Gas Tax Moves Forward, Bike to Work Month Kicks off, Countdown to TN Bike Summit

Hello, Spring! May is a busy month for biking and walking in Tennessee! Here are a few highlights and updates on happenings, policies, and news out around the state and beyond.
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UT Knoxville Survey: Tennessee Voters Support Increased Spending on Biking and Walking Infrastructure




Anthony Siracusa  




Andrew Dupuy     



Tennessee Voters Support Increased Spending on Biking and Walking Infrastructure

University of Tennessee survey finds majority of Tennesseans value biking and walking infrastructure as investments in safety


NASHVILLE—As the Tennessee General Assembly convenes its session next week, it is widely expected to consider proposals by Gov. Bill Haslam to increase transportation revenue in the state. A new survey, conducted by a center within the Social Work Office of Research & Public Service at The University of Tennessee at Knoxville (UT Knoxville), finds that Tennesseans support greater investments in biking and walking infrastructure as well as funding for multimodal transportation—highways, roads, bridges, trails, sidewalks, bike lanes and public transit. Tennessee voters also believe decision-making about transportation spending should occur at the local level.


“This survey shows that Tennesseans want more biking and walking opportunities in their communities,” said John Paul Shaffer, board chairman of Bike Walk Tennessee. “Voters believe that more sidewalks, separated bike lanes and off-street trails can make a difference in the safety and quality of transportation options for everyone in the state, regardless of whether they live in urban, suburban or rural communities.”


Support for biking and walking infrastructure isn’t limited to large urban areas. A majority of respondents in small towns and rural non-farm areas indicated there were “too few” on-street bike lanes, walking and biking paths, and off-street trails in their communities. Support for spending any revenue increase on multimodal forms of transportation was highest in small cities (64.1 percent), followed by towns and large cities (58.7 percent each), rural non-farm areas (53.6 percent) and small towns (50.4 percent).


“Tennesseans from Memphis to my Dutch Valley farm in East Tennessee’s Anderson County want safer, better transportation options for themselves and their children to walk, bike and get around,” said Marianne Wesley Fowler, senior strategist for policy advocacy at Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. “But they also want the ability to make decisions locally about the transportation options that work best for their communities.”


Safety and local control were important considerations for Tennesseans. Nearly two-thirds (66.2 percent) of registered voters indicated that adding a separated bike lane would improve safety for both vehicles and bikes. Respondents—including Republicans and those from communities of all sizes—would also be more likely to support a gas tax increase (43 percent) if decisions about how to spend it were made at the local level.


Bike Walk Tennessee and Rails-to-Trails Conservancy commissioned the Center for Applied Research and Evaluation in the Social Work Office of Research & Public Service at UT Knoxville to conduct a survey of 762 registered Tennessee voters in October 2016. Surveys—completed using landline sampling, cell phone sampling and a web panel—resulted in a margin of error +/- 3.6 percent at a 95 percent confidence level. A summary of survey findings may be viewed here.


Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC), a nonprofit organization with more than 160,000 members and supporters, is the nation's largest trails organization dedicated to connecting people and communities by creating a nationwide network of public trails, many from former rail lines and connecting corridors. Founded in 1986, RTC’s national office is located in Washington, D.C., with regional offices in California, Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania. For more information, visit


Bike Walk Tennessee is a nonprofit organization committed to making Tennessee a great place for people who walk or bike. Founded in 2009, Bike Walk Tennessee advocates for policies and infrastructure that enhance the safety of roads and trails across the state. Bike Walk Tennessee believes that biking and walking create vibrant, healthy communities that contribute to economic development and quality of life. For more information, visit




UT Study: Tennesseans Want Investments in Walking and Biking

With a gas tax increase among the most important topics for the 2017 Tennessee legislature, a new study from UT Knoxville shows that a majority of Tennesseans want more investment in biking and walking. 

According to a poll conducted by the Social Work Office of Research and Public Service at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, if the gas tax is increased, 57% of Tennesseans support increased funding for biking, walking, and transit.

A majority of registered voters also believe that investments in walking and biking infrastructure are investments in safety.  

And finally, Tennesseans said they are more likely to support a gas tax increase if local governments retain control over how to spend this money.

This groundbreaking study from UT Knoxville shows definitively that Tennesseans want their transportation network to include more trails, more sidewalks, and more bike lanes.



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Call for Proposals || TN Bike Summit



TN Bike Summit 

May 18 - 20, 2017

Memphis, TN

Building Better Communities: 
Policy, Advocacy, and Youth Initiatives

Bike Walk Tennessee is thrilled to issue a call for speakers at the 2017 TN Bike Summit in Memphis.

Bike Walk TN gladly welcomes proposals under other topics, but proposals addressing the following topics will be strongly considered:

Community, Advocacy, and Organizing

•  What strategies do you use to organize people who walk and bike in your city or town?  Group Bike Rides? Open Streets? Tactical Urbanism? Digital and social media campaigns?  How do you organize and mobilize people who walk and bike?  What has worked? What hasn’t worked?

• What kind of citywide Encouragement Programs are you involved with (Ride to Dinner, Tour de Lights, Bike Share)?

• Do you actively collaborate with other public and private sectors or local movements - in health, housing, or food access for example?  How have these connections aided your work to promote biking and walking 

• Presentations from retail bike shops, retail running shops, and other retailers working to encourage more people to walk, run, or bike are also strongly encouraged 

Policy, Planning, and Government

• Presentation from MPOs, TPOs, and local government administrators about their efforts to promote and evaluate walking and biking are strongly encouraged

• Presentations from State Administrators about current efforts to promote and evaluate walking and biking are strongly encouraged

• Presentations from private planning firms about excellence in developing and executing walking and biking projects are strongly encouraged 

Community Bike Shops and Youth Initiatives

• Presentation from community bike shops about their programs and efforts are strongly encouraged

• Presentations from schools and educators about how they promote walking and biking are strongly encouraged

• Initiatives by Church Youth Groups, Boy Scout Troops, Girls and Boys clubs, and other religious and civic groups to promote walking and biking and also strongly encouraged

Please submit proposals - 300 words or less including a title and other possible presenters - to Anthony Siracusa ( by Friday, January 27, 2017.   Selected proposals will be announced by Wednesday, February 1. Summit registration fees will be waived for all presenters.

(Follow this link to download full CFP)

See you in Memphis! 



Give the Gift of Safer Streets

2016 was a great year for walking and biking in Tennessee.  

With your help, Bike Walk Tennessee protected funding for walking and biking projects in communities from Memphis to Johnson City.  

The fifth annual Tennessee Bike Summit in Chattanooga was a huge success, and we look forward to a return to Memphis in May.  

Our partners at Bike Walk KnoxvilleBike Walk Chattanooga, and Bike Walk Memphis were joined by new partners in Bike Walk Murfreesboro and Bike Walk Brentwood. Our network of advocates across the state continues to grow.  

We advanced the US Bike Route System in Tennessee, and will certify US Bike Route 21 in the Spring of 2017.

With transportation funding among the most important topics in 2017, Bike Walk Tennessee has more opportunities than ever before.

A gift to Bike Walk Tennessee will go directly to the movement for great streets in cities and towns statewide - a movement for communities that invite people to walk and bike and encourages economic development and prosperity for all.

This holiday season, consider the gift of safer streets in Tennessee.

And remember: it's your support that keeps us moving.

Wishing you the happiest of holiday seasons, and sending joy for the new year,
Anthony C. Siracusa 
Bike Walk Tennessee





2016 TN Bike Summit Call for Speakers

TN Bike Summit
April 22-23, 2016
Chattanooga, TN


We are now accepting speaker proposals for the 2016 TN Bike Summit in Chattanooga!

The TN Bike Summit attracts a unique mix of participants from local government, bicycle advocacy, bicycle retailers, and a wide variety of partners in health, environment, and transportation.

The purpose of the TN Bike Summit is to:

• educate and facilitate collaboration among attendees
• promote bicycling as a key part of a healthy transportation network and an economic driver
• highlight Tennessee’s progress toward becoming a bicycle friendly state


Proposals are being accepted under three headings, with suggested topics under each:

Public Health

• How the Built Environment Impacts Health
• Measuring Health Outcomes of Bicycle Facilities
• Bridging the Gap: Funding for Health and Transportation


Bicycle Tourism/Economic Development
• Economic Benefits of Bicycling
• U.S. Bicycle Route System: Route Selection, Outreach, and Designation
• Building a Regional Vision for Bicycle Tourism


Infrastructure and Policy
• New Practices in Bicycle Facility Design
• Road Diets and Intersection Improvements
• Interim Solutions & Tactical Urbanism
• Planning and Building Great Trails


Note: Your proposal does not have to fit precisely into one of the topic areas. We would like to see proposals focusing on a variety of communities, urban, suburban, and rural, so that all participants’ issues are addressed.  


Format Options

Each format will be a one-hour block with time for questions and moving to the next session. Blocks may be combined into longer sessions if requested.

• Presentation – 45 minutes (interactivity encouraged)
• Panel Presentation – 15-20 minutes (these will be grouped by theme)
• Mobile/Hands-on Workshops – 45-90 minutes (offsite is possible)


Submitting a Proposal

Please submit proposals to Matt Farr at by Monday, February 29. Selected proposals will be announced by March 7. Summit registration fees will be waived for all presenters.


U.S. Bicycle Route 21, 121, and 121A

USBR Corridor Plan



Comment Period for USBR 21, 121, and 121A NOW OPEN!


Over the past six months, we've been working with dozens of bike clubs, ride leaders, cycling enthusiasts, and transportation officials to scout U.S. Bicycle Routes 21 and 121. With this input, we have created a series of proposed routes and would now like for your help in determining if they are the most suitable options of official USBR designation. 

Selecting the best route is no easy task. There is a set of criteria that we look for in selecting a route, which you can find here. Take a second to review these criteria, and then have a look at the proposed routes, which we have linked below. If you are familiar with these roads, or know of a potentially better alternative, please get in touch with Matt Farr at with your feedback and suggestions. We intend to keep this comment period open through November 1, at which point we will be working with local jurisdictions to secure the required sign-offs. Our goal is to work with TDOT to submit finalized routes in Spring 2016 for official USBR designation.

USBR 21 runs north-south and connects Kentucky to Georgia through Knoxville and Chattanooga. Paralleling the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, this route is scenic and has the potential to attract touring cyclists from around the world. Please find a proposed route for USBR 21 at this link.

USBR 121 connects Chattanooga to Nashville via South Pittsburg, Sewanee, Cowan, Tullahoma, Bell Buckle, and Murfreesboro. We are also proposing an alternate route, which you can find below. We have selected this as the primary route due to the higher frequency of amenities available. You can find the proposed route for USBR 121 at this link.

USBR 121A also connects Chattanooga to Nashville, but splits off of the primary route mentioned above at Sewanee and passes through Monteagle, Tracy City, and Manchester on the east side of Interstate 24 before reconnecting with the primary route in Bell Buckle. You can find the proposed route for USBR 121A at this link.

Please remit any comments, feedback, or suggestions to before November 1st. Your input is valuable and appreciated. Thank you so much for your help as we work to make Tennessee a premier destination for touring cyclists.



The U.S. Bicycle Route System in Tennessee



Developed by the Adventure Cycling Association, the U.S. Bicycle Route System is a nationwide network of carefully selected designated routes for touring cyclists. Most of these routes are on existing roadways, and oftentimes the only initial infrastructure expense is wayfinding signage.


The National Corridor Plan lays out proposed corridors for creating a nationwide network. In the map above, the darker routes are officially designated. The other shaded routes are corridors--ideas for where a route could exist, but are not officially designated. As you can see, Tennessee is major hub for this proposed network with five route intersections. Few states in the nation have this many intersections, and few routes in the Southeast are officially designated--Tennessee has an opportunity to be a national leader for the development of this system.

Official designation entails scouting the route—a process that involves talking to local cyclists, inspecting road conditions and cataloguing water stops and other amenities. Another important and time-intensive component is developing relationships with local stakeholders and seeking their buy-in. Once a route has been vetted, it is submitted to TDOT. TDOT then officially applies for federal designation with the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO). We then work together to secure funding for signage. Promoting the route is another vital step to ensure the success of it and future routes.

Adventure Cycling maintains an online collection of studies and resources related to the economic impact of bicycle tourism. It is thorough and representative of case studies from many states. States that have designated U.S. Bicycle Routes and Scenic Bikeways are reporting an economic impact of $400 million from bicycle tourism.

Tennessee has an ideal climate for cycling. Tennessee offers unparalleled outdoor experiences: from the lowland cypress swamps in the west, to the rolling hills of Middle Tennessee, to the Great Smoky Mountains in the east--a diversity of unique experiences enjoyed by bicycle. And a vast assortment of iconic cultural attractions provides a particular draw that people can't get anywhere else. Given the state’s centralized geographic location—a couple of days ride to access eight other states—Tennessee has enormous potential as an international destination for bicycle tourism. Developing a high quality U.S. Bicycle Route and Scenic Bikeways network in Tennessee would be a very low-cost, high-return endeavor.

In our next blog, we’ll dive further into Scenic Bikeways and the implications and opportunities for a U.S. Bicycle Route and Scenic Bikeways network in Tennessee. Sign up for our email list or follow us on Facebook or Twitter to join the conversation.  


Three Grand Divisions, One Grand Vision: U.S. Bicycle Routes and Scenic Bikeways in Tennessee

Cities across Tennessee have seen significant growth in biking and walking over the past five years. Since the founding of Bike Walk Tennessee in 2009, Tennessee has climbed from 43rd to 20th in bicycle friendliness. Tennessee’s cities are investing unprecedented dollars in sidewalks and dedicated infrastructure. Indeed, biking and walking are becoming rapidly integrated into the lives of Tennessee’s urban and suburban residents.

But what about the places between the big cities? Tennessee is a big state, and millions of Tennesseans don’t live in Nashville, Memphis, Knoxville, or Chattanooga. What does bicycle and pedestrian advocacy mean for these communities?

There are many advantages that come to small and medium sized communities that embrace biking and walking. It’s a mode of transportation and recreation that operates at the same pace as a small-town lifestyle. It’s personable. It’s respectful and complimentary to the outdoors. It’s a shrewd investment that is the definition of a self-reliant, resourceful way of life.

Biking and walking are central components to economic development, transportation, public health, and quality of life initiatives in towns across Tennessee, and already have modest support across various divisions of state government.

The U.S. Bicycle Route System and Tennessee Scenic Bikeways program weaves many of these state-funded initiatives together, connects capital between towns across the state, and sets a statewide vision for an interconnected bicycle network.

Over the next 6 weeks, we’ll be blogging a series entitled Three Grand Divisions, One Grand Vision: U.S. Bicycle Routes and Scenic Bikeways in Tennessee. We’ll share the process for selecting, formalizing, and promoting routes across Tennessee’s three Grand Divisions: West Tennessee, Middle Tennessee, and East Tennessee. We’ll seek your input and ideas for the best routes across the state. We’ll present ideas and strategies for what advocacy could look like for Tennessee’s small and medium sized communities. We’ll build something grand together.

Follow us on Facebook or Twitter and sign up for our email list to keep up with the conversation.


 photo credit: elle colquitt


Three State Three Mountain Challenge Benefits Bike Walk TN



More than 1230 cyclists and supporters from across the Southeast came together inChattanooga during the first weekend of May for the 28th Annual Three State Three MountainChallenge. Presented by the Chattanooga Bicycle Club and Rock/Creek, the Three State ThreeMountain Challenge is a bicycle race that features three courses—25 miles, 62 miles, or 100miles—and traverses Suck Creek Mountain, Sand Mountain and Lookout Mountain.


As with many rides and races, a non-profit was selected as the beneficiary of race proceeds.This year, Bike Walk Tennessee was selected as the beneficiary of the Three State ThreeMountain Challenge.


Bike Walk Tennessee was founded in 2009 and works as a statewide advocate for bicycling andwalking. Bike Walk Tennessee advocates for laws and infrastructure that protects cyclists andpedestrians, serves as a the fiscal agent for local groups like Bike Walk Chattanooga and BikeWalk Knoxville and leads statewide initiatives like the development of the U.S. Bicycle Routenetwork across the state.


"Bike Walk Tennessee is thrilled to accept this donation from the participants and partners of theThree State Three Mountain Challenge," said Matt Farr, Executive Director of Bike WalkTennessee. "Chattanooga is setting a high bar for cycling in Tennessee and the Southeast, andthis funding will be used to make cycling in Chattanooga even stronger by supporting thedevelopment of U.S. Bike Routes and Scenic Bikeways in the Greater Chattanooga area.”


About half of the money was raised when Rock/Creek and RootsRated teamed up to host a pintnight on the Friday before the event. These popular events ask for a donation in return for alimited-edition pint with sponsor logos. “Thanks to RootsRated, SweetWater Brewing Company,and Chattanooga Whiskey for helping us kick off the event and raise over $700 for pedestrianand bike advocacy,” said Mark McKnight from Rock/Creek.




You can support Bike Walk Tennessee by following us on Facebook, joining the email list or making a donation.