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 matt@bikewalktn.org 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 matt@bikewalktn.org 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.


Bike Walk Tennessee Hires Executive Director


Bike Walk Tennessee announces the hiring of Matt Farr as the organization’s first Executive Director. Founded in 2009, Bike Walk Tennessee is a 501(c)3 organization that advocates for better bicycling and walking in Tennessee. Relying on volunteer capacity, Bike Walk Tennessee has facilitated a jump in Tennessee’s Bicycle-Friendly State ranking from 43rd to 20th over the past five years, and has ushered a widespread resurgence in biking and walking throughout Tennessee’s urban areas.  With dedicated staff capacity, Bike Walk Tennessee expects to be able to propel Tennessee into the national spotlight for innovative bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure and programming.

Matt Farr is a Memphis native, a graduate of Sewanee: The University of the South, and currently resides in Nashville. He has a strong background in community outreach, fundraising, and program development gleaned from his positions as Development Manager with the Shelby Farms Park Conservancy in Memphis and Associate Director of Philanthropy with The Nature Conservancy in Nashville.

 “It is such an honor to lead Bike Walk Tennessee,” said Farr. “Through the hard work and dedication of volunteer advocates who care deeply about their communities and state, Tennessee is positioned to be a national leader for active transportation. It is my goal to build upon the momentum they have created and work toward a statewide realization of the economic, social, health and environmental benefits that bicycling and walking have been proven to provide.”

Bike Walk Tennessee President Anthony Siracusa says Farr is uniquely equipped to build on recent momentum.  “Matt is a natural relationship builder.  He has been very successful in strengthening local advocates by connecting them to statewide work, and this exceptional leadership will – combined with his extensive experience in program development – help Bike Walk Tennessee to grow the number of people who walk and bike in our state.”

“Tennessee has made significant advances in providing more transportation choices over the past few years and we are thrilled to see Bike Walk Tennessee take this big step,” said Jessica Wilson, Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator for the Tennessee Department of Transportation. “Bike Walk Tennessee is a valued partner and we look forward to working with Matt to make our communities across Tennessee safer for people who walk and bike”

 Bike Walk Tennessee is currently undertaking multiple initiatives across the state that seek to enhance opportunities to enjoy Tennessee by bicycle or on foot. They are pioneering the U.S. Bike Route System in Tennessee, which will create designated routes between Tennessee’s cities and cities across the Southeast. They are working with small and medium sized communities to educate planners and engineers about the benefits of Complete Streets policies and practices. And they are bringing advocates and supporters across the state together with the annual Tennessee Bike Summit, now in its fifth year.

If you would like any information about Bike Walk TN, please feel free to email Matt at matt@bikewalktn.org.