Music City Bikeways

Amy Eskind

I bike Nashville, on greenways, on bike lanes, over sharrows (the bikes painted on the street directing cars to share the lane), through parks, and sometimes on streets with no bike provisions at all. I’m used to it, but I know it’s uncomfortable for many people to ride on high alert. So uncomfortable they won’t do it. If we are to become a more bicycle-friendly city and entice more people to ride – and I hope we do for improved public health and clean air - we must improve bike infrastructure.

A few years ago I rode the Music City Bikeway end-to-end, from Percy Warner Park to Percy Priest Dam. I was happy that the city provided the 26-mile path, and I enjoyed greenways I had never seen before and ped/cycle bridges I didn’t know existed. Riding along the river was a treat. Good for Nashville. However, I was surprised that parts of the “Bikeway” were so confusing that sometimes it was hard to tell I was on it. Parts seemed dicey, as I rode behind a building, past dumpsters and through a parking lot. Parts were not well-signed, and parts – this being Nashville – were shut down due to construction, leaving cyclists to navigate around a work area and find the trail again without the help of detour signage. The worst part was riding on the sidewalk on 1st Avenue downtown – yes, that’s part of the trail – and riding up Lower Broadway. I ended up behind a horse-and-buggy and the driver yelled to me to keep clear so I wouldn’t scare the horse. Surely the Music City Bikeway could steer cyclists away from the mayhem on Lower Broad!

I sit on the Mayor’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, so I brought this up at a meeting. A group of talented, engaged volunteers who sit on this committee, all avid cyclists, put our heads together to come up with ideas for improvement. We latched onto the idea that recreational riders and commuters would enjoy a well-signed set of buffered bike routes, delineated by color like the D.C. subway system. All of the routes would connect at a single point, and each would have a particular stated purpose. One would be a Vanderbilt/Music Row route, for example, and another the River View route. Signs would list the distance to major points of interest. The four routes defined here are intended to be an initial public offering, with more to come later. We feel that such a network, easy to navigate and safe for riders ages 8 to 80, is the ticket to increasing bike ridership in Nashville.

While the Mayor’s administration completes their WalknBike plan that will detail infrastructure priorities, we are beyond thrilled that TURBO has agreed to help us get the ball rolling with temporary signage.

If you would like to be a part of the project please contact TURBO Nashville!