Marvin Stockwell started riding his bike to work about six weeks ago.
"That was after a year of thinking about it," he said. "I would see my buddy [bicycle advocate] Anthony Siracusa ride his bike everywhere."
It was just in time to get the jump on National Bike-to-Work Week. Today's Bike-to-Work Day dawned sort of cloudy and overcast, perfect weather for a group of seasoned and inexperienced riders to bike downtown, where the Center City Commission had "energizer stations" on North Main, South Main, and in the Medical Center District.
Dawn Vinson is the project manager for Downtown Bike to Work Week. The Hickory Hill resident often rides her bike to do casual errands.
"We were sitting around one day and we thought, how can we get more people to ride their bikes?" she said. "How could we make it safe and fun?"
In addition to the energizer stations, the CCC organized group rides into downtown, as well as practice rides in the days leading up to Bike to Work Day.
"It can be stressful to ride with traffic if you're not confident in your skills. I prefer neighborhood streets with lower speeds. I'm must not ready to ride down Poplar Avenue," Vinson said. "We organized the meet-ups for those not confident in their riding skills or who don't want to do it by themselves or don't know how to choose a route."
Peddler repair manager Bobby Singley met-up with about six other cyclists at Eastgate Shopping Center this morning, and the group joked about how it's good to ride with a mechanic.
Singley rides his bike every where he goes.
"It's a great way to start the day," Singley said. "It wakes you up and you see so many things. Most people don't realize how nice it is going past the Wonderbread Factory."
Already it seems, the event was a success. More than 100 people registered with the CCC to ride their bikes to work, a number that quadrupled their initial estimate.
"We'd just like for peopel to get on their bikes," Vinson said. "You don't have to be on it every single day or give up your car in all kinds of weather. But if you just did it when it was convenient — errands in a two-mile radius — that would have such a significant impact. I'm not just talking on the environment, but on health and temperament, as well."
Andy Ashby with the Memphis Business Journal says he rides about once a week. He has ridden to work before but doesn't do it often.
"I might not have ridden in today otherwise, because there was a 20 percent chance of rain," Ashby said, "but I thought it was fun with all the people doing it."
County Commissioner Steve Mulroy rode his bike from home to the Healthy Breakfast station at Church Health Center Wellness. More of a runner, Mulroy says he rides recreationally with his family.
"More people need to bike to work, and I need to be an example," he said. "I also need a shower."
When the law school was on the U of M's main campus, Mulroy did ride his bike to work, but since the law school moved downtown, he hasn't.
"What Memphis needs is bike lanes on a few of the main east/west thoroughfares," he said. "People are skeptical but I think if they try it, they'll find that it's fun."
Stockwell says that when you bike to work you don't need to wake up when you get there; you show up already in gear. So to speak.
"I feel like today is part of a larger cultural shift," Stockwell said. "Memphis will only become a bike-friendly city when people demand it."
As part of the event, the Center City Commission gave out messenger bags to registered participants.
And Steven Sondheim will be selling these t-shirts for $10 at the Court Square event today from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Oh, wait, here's the back. The three-feet law, by the way, says that motorists have to say three feet away from cyclists.
If you can't make it to the event, but you still want a t-shirt, Steven says you can call him at 761-1793.