Pizza Party!! bike ride wrap-up & commentary
Saturday, November 16th
After gathering everyone at the start point, we rolled out from the Shelby Bottoms Nature Center for a chill greenway loop and then headed out of the park and up towards Five Points Pizza in East Nashville.
Since we were in a large group, I opted to stay in the wide lane on Davidson Street going towards downtown. We were going to take a right onto Crutcher, only a few blocks up from the park entrance, and there is no greater difficulty than taking a large group on a bike ride and merging left to get into a “protected” bike lane only to try to get everyone out of said lane to make a right hand turn.
(I might have fewer complaints about this two-way track if it were on the right hand side of the street, since there’s a greater likelihood of humans wanting to turn right into the commercial and residential districts of 37206 as opposed to the industrial buildings on the left.)
The cruise up to Five Points Pizza via 5th and Fatherland was relatively easy; the light at 5th and Shelby was too short to get our large group through, so we waited at the top of the hill to regroup.
Arriving at the pay lot behind Five Points Pizza, we moved all the e-scooters which were clustered around the bike racks so we could park and lock up. I noticed a woman sitting alone in her SUV and counted at least 7 bikes that carried 9 people occupying a similarly sized parking space. We were hungry, and ate 1 small and 1 large pizza, 1 small vegan pizza, 1 salad, at least 5 other slices, and had at least 5 or 6 beers and 3 or 4 sodas. I would roughly estimate our group spent $150 on our orders.
After securing a recalcitrant 3 year old back on the cargo bike, we set out for our journey across town to Pizza Perfect. This part of the ride would prove to be slightly more difficult due to the timing of stop lights, elevation up from the river, and cars parked in bike lanes darting out into the wide lane after dropping off passengers. We all made it up Demonbreun to the Music Row traffic circle and cut over off Music Row onto 18th. Taking the slow, slopey hill on 18th was our final push to burn off the earlier pizza (and we had our own personal trainer with us, jubilantly shouting “YOU CAN DO THIS!!! GET IT!!!” as we chugged up the hill), and then we rolled into the parking lot for Pizza Perfect.
Y’all. I love Pizza Perfect and its sister establishment Kay Bob’s. But the bike parking there (and the disdain shown by able-bodied drivers who park in the disabled parking spaces) is pitiful. PITIFUL. The bike rack is now no longer assembled and just lays in pieces underneath the back staircase (it was never installed properly in the first place). Fortunately, many of us had cable locks to wrap around the 6X6s supporting the staircase.
The property owner, Hillsboro Food Festival LP, has as its registered agent a Frederick Grace at 3309 Fairmont Drive, Nashville, TN 37203. Here’s an example of a good letter asking for bike parking and here’s a great breakdown of why it’s a good thing to provide attractive bike parking.
Personally, I think one of the car parking spaces in that back parking lot should be cordoned off and converted into a covered bike corral, unless something clever could be done with the space underneath the back staircase. But at the end of the day, business owners and property owners won’t provide bike parking unless there are vocal (and, likely, wealthy) proponents of it. We can at least be the vocal part.
We had a smaller group at Pizza Perfect than at the start, and our orders were probably closer to $100 total spent.
On the pizza-laden return to the Nature Center, we were greeted with beautiful downhills (and cars parked in bike lanes on Demonbreun). There was one solo bike rider who was filming himself with the cars in the bike lanes – he shouted his YouTube channel at the main group as we cruised by, and then later some other riders who were catching up to us spoke to him directly, but none of us can remember his name or YouTube channel. Something about “Stop Trying to Kill Me” or “Stop Killing Me” – I’d sure love to know who this guy was and see some of the videos he’s produced.
All told, about 16-17 riders spent the afternoon cruising around Nashville on bikes, eating pizza, and spent roughly $250 on fuel. (Well, pizza IS fuel for bike riders!) Hungry bike riders are better for business because we eat more, we don’t take up a lot of parking spaces, and we’re not constantly cruising around the block looking for parking.
We wrapped up the ride with various riders splitting off to go home and cheerful waves to see each other next time. Several other ride ideas have surfaced – hot chocolate ride in colder weather; taco ride; maybe an all-day century sometime in the spring? It’s fun to ride in a casual group around Nashville and I’m thankful for the folks who came and made it possible.