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Tag: zyp bikeshare

Welcome to Birmingham!

            We’re so excited you decided on Birmingham for your new home. This city we love has so much to offer from food to the great outdoors. We know it’s not easy being in a new city so we’ve pulled together a guide of our favorite local spots. Enjoy!

Food

Highlands Bar & Grill

Recently named “Most Outstanding Restaurant in America,” this is an iconic Birmingham spot. Don’t forget to try the award winning coconut cake while you’re there!

Chez FonFon

Another charming Frank Stitt spot. Slightly more relaxed atmosphere and excellent French inspired cuisine.

Hot and Hot Fish Club

Classic Birmingham. We recommend sitting at the chef’s table for the full experience.

Jack Browns

Although Birmingham has some outstanding burgers, Jack Browns is arguably one of the best. The extensive beer offering, secret sauce and outrageous burger selections (try one with mac and cheese or peanut butter) make this spot unlike any other.

Fancy’s on 5th

Another great spot to grab an out-of-the-ordinary burger, or oysters. Fancy’s often has live music on the patio and a creative cocktail menu that never disappoints.

El Barrio

The best Mexican food in town. Try their seasonal guacamole and margarita for a real taste of something different!

Bamboo on 2nd

Right across the street from El Barrio, downtown. You won’t find more delicious sushi!

The Essential

This charming new spot on Morris Ave is known for their homemade pop tarts but don’t miss out on their lunch and dinner menus!

Bottega

Dine on the casual side, formal side or al fresco. Bottega is a classic Highland Park spot with a little something for everyone.

Hotbox

A unique dinning experience – don’t let the airstream and low key atmosphere fool you, this food is no joke

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Drinks

Breweries

The Bham beer scene is pretty strong. Head to Good People before a Barons game, take your dog to Avondale or try out the new Back Forty. Did we mention Trim Tab, Cahaba, Ghost Train and Red Hills? Explore multiple stops in one afternoon when you book a Pedal Tour.

The Collins Bar

Let these mixologists create the cocktail you never knew existed and play a few board games while you wait. This is a great spot to grab a drink after work.

The Atomic

Take a time machine back to the 1960’s at this downtown bar. You can even choose a costume off the costume menu. It’s a unique cocktail experience to say the least.

Brat Brot

Birmingham’s first German biergarten. The indoor/outdoor space is uniquely charming and offers bocce and fire pits. Enjoy both German and local beers as well as German food selections.

Lou’s

It might not look like much but you’ll feel right at home with the friendly and knowledgeable staff. Don’t forget to play a round of Yahtzi for a chance to win some cash!

Marble Ring/Zeldas

Birmingham’s 1920’s speakeasy experience. Enter through a phone booth in Hot Diggity Dog’s and enjoy a throwback to the flapper era. Now you can enjoy a glitter themed dance floor out on the patio at Zeldas!

Moon shine

This rooftop bar can be found at the top of The Elyton Hotel. Comfortable seating and great view make this is laid back spot to catch up with friends.

Pilcrow

Coming soon to Morris Ave, we can’t wait to try out this Mezcal speakeasy! A first for Birmingham!

Music & Entertainment

Iron City

This restaurant and event space doubles as a concert venue and when they’re not hosting live music, they’re offering family friendly events, sports viewing parties and more.

Saturn

Coffee shop, bar, concert venue and all around entertainment center thanks to their selection of board and video games. There’s constantly something fun going on here.

Alabama Theatre

This Birmingham landmark offers plays, concerts, and even movie nights! Catch a different Christmas movie every night of the week during December!

Lyric Theatre

The oldest theatre in Birmingham has been restored and is used for concerts, ballets and entertainment of all kinds!

Outdoors

Rufner Mountain

Get some fresh air and hike the beautiful trails of this nature preserve. You can also enjoy family and community events a couple times a month at the nature center.

Railroad Park

This 8-block green space in the heart of the city is a great place to spend time outdoors. Enjoy free exercise classes, summer concerts and ice skating in the winter.

Vulcan Trail

This two mile trail has been recently expanded and leads straight to The Vulcan and Vulcan museum.

Zyp Bikes

The easiest and most affordable way to get around the downtown area. You can rent a Zyp bike at one location and return it to another.

Rotary Trail

A nod to Birmingham’s history, this is a great place in the city to take a stroll!

Bham Events: Epic City Rush

epic city rush

 

Zyp BikeShare exists in part to ease day-to-day reliance on cars, but its bikes are also the ultimate way to explore the city. Especially this Saturday, during Zyp’s Epic City Rush. Whether you sign up for the rush of competition, the thrill of civic pride, or the real possibility of winning cash money for loving your city, we think their urban scavenger hunt is the event this weekend.

“This really will be a one-of-a-kind event in downtown Birmingham,” said Michael Symes, Zyp’s sales & marketing coordinator. “Create a team of 4 with friends, co-workers, neighbors and enjoy a day filled with adrenaline, excitement, chaos, teamwork, and FUN while you are on a mad dash through town!”  

“The one major rule is NO DRIVING! We want you to experience the city from a first-hand perspective, and hopefully you’ll discover a new favorite spot,” he said.

Participants will have to devise a game plan for the race, Symes explained. Most clues will lead to spots on the north side, though there may be some scattered closer to the Railroad Park start line.

“It’s all about strategy. Do you run to the furthest location and work your way backwards, do you make a loop around the city, or do you hit all the closest landmarks and make a straight line mad dash to the finish at the end?” Symes said.

There’s a $10,000 prize waiting for the winning team, but Symes said there will also be “instant rewards” teams can earn along the way. There’s even a “Most Epic Team” prize up for grabs, he said, a reward for teams who take on Zyp’s challenge to “dress up, be crazy and creative” in executing a group “theme.”

Even if you opt out of racing, you should definitely join the after party — which Symes said is open to participants and observers alike — at Good People Brewing Company. The party, which begins as soon as the first racers arrive, will include food truck vendors and “moments captured on social media” during the race, according to Symes, with awards presented at 1:30 p.m.

Registration is open through race day. If you’re not already a Zyp Member, Symes recommended getting a 24-hour membership — available for $6 through the Zyp app.

 

Bham Spotlight: The Travel Channel's Birmingham

bham

 

Birmingham’s place on the Travel Channel’s “Next 11 Great Destinations” list isn’t exactly news these days. It’s made the rounds on social media, earned a mention on AL.com, and could easily pass along as another accolade for our emerging city. But we can’t help thinking about what the Travel Channel left out of its Birmingham mention. Baseball, craft beer, Highlands, and the Lyric are worthy mentions, all, but we’re not sure that’s a true distillation of the new Birmingham spirit. So we’ve crafted our own mini travel guide to our fair city, partly to help us convince more far-flung friends to visit but also as a meditation on the things we’re doing right as we start a new year.

 

Affordable Food Adventures

Admittedly, the Travel Channel got it partly right. We maintain that the single greatest reason to visit (or live in) Birmingham is the food. But name checking only Frank Stitt’s Highlands Bar & Grill would be roughly akin to collapsing New Orleans cuisine into John Besh’s August. Everyone should go to Highlands at some point, because it really is that good, and the service that spectacular. But what makes Birmingham food magical is the sheer volume of affordable quality. You don’t have to choose between fine dining and a hole-in-the-wall. There’s a tremendous richness in between.

It would be hard to underestimate Stitt’s impact on local food culture, but John Hall’s story of earning New York culinary bona fires only to return home to Avondale is a more of-the-moment story. Or Hotbox, Avondale’s airstream trailer restaurant that’s earned a mention on Gear Patrol’s list of “The 25 Best New Restaurants in America.” The problem with traveling for Birmingham food, after all, is mostly one of narrowing down your choices. Vague “culinary scene” references simply don’t do Birmingham food justice.

 

Enduring History

Birmingham’s ability to bookend the spectrum of baseball facilities is impressive, but when it comes to historic resources, Rickwood Field barely scratches the surface. And you can’t talk Birmingham history — or Rickwood field, for that matter — without addressing the city’s more lasting legacy of civil rights struggle. While visitors check out Regions Field, they really shouldn’t miss the area’s new Negro Southern League Museum.

A visit downtown would hardly be complete without a stop at the Civil Rights Institute and the chilling police dog sculptures of Kelly Ingram Park. But one of our favorite historical resources is the series of Civil Rights Heritage Trails downtown, a literal (and free) walking tour of the places history happened.

 

Revitalization culture

We’ve heard it said that Birmingham’s secret blessing was the lack of an Atlanta- or Charlotte-style late-twentieth century boom. A lack of big investment money meant fewer historic buildings razed for sharp designs in 80s glass, and the result is an enviable number of intact historic buildings. But what makes Birmingham interesting right now are the things happening in those old buildings — the marriage of modern design ideas and historic spaces, the transition of downtown from a purely commercial space to a thriving live/work loft district.

There’s a very real combination of the past and the present clustered in downtown that makes for a remarkably visitor-friendly experience. Even the exciting neighborhoods outside downtown proper — Avondale, for instance — are an easy Zyp ride away or a cheap Uber fare. Then there’s Parkside, the whole new neighborhood spawned from almost nothing, until a forgotten space became an award-winning urban park, and a swanky new ballpark brought baseball back to Birmingham. And it’s no accident that some of Birmingham’s biggest cultural events worth traveling for — Sidewalk Film Festival and Sloss Fest — are both housed in some of the city’s greatest building icons.

 

Bham Development: Zyp Bikeshare

Image via Zyp BikeShare

 

“During its first week, [Zyp bikeshare] saw more than 3,300 checkouts and about 2,500 miles traveled,” reported AL.com. And while the highest concentration of users were on Saturday afternoons, Zyp Director Lindsey West told AL.com she was also seeing folks use Zyp as an alternative to cars for short daytime trips around downtown. “It’s fun to see the culture shift happening so soon,” she told the site. We’ve talked about bike culture in Birmingham before, and we contacted West to find out more about how Zyp is influencing biking in Birmingham.

As of noon on November 4th — roughly three weeks into Zyp operations — the bikes had traveled 5,969 miles over 7,374 rides, according to West. Forty-five percent of Zyp rides happened Monday through Friday, and most of those trips occurred between 10:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., “so during work hours,” West said.

West also pointed to ridership patterns that show up simply from stations used. “Usually  if it’s Railroad Park it’s probably more recreational,” she said. “If it’s 20th and Fifth that lends more toward grabbing coffee or going to a meeting.” Likewise, the 23rd Street and 2nd Avenue stop “lends to the restaurants, nightlife and all the lofts.”

As for who’s doing the riding — characteristics of annual versus casual members, for instance — that information is simply not available yet. West said Zyp planned to get demographic and usage information during surveys next summer. Giving the system some time to establish itself before conducting surveys has been the strategy for other bikeshare programs, she said. But she did point out that at $75, a Zyp annual membership “is the cheapest form of transportation in our city right now.”

But of course, the value of that membership depends on how well a bike commute works in our city. Unfortunately, West said, “it’s a chicken and egg conversation: bike infrastructure versus bike culture.”  Bikeshare organizations warned against waiting for infrastructure progress and leading with bikeshares instead, she said. Otherwise, they warned, Zyp could lose years hoping for ideal conditions.

Beyond getting people riding, the bikeshare program is useful in reframing the conversation around bike infrastructure for the city, West explained. “You can feel the culture shift, but now we can track it and see it with real data,” she said. “That’s been a large barrier for how cities set priorities.”

The Zyp system records data on travel routes for each bike, though West is quick to point out that it’s not storing travel patterns for individual riders. Knowing not only the neighborhoods but the actual paths people are taking, she said, will help create “really thought out, well-designed infrastructure that people will use, and that’s really the goal.”

In the meantime, Zyp is designed to make biking as easy as possible for as many folks as possible, West said. The pedelec system Zyp installed — which offers an electric boost for riders — should help everyone navigate Birmingham’s sometimes challenging landscape, she said. West, who maintains a Zyp commute these days, told us she recently turned heads cruising over a downtown viaduct with ease. So if you’re worried that you can’t bike without stalling traffic, Zyp is the system you want to try.

To find out more about membership, check out our instagram interview with Zyp Sales and Marketing Coordinator Michael Symes.

Bham Development: Creating a Bike Culture

bike

Birmingham does not have the most bike-friendly reputation. Dedicated lanes are basically non-existent, and as drivers we’re still learning how to share the road. But if the explosion in bike culture options in recent months is any indication, things are changing quickly. Two recent business startups ⏤ Parkside’s Wheel City Rentals and Woodlawn’s Cycle Cafe ⏤ highlight the potential for bikes in our urban leisure culture.

Wheel City Rentals offers ridiculously adorable vintage-style bikes in cruiser, tandem, or “Adult tricycle” configurations, available by the hour or the day. Operating out of Railroad Park, their location should be even more attractive once the Rotary Trail is ready, allowing renters a lovely and almost car-free ride all the way to Pepper Place.

Even now, though, the Loft District offers a relatively easy bike experience over less congested weekends, and the Wheel City website suggests downtown as a destination for independent renters. For folks less interested in solo cycling, Wheel City also offers tour options, using either cruisers or a 14-seat “party bike.” It looks unwieldy, but the novelty of a party bike is hard to resist. Either option seems like a good fit with the young, active Parkside branding.

Cycle Cafe has yet to open, but the Birmingham Design Review Committee gave owners the go-ahead in August, reported AL.com. The cafe will be a combination of coffee shop and cycling community hangout, according to AL.com, with co-owner Armand Margjeka telling the site he envisioned hosting screenings of the Tour de France. REV Birmingham will be the cafe’s landlord, AL.com reported, which seems like a nice tie-in with its imminent Zyp BikeShare launch, as well as the millenial-friendly work/event spaces at neighboring SocialVenture.

And of course, Zyp itself is the big debut we’re still waiting for. Will the coming years be the tipping point for widespread biking in Birmingham? We can only hope so. After all, Woodlawn’s business district is less than 4 miles of relatively level terrain from our Loft District offices. If we can make bike commuting popular enough that motorists have to adjust, Birmingham residents could pretty easily ride between some of our most popular urban areas.

Community rides like the Tour de Ham and Redemptive Cycle’s Trample have worked hard to make bike riding broadly accessible. If Zyp can successfully inject the REV Birmingham momentum into local bike culture ⏤ and lead the charge for more bike-safe traffic patterns ⏤ we might just see a local cycling revolution.