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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Amendment Threatens to Eliminate Bike/Ped Funding -- Contact Your Senators Today!

Sen. Rand Paul (KY) has introduced legislation to ELIMINATE funding for biking and walking to redirect to bridge repair.  It is vital that we all let our Senators know that elimination of the already insufficient amount of funding for biking and walking is not the answer to solving our nation's bridge issues.  See below call to action from Safe Routes to School National Partnership that summarizes Sen. Paul's amendment and please click on the "contact your Senators today" links to submit a letter to our Senators.

From Safe Routes to School National Partnership:

We need your help! Please contact your Senators today so we can maintain the Transportation Alternatives program and the local control provisions that help build bikeable and walkable cities and towns.

Just last year Congress passed a new transportation bill, MAP-21, that dismantled dedicated funding for biking and walking by combining Transportation Enhancements, Safe Routes to School and Recreational Trails into one program and cutting the funding by 30%.  The saving grace was that the bill included a local control provision to ensure that Mayors and communities could access to these dollars to support local transportation priorities.

Now Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky wants to wipe out what’s left.

Senator Paul has introduced an amendment to the Transportation Appropriations bill to prohibit ANY MONEY from being used for Transportation Alternatives, and to redirect that money towards bridge repair.

While we agree that repairing our bridges are important, both for safety and economic development reasons, so are our local economies and the safety of our children. Dedicating the small amount of Transportation Alternatives funding to bridge repair couldn't fix our country's bridges in 50 years. And, taking that small amount of funding away would dangerously undermine efforts in our cities, towns and counties to provide safe and efficient transportation options for everyone, including our children. With rates of bicycling and walking fatalities on the rise, that is a trade we can’t afford to make.

Please contact your Senators and ask them to save Transportation Alternatives by voting NO on amendment 1742.

Thank you so much for your help!

Deb Hubsmith
Safe Routes to School National Partnership

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Justice Delayed and Denied in Cocke County

Dan Ford was drunk and speeding and killing. Kate Richardson died July 12, 2011 in Cocke County, Tennessee because of the choices made by Dan Ford. He pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide and will serve a grand total of two days in jail for  DUI but not for committing vehicular homicide which can carry a maximum sentence of six years. Ford is a former chair of the Cocke County Republican Party and a failed politician. Shortly after the accident his attorney attempted to blame the victim for riding her bicycle down a dark highway.

I was going to write some outraged tome on the outcome of this case but I just can’t get up the energy. The district attorney negotiated a plea bargain and Ben Cantrell, a judge from Nashville, approved this outrageous sentence. According to news reports her family approved of the settlement and the DA is defending his plea deal. I don’t know their reason but it may be they want to put the incident behind them. Obviously they have every right to respond to the case as they see fit.  The family filed a civil case for $11 million and I hope they take every penny the man owns.

Most killers of cyclists are never charged unless it’s a DUI. That happened in this case but he still gets off after 48 hours in jail. The district attorney used the excuse that she wasn’t riding on the right and she had a black back pack.

That doesn’t deserve a death sentence.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Tragedies Strike Cyclists in May

Tragedies Strike Cyclists in May
May was a tragic month for three cyclists in Tennessee.  It started at the 3 State 3 Mtn Challenge in Chattanooga during a descent from Lookout Mountain on a cold rainy day.  Antonio Jose Desousa Ribeiro, 49 of Jacksonville FL, failed to remain in his lane, crossed into the opposing lane and was struck by a motor vehicle.  On May 23rd  Jacob Billings, 14 of Smithville, TN, was making a steep descent on Casey Cove Rd and also crossed into the opposing lane and was struck by a motor vehicle.
In Knoxville, also on May 23rd, a 16 year old was trying to cross Western Ave at Sullivan Rd.  The intersection is a difficult intersection to cross, even for experienced cyclists.  Western Ave is an arterial road and there are several subdivisions on both sides of Western and Victor Ashe Park is just north of Western.  There are many reasons a young cyclist might be trying to cross Western … visit friends, go to the park etc.
Is cycling becoming more dangerous in TN?  No.  While each one is tragic, there are relatively few cycling fatalities in Tennessee each year.  The law of small numbers applies as a certain degree of randomness allows the numbers to fluctuate.  When we look at the fatality numbers, we need to remember the longevity numbers.  A National Institute of Health study published last year concludes that leisure time physical activity, for example riding a bicycle two hours a week, increases life expectancy by 3.2 years.  Do the math; riding a bicycle is more likely to increase your life than reduce it.

Was cycling safer in 2010 and more dangerous in other years?  No, it's just number randomness.  There is a positive analysis in the TN numbers as we all know there is been a significant increase in the number of riders since 2005, but the number of fatalities has remained relatively stable.  This is also true on the national level.  On the national level the trends are more evident as because of the larger numbers there is less randomness and the graph lines are smoother which indicate the trends in a more statistically valid way.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Oasis Bike Shop on CNN

Looks like fertile recruiting ground for generation after next Bike Walk Tennessee leaders.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Tennessee Bicycle Crashes Over the Years

 Another cyclist fatality  in Tennessee reminds us of the constant need for vigilance while riding on public roads. I am a member of the Bike Walk Tennessee Legislative Committee and part of our focus is to make biking safer in Tennessee. My view is that has more to do with motorists than cyclists but that’s a discussion for another day. I spend a lot of my time on my day job dealing with numbers so I decided to look at crash data from the Department of Safety and Homeland Security for “pedalcyclists” (the official designation). This is information provided to the state by local police agencies so I have to wonder about the quality and completeness but it is official. One thing that stood out is the tremendous variation from year to year and that’s what made me wonder about the data. This is for 1996 to 2010 although the 2010 numbers are not finalized and may be artificially low. I was promised that it’s being updated.  


There is an apparent downward trend especially from mid-decade.

1996 to 2000

2001 to 2004
2005 to 2009

The high was 593 in 2004 and the low (prior to 2010) was 345 in 2005 an extremely large year to year change. The average for the entire period was 445 per year. Almost 60 percent of all crashes are in the four urban counties of Tennessee.

Cyclist Fatalities in Tennessee

The number of bicycle fatalities in Tennessee is actually quite low averaging 6 a year since 2003.





I suppose we can be glad the numbers are relatively small but one death is too many. The average number of pedestrian deaths from 2009 to 2012 was 79. While it is a somewhat grisly thought as more people ride and we ride more miles the opportunity for crashes and fatalities will increase.  All the more reason to continue pushing for increased law enforcement, safety education and awareness by bicyclists, pedestrians and especially motorists.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Tennessee now rated 17th on LAB's Bike Friendly State Rankings???

League of American Bicyclists  Rankings
My first thought when reading this after just returning from a ride from Hendersonville, TN to Kingsport, TN, was, "How can this be?"  TDOT has effectively killed any realistic chance for a USBR 80 by rumbling the only unrumbled road, TN 62, to connect Wartburg to Oak Ridge.  US 70 was already rumbled and other alternates reqire many miles deviation.  TDOT was apprised of the critical nature of TN 62 several years ago but they have either forgotten, that TDOT division did not get the word, or they just don't care.

On further reflection, I must admit that Tennessee's major cities have all made significant progress. That is where most people cycle. One more reminder of how marginalized is the touring cyclist.  Andy Clark, League President, had a reply to several howls of protest in the comments section. It further clarifies the process and admits that all states have a long way to go.  My current thought is that the rankings are about right and Jessica Wilson deserves our thanks.

One more reminder of how important is our state wide advocacy.

Below are Andy Clark's remarks. Note, he will be at the TN bike summit. A chance for some of us to give him a  piece of our mind. Just kidding, Andy.

Monday, April 29, 2013

New Sheriff in Town

President Obama has nominated Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx for Secretary of Transportation replacing Ray LaHood who is great on cycling issues. It appears that Foxx is pretty good on alternative transportation, Charlotte does have  a bike share program,  but we’ll certainly find out more in the days ahead.

 After the fight over Map-21 the issues facing the transportation infrastructure in this country were kicked down the road (pun intended) rather than leading to any realistic plan. The issues with transportation funding are just as critical because the road use taxes, i.e. the gas tax, does not and will not fund future needs. Congressman Mica’s plan to cut transportation funding to the level of use tax revenues wasn’t accepted by anyone and it probably won’t have much traction in the future. The political climate in Washington isn’t good for any kind of long term planning and I’ll bet Map-21 will just be extended for years as was the previous transportation legislation. Advocates for walking and biking will continue to work for increased alternatives whatever the climate for change.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Lincoln Memorial University (LMU) First Bicycle Friendly University in Tennessee

April 23, 2013 - Harrogate, Tennessee — Lincoln Memorial University (LMU) became the first college or university in the State of Tennessee to be recognized as a Bicycle Friendly University (BFU) by the League of American Bicyclists. The organization made the announcement on Tuesday.

Read more here!  

Monday, April 1, 2013

Memorial Ride for Stacy Floyd

Stacy Floyd was killed last year in Coffee County while riding with his family. There was no prosecution in the case. A memorial ride is being held April 20 in Manchester. You can register here.

The story was posted last year to the Every Bicyclist Counts web site of the League of American Bicylists.

The Jeff Roth Cycling Foundation is helping to publicize the ride.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

We Are Traffic!

While catching up on the podcasts from The Outspoken Cyclist I heard an interview with Dan Guitierrez from  i am traffic.  

 Check out the website because they talk about the "sixth e" of biking advocacy which is equality.   They have a US map showing the states that have bike equality.  No surprise that Tennessee is in the majority but only two states have bike equality. One is Arkansas!  The other is North Carolina! How did that happen?

Tennessee is listed as unequal because of laws that

1.  Limit  riding to two abreast
2.  Require riding far to the right
3.  Allows discriminatory local laws

This list gives an idea of their point of view. I never thought of a limit on riding more than two abreast as discriminatory. Riding far to the right just seems second nature but automobiles aren't required to stay to the right.  I haven't reviewed the entire web site but it's a different POV.  Sort of John Forrester I guess.

What do you think?

PS. I highly recommend The Outspoken Cyclist it is a great show.  They cover lots of topics and the host is a bike shop owner with an  interest in all types of cycling.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

AAA pro cycling PSA

While reading the Alliance report on the National Bike Summit this great little PSA popped out to me. It says something when that bastion of automobile supremacy gives us a nod.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

LAB Call to Action

Tell the DOT that every bicyclist counts: Send an Email to Secretary LaHood now
Transportation agencies across the country are about to miss an important opportunity to improve non-motorized traffic safety and encourage healthy and active transportation options.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Bike Chattanooga Featured on Streetsblog DC

Though not a totally infrequent occurrence, it's always nice to see Tennessee in the Streetsblog feed.  Today's article about Chattanooga as a case study in bike sharing strikes a few points that are very relevant to small- and mid-sized cities planning or implementing bike share programs.   Chattanooga Bicycle Coordinator (& BWT Board Member) Phil Pugliese was interviewed for the article:

It can be difficult to launch bike-share in a small city with a transportation system that is heavily reliant on car travel, Pugliese said. But Chattanooga’s experience can offer inspiration to other small cities.
In its first six months of operation, the system has provided 12,600 rides. Together, riders burned more than one million calories. All those bike trips have resulted in up to a 8,100-pound reduction in emissions. The system will add three more stations in residential neighborhoods in the spring.

Pugliese and other project leaders in Chattanooga recognized from the beginning that Bike Chattanooga would be used most heavily by tourists and downtown workers making short trips, rather than commuters, who are often target users in other, larger programs.  As is typical for a mid-size southern city, the majority of Chattanooga residents live outside the city center and drive to work alone.  According to Census data, only 0.1% of people bike to work, and 0% walk to work.  Zero percent!  The existing behavior of driving for virtually every trip creates a tepid pedestrian culture and uncertain market for bike share...but Chattanooga did it anyway.

Bikes at the weekly bike commuter breakfast.
We did it because bike share is an initiatory attempt to change that super pesky assumption that driving makes sense for every trip.  The message is to leave your car in the parking garage- that lunch break is faster by bike.  Have fun, on a bike!  See the city a better way (by bike).  Tennessee has made progress in bike share, with the recent launch of Nashville B-cycle and a bike share feasibility study completed in Memphis.  Early recognition that the opportunities and limitations are different in  Chattanooga than in Boston/Chicago/NYC will help the smaller cities take advantage of this technology at the proper scale.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Ride Your Rickshaw?

The Tennessee General Assembly (unfortunately) is back in session. They met for a week and then took a two week vacation (must be a nice way to work!).  House Bill 13 has been introduced and amends the definition of a "rickshaw" so that it does not include a bicycle built for more than three persons!   This is in reference to the authority of cities to regulate pedal carriages and rickshaws. Who has a bicycle for more than three persons?  I've only seen one in my whole life. It was a family of four on the greenway near Arlington, Virginia. It was obviously a custom bike so I asked how much it cost. The captain just looked at me and said "a lot".

Monday, January 14, 2013

Bike Share Comes to Nashville

Mayor Dean announced the opening of Nashville B-Cycle last month and all reports say it's off to a great start. Most of the stations are in the downtown area but you can easily ride to or from Five Points, Centennial Park, Vanderbilt, Fisk/Meharry or Farmers Market. Details here. Leave a note in the comments if you have been on the bikes and let us know how it works.

State Laws concerning cycling resource

The League of American Bicyclists, AKA "The League," has compiled snapshots of state laws affecting cyclists.  If can be found here.  It's worth a look, especially ours to see if it needs any corrections.  I don't see any problems but have refrigerator blindness regarding such things.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Report From a Survivor

Unlike Michael Rivas,  Stacey Floyd,  Kate Richardson and countless others Michael Montgomery lived to tell about his “accident” with a trucker who was clearly violating state law. Unfortunately, as is true in so many cases, there was no prosecution by the District Attorney General

 Michael is now working with Bike Walk Tennessee advocating for cyclists as we attempt to convince the justice system to take these cases more seriously. We thought an update from Michael on his situation would help all of us appreciate his  ordeal and the continuing need for BWT advocacy.

Michael Montgomery Update

February 19, 2013 will be the two-year anniversary of my bike wreck when I was hit in the designated cycle lane by a dump truck. When a 185 pound man on an 18 pound cycle gets hit by a fully loaded 37.5 TON dump truck, survival is not normally part of the outcome.

I had to be resuscitated at the scene, by my still unidentified “Angel” physician, and suffered broken ribs, back, shoulder, lacerated spleen, a Traumatic Brain Injury and a punctured lung. The most serious injury was the multiple pelvic fractures. 

During the first operation two days after the wreck, I bled out on the operating table, had 9 units of blood pumped into me and had to be resuscitated again. There were numerous complications and I had to have the surgery done again, at which point I had blood clot problems and a MRSA (drug resistant) infection. I spent several weeks in rehab at Vanderbilt Hospital and two more months in a nursing home and did not walk for almost five months. 

Nine months after the wreck I got back on a bike and finished the ride I started on February 19 for my first post wreck ride.

My new normal includes pain and stiffness most of the time for normal activities. The witness, bystanders, doctors and other health care professionals remind me what a miracle it is that I survived. As a Christian, I certainly now have an appreciation for miracles, and the power of prayer. I was so fortunate to have family locally to help, as well as cycling friends, church friends, and literally hundreds who I don’t even know, donate money and pray for me from all parts of the world.

What started as the worst day of my life has turned into the best day of my life in so many ways. I have learned how our insurance, medical, civil legal and criminal legal systems work (or don’t). I hope that no one would ever have to go through a similar ordeal. But I hope the knowledge I have gained from this experience will allow me to help others, if they are in a similar situation. I am happy to talk to anyone in a similar situation about what to expect, to do or not to do.

My thanks go to so many who were a part of the recovery process.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Bike Walk Knoxville

Bike Walk Knoxville, a new chapter of Bike Walk Tennessee is being established. A steering committee met on Dec.9, 2012 to develop a mission, by-laws, and an action plan. Officers will be elected in the near future after by-laws are approved.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Share the Road License Plates being distributed

After years of hard work by the Jeff Roth Cycling Foundation, the first batch of 1000+ Share the Road License Plates are in the process of being distributed throughout the state. (Photograph courtesy of Jim Mead.) Some people have already received letters from their counties informing them about picking up their plate orders. A lucky few have already received their plates by now.

Reaching this point is quite a milestone in terms of cycling advocacy throughout the state. What are future milestones that we can aspire to? In the near future anyone will be able to get such a plate for his/her car (this initial batch of 1000 was by pre-registration only.)

Friday, December 7, 2012

Bike racks, bike lanes/greenways on agenda for 2013 in Johnson City

The Livable Communities Development Group of the Johnson City, Jonesborough, Washington County Economic Summit is digging into some specifics on the first of its top six issues areas (see below) for 2013 and beyond: “More interconnected, beautiful and clean bike and walking paths connecting destinations to live,work, shop and play in our community.”

(For the full article, click here: Bicycling update)

 After collaborative discussion, the group is set to work on two tracks, both in close coordination with the City of Johnson City. The first is planning and implementing the purchase and installation of additional bicycle racks around Johnson City. The second is looking comprehensively at the current network of bicycle routes that connect areas of the city, and working toward short, medium and long-term improvements that enhance connectivity and safety for Johnson City’s children and its growing number of adult cyclists.
 “We applaud the City and its staff for the many steps they’ve taken in this regard over the past several years,” Livable Communities facilitator Dan Reese said. “Our goal is to come alongside representatives of the planning, traffic and other divisions within the Development Services Department to keep the desire for continued improvements on the front burner.”
Development Group members are in the early stages of discussions internally and with the appropriate city representatives about both issues… Read more: Bicycling update

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Atlantic Cities Book Review - Walkable City

The Atlantic Cities has an excellent book review on the book Walkable City by Jeff Speck. Numerous other outlets have also reviewed the book. In short, the 10 pieces of walkability are as follows (quoted from the review):

  1. Put cars in their place - design cities around people, not cars.
  2. Mix the uses - mixed use development shortens trip lengths, making them feasible.
  3. Get the parking right - we often have excessive parking requirements, as well as underpriced parking.
  4. Let transit work - have transit go to the busiest areas, and go to the mixed use areas. Aim for 10 minute headways.
  5. Protect the pedestrian - have streets (two-way over one way) that favor slower travel. Parallel parking can "shield" pedestrians from automobile traffic.
  6. Welcome bikes - bikes can calm traffic, benefitting pedestrians and cyclists themselves.
  7. Shape the spaces - make the environment comfortable for walking.
  8. Plant trees
  9. Make friendly and unique [building] faces - have buildings and storefronts that people want to look at.
  10. Pick your winners - with limited resources, it's important to spend such on what makes the greatest differences.

The review's author then goes into some more detail about areas of disagreement such as the pros and cons of pedestrian-only zones, the desirability of green space, and the like. Parking and congestion pricing is tricky, in that newly revitalized downtowns should seek to welcome people coming in and visiting. Regardless, the book promises to be an interesting read.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Proposed James White Parkway Extension in Knoxville

A public hearing will be held at South Doyle Middle School December 6 at 5:00 PM over the proposed extension to the James White Parkway in South Knoxville. The TDOT description of the proposed project and lengthy history is here. The proposed project has drawn significant opposition because of the number of homes that will have to be taken, plus the degradation to the numerous trails and such that have been constructed in the area that would occur were the project to proceed. Parts of South Knoxville do not want through traffic to bypass it by going around Chapman Highway. Here is a partial list of project opponents. The proposed project would cost more than $100 million dollars.

The project is designed to alleviate an expected increase in traffic on Chapman highway in the future. Alternatives that have been proposed are improvements on Chapman Highway. Chapman Highway, being one of the main streets in south Knoxville, can certainly be upgraded in its bike/ped friendliness with sidewalks and bike lanes as part of any overall improvement project.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Robertson County Growth online survey

Online Survey Available for Input on Growth and Development Plan for Robertson County and the cities of Adams, Coopertown and Cross Plains
Survey is in Addition to Four Community Workshops Scheduled December 3-6

Springfield, TN – Residents now have the opportunity to provide needed input on the Robertson County Growth and Development Plan from the comfort of their home or office. Project officials have established an online survey to make the process as convenient as possible. The survey can be found under “Give Us Your Feedback” at  There is also a series of workshops scheduled December 3-6, providing additional opportunities for feedback.
“We can’t stress enough how important the input of residents and business owners is for the success of this project,” said Jonathan Garner, chair of the project’s steering committee. “This plan will affect everyone in some way, so providing ample opportunity to have issues addressed is very important to us.”
               The survey provides a series of 13 questions that allows the participant to answer in his or her own words. Questions range from where new housing should be located to which new industries may be good additions to the local economy. There is also a feedback section to openly address any issue not presented in previous questions. 
Residents are also encouraged to attend one of four Community Workshops to learn more about the plan. The workshops are scheduled for Monday, December 3 through Thursday, December 6.  Consultants with Littlejohn Engineering Associates, Inc. will lead the discussions. See a complete listing of the dates, times, and locations for each workshop on the following page.