Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Into the great bike lane beyond

You've probably heard by now that our voices were heard, and TDOT has agreed to include bike lanes as part of the Henley Street Bridge renovations. On two of our earlier posts, we had a discussion about such bike lanes, and several people mentioned some other ideas about them, like extending them up Henley to Broadway.

That got me thinking about bike lanes and the city of Knoxville. The idea of extending bike lanes up Henley seems good in theory but scares the crap out of me in practice because of the traffic volume and sheer size of the road. But bike lanes on Broadway I'd like to see, although I'm not sure there's enough room for them.

I guess what I'm getting at is to ask everyone where the city could feasibly stand to have some bike lanes, sidewalks or more greenway space. I realize it might be fruitless to dream about these things, but it's not going to stop me. I say feasibly because as much as I think Sequoyah Hills needs some sidewalks beyond the boulevard, I know there's no room for them on most streets and it's never going to happen. But the Henley Street bridge was a feasible option, and it might actually come to fruition. What other ideas like that is the city missing out on?


ck said...

Streets like Henley are exactly where we need bike lanes- they're too crazy for a typical "share the road" scenario and need a protected zone for bicyclists. Most side streets with light traffic don't need designated lanes, but the main arteries into downtown (especially from the inner neighborhoods) need lanes holistically integrated. What I mean by holistic is a SYSTEM that interconnects, not just randomly ending wherever (i.e. Hall of Fame).

I'd like to see bike lanes on:

Cumberland Ave.
Western Ave./Summit Hill
Chapman Hwy./Broadway/Henley St.
Sevier Ave.
connect Central Ave. bike lanes to Old City

And while we're dreaming... let's convert the railroad bridge by Maplehurst into a pedestrian/bike bridge that connects into the greenways and the bike lane system.

Tom Skib said...

Simply start extending the bike lanes that already exist and that would make a ton of people happy. I target the extension of ones on Central. Then have them tie into the Hensley St bridge. It doesn't have to be straight down Broadway (due to limited space), but maybe have them connect through the Old City and a couple of side roads like Jackson. Jackson seems to be going through a renaissance of sorts, and a bike lane would increase much needed traffic through there.

Extension of the bike lanes down Chapman, as well as a speed limit reduction, would be extremely useful. If Knoxville ever gets going on the South Side waterfront project, the bicycle lanes will be of great importance.

kelley said...

The reality is, unless a significant change happens to the City's priorities, bike lanes are going to happen only in conjunction with road projects (like the bridge in question, and the new Hall of Fame, and currently under construction, Campbell Station Rd). There just isn't enough support right now for a project that only adds bike lanes to a road (where you have to purchase right of way). We do look for opportunities to do a road diet, like the one planned for Central in the near future--take away a travel lane in order to add bike lanes.

People need to communicate to their elected officials what their priorities are. There are limited funds, of course, so what do you want to cut back on in order to spend more on bike lanes?

The Knoxville Regional Bicycle Plan will be going before City Council and County Commission, most likely in April, so that will be a good time to express your opinions to electeds! If you want to stay in the loop on these issues, let me know at or fan us at

Anonymous said...

You want to convert a railroad bridge that is in use to a bike bridge? good luck with that.

ck said...

Kelley- we'll definitely direct our readers to your work so they can help get things happening.

Anon- they actually talked seriously about converting that bridge during the south waterfront design process. The consulting firm found out that only one train a day uses it- the majority of the traffic goes over the bridge near campus. Chattanooga did a similar thing- so why can't we?

Tom Skib said...

If the rail line is needed, then extend the bridge to include a walkway/bicycle lane. Other cities in our wonderful country have bridges with rail/pedestrian paths/bicycle lanes on them.