Saturday, April 10, 2010

Chattanooga Is Bicycle Friendly. No, Really.

Written by Laura Jane Walker.
After hearing that Chattanooga was designated as a bicycle friendly community in Bicycling Magazine, my initial reaction was "yeah ... right," but I think the designation goes deeper than the short blurb we received. In fact, this town makes it feasible for me to comfortably live and play without a car, and there are many facets that make Chattanooga biker friendly.

The Riverwalk

On first thought this paved greenway in Chattanooga seems to lack connectivity to businesses or residential areas. However, it provides cyclists and pedestrians with a safe, smooth pathway with access to various parts of town. Fellow cyclists and commuters use this path to commute to and from Hixson or to the Bonny Oaks area and beyond. I'm always amazed at commuters who talk of cycling to the Lee Hwy area — or Cleveland!

Neighborhoods in and Around Downtown

Residents in North Chattanooga, downtown, Southside and St. Elmo all have bicycle-convenient, relatively affordable access to housing, jobs, retail, restaurants, great parks and excellent cycling. Sometimes I laugh because my life fits in a few minimal square miles — my commute to work is about 2 miles, most of my friends and family live not too much further than that, and all of my shopping and recreation happens not too far from that small radius. Some might consider it a bubble; I think it's spectacular, convenient and fun.

Recreational Cycling Outlets

Road and mountain bikers alike can attest to the beauty of the region. With numerous regionally renowned mountain biking trails and popular scenic road routes, competitive and recreational cyclists have access to a variety of rides. Also, the neighborhoods mentioned above are close enough to great scenic cycling routes, enabling bikers to ride from their homes. The ride to Flinstone, Ga., the Tuesday night Red Bank ride and Moccasin Bend: all great rides close to home.

Mostly, I think all Chattanoogans need to start considering our city a bicycle friendly community. The more we adopt the moniker, the more people will start to cycle on the streets and the more attention cycling will receive. All of this two-wheeled forward motion can lead to fixing some of the "problems" that many cyclists complain about — including poor road conditions, poor driver-cyclist relations and not enough "fun" non-racing cycling events. This recognition from Bicycling Magazineis a welcome display of how far the cycling community has come in Chattanooga, and I hope it only spurs more growth.

I also would like to extend an invitation to all cyclists to attend the local ride, 3 Rides, 3 Hoods: Perspectives on the City, on May 2.

Laura Jane Walker is a local writer and car-less commuter living in North Chattanooga.


John H said... is licensed under Creative Commons, so it's okay to republish our articles, but you need to use proper attribution, including a link to the original:

John Hawbaker
Editor, Chattarati