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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Commissioner Nicely: Working To Improve Community Bike, Pedestrian Connections

by TDOT Commissioner Gerald Nicely
posted August 4, 2010

Take a look around next time you are traveling and you will likely notice that more citizens are bicycling and walking as means of transportation in Tennessee. Folks are embracing bicycling and walking for a variety of personal reasons. These reasons often include saving on ever-increasing fuel costs, improving one's health, or because it is their only transportation option. Walking and bicycling also provide an opportunity for communities to achieve larger goals such as attracting new business and tourism, increasing neighborhood safety, reducing traffic congestion, improving air quality, and increasing overall quality of life for residents.

The Tennessee Department of Transportation continues to make progress in its efforts to promote a multi-modal transportation system for Tennessee which includes opportunities for citizens of all ages and abilities to safely bike and walk to their desired destinations. In the past year alone, we have worked to adopt new bicycle-friendly rumble strip standards, revised our Strategic Highway Safety Plan to include bicycle and pedestrian safety as a major goal, offered bicycle and pedestrian design classes to our engineering staff, and worked with stakeholders to cost-effectively accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians in our construction, resurfacing, and roadway safety projects. Additionally, our Transportation Enhancement and Safe Routes to Schools programs have distributed millions of dollars in grants to local communities in order to build sidewalks, bikeways, and greenways, and to encourage children to safely bike and walk to school.

Back in May, the League of American Bicyclists announced its annual bicycle-friendly state rankings and Tennessee improved from 43rd in 2009 to 24th in 2010. This is a marked improvement, but there is still much work to do. One area deserving more attention is education of the public regarding safely sharing the road with all users. Our staff is currently working with the Tennessee Department of Safety to increase awareness by adding a share the road section to the Tennessee Driver's License manual and by airing a 'Share the Road' message on the motor vehicle network located in the state's regional driver service centers.

Finally, it is critical that we continue to move forward in our efforts to accommodate all users within our transportation system so that our citizens can experience the freedom and mobility to safely arrive at their destinations. This multi-modal approach to our initiation and execution of projects will help keep all Tennesseans in motion.

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