need to retrace our steps because I could have lost the chain then. I just thought of that…. this is a stream-of-conscious note so I don’t forget.

It is the end of April. The official 30 Days of Biking challenge is ending, but I am only at the midpoint (since I started over when I picked Nellie up on 4/15). I’ve missed one day that I am aware of, but my days tend to run together so there may have been another miss along the way.

Nice to have a dirty trike in the garage. Until next time…

Sunday Visit(s)

I set out with Nellie on Sunday to “test her legs”. I decided to visit a good friend and fellow caver, Justin, who lives on the other side of Murfreesboro. I needed to return a pair of jeans that I borrowed months ago at our last caving adventure (AKA the flimsy excuse for a longer trip on Nellie on a pretty Sunday). Siri’s driving directions note a 44.4 mile round trip, but a bike trip is 38 miles because it makes use of the entire Murfreesboro Greenway. It was ambitious, but I had all day and decided that Justin could carry us back if things went badly–as long as I reached his house.

Yellow Tricycle in front of Red Ladder Truck #7.The trip down was eventful. Wide open, Nellie will travel 25 mph with effortless pedaling. I am still learning about the trike and discovered that the bars within the battery-shaped-thing on my display panel do not indicate the amount of charge remaining in the battery. My lesson was that I should always fully charge at home before a trip. In this case doing so would have made the day vastly different, so I don’t regret needing an emergency stop this time. Fortunately, the battery died while in a bike lane on Thompson Lane. I rode less than a mile with no power assist before pulling into Murfreesboro Fire and Rescue Station #7. I sat on a bench under a tree behind the station while Nellie drank volts from an extension cord. I didn’t let her charge completely before heading to the Greenway Trailhead. I thought I’d finish charging at the outlet there. When I arrived, I found the outlet dead.

Aaron runs in field with GrabTechRC flag behind him.
Aaron (GrabTechRC owner) on quadcopter course at Greenway

I looked around the park for another outlet and found the only source of power to be coming from a generator that some guys with drones had setup for their event. Community, right? I decided to make friends. Their generator was charging their remotes, copters, goggles and viewer-thingies. They were very nice and quickly introduced me to their hobby: “quadcopters” (not “drones”, the difference is apparently the fact that they fly them by radio remote rather than computer). Anyway, I plugged into the generator at the GrabTechRC tent, so I thought I’d plug the business here. GrabTechRC is a local ebusiness that custom builds copters & drones and ships all over the US and Canada. After watching a few flights through an obstacle course in the field and witnessing a couple of crashes, I made my way to the trail as their lunch arrived.

Murfreesboro Greenway MapThe Greenway is such a nice addition to Murfreesboro! I passed walkers, bikers, kayakers, fisher-people, and runners from all slices of life. From toddler tricyclists and tiny people being pushed in prams, to millennials with picnic baskets, to multi-national couples strolling through retirement… the pavilions along the way were full and the river was dotted with use… there were lots of dogs (especially near the bark park) as well as some lizard, fish, rabbit, and deer sightings… it felt like the city was alive and healthy in a way that I don’t experience from the road.

Somewhere around the Old Fort Park Trailhead I spoke with a woman who was interested in building a trike as a pedal-cart icy business. I was happy to plug MOAB again. The playground there was absolutely packed.

A good day. I liked the Greenway…

…until it ended unexpectedly 3 miles short of my friend’s house (which sits across from Barfield Crescent Park). The trail connects to Barfield Road 3 miles short of Barfield Park. Red dashed lines on maps are important. I ran out of trail with not-enough battery power and made another stop for charge (at a Rutherford County Fire & Rescue Station).

Man watering plants in a beekeeping suit.
My favorite pic of Justin.

By the time I reached Justin’s, I had been on the road longer than expected and had soaked in too much sun, but the time visiting a friend more than made up for a light sunburn. Vitamin D, right? It turned out to be an old fashioned Sunday visit. After a tour of his garden and orchard, we settled on his back patio to sip sweating drinks, watch the shadows fall across the yard, and talk about recent hiking & caving adventures and upcoming trips (mostly his trips since mine have been gobbled recently by sleepless nights). We sat and talked for a couple of hours while Nellie refueled for the trip home. I remembered to return the pants. We decided that our next visit will be camping at a preserve, so I have that to look forward to.

The trip home was much less eventful. On an 2.25 hour charge, I didn’t have to make any refueling stops on the 18-mile return. I used power assist level 1 (of 5) on the Greenway to conserve battery life.

Two features about the trike that I need to check in to:

  1. I would like to display batter life or have some kind of battery indicator.
  2. The odometer reading only counts the miles used with power assist. When I pedal-only, the miles aren’t recorded. 



The Community of Joyful Cyclists

I found an charitable initiative called “30 Days of Biking” online and joined in! To kickstart my move toward less-car-more-feet, I pledged to ride my bike every day in April and share my adventures online. For every two pledges, @30daysofbiking donates $1 to World Bicycle Relief. World Bicycle Relief mobilizes people around the world where distance is a barrier to education, healthcare and economic opportunity.

Over 8,000 joyful cyclists pledged to ride their bikes every day of April 2016. That’s a lot of bicycles!

2016-04-02 10.00.42Day #1: April 1st. The Trike delay
means I had to pump up the tires on my old Huffy city bicycle. I planned to be on it just long enough to check off the day: “yes, I did ride a bike on 4/1/2016”.  The pledge clearly states that “around the block works, 100 miles does, too. The distance, destination and doughnut selections are up to you.” I went to the end of the driveway and back.  It was enough. When I made the turn to come back, my vertigo sent me into the garbage can at the curb. Yuck, but could have been worse. If I needed confirmation that I can’t ride a 2-wheeler, I now have it.

Day #2 (and beyond) : As the blog shows, the trike wasn’t ready for the start of April, so I decided to do my own 30-day streak with a friend whenever it is complete. Riding a 2-wheeler for a few feet just to participate in the @30daysofbiking did not seem to be in the spirit of the initiative. So, I will take the spirit and be flexible on the official start date.

More soon…