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.
photo credit: elle colquitt