Thursday, November 3, 2011

They're Everywhere, Almost

I am sure everyone has seen sharrows popping up on many of our state roads in Tennessee.  Jessica Wilson of TDOT says “This is part of TDOT's recent effort to add bicycle facilities to resurfacing projects when it is listed in a local plan- i.e. Charlotte Pike, James Robertson Blvd., SR-17 in Chattanooga, etc...”  If you don’t know what sharrows are, follow this link

Jessica’s comment caused me to reflect on how a group of middle Tennessee bicyclists met with TDOT officials three years ago, almost to this date, to protest the rumbling of bicycle routes.  We used rumbling of a popular shoulder on SR 109 in Sumner County as our rallying point. The outcome of that meeting was not exactly what we expected.

The strategy that we adopted subsequent to that meeting was to work WITH TDOT officials, who seemed more than reasonable to accommodate our concerns.  As some will tell you, that approach was not unanimous within our group.  To assure that the bicycling community could speak with a unified voice, members of this group formed the 501c3 non-profit corporation Bike Walk Tennessee with advocates from Bristol and Chattanooga to Memphis.  We continued to work with TDOT and in March 2010 its engineers introduced and obtained approval from the Federal Highway Administration to use a rumbling specification that is far less destructive of shoulders to bike traffic.  We didn’t eliminate rumbling and there have been some hiccups, but we achieved a compromise that in many cases also added a measure of increased safety for bicyclists.

Bike Walk Tennessee continues to work in cooperation with TDOT aided by regular communication and meetings with bike/ped coordinators and with participation on transportation advisory boards.  We like to believe that the bicycling and pedestrian community has benefited.  The League of American Bicyclists seems to think so. Last year, they raised Tennessee 19 points in their Bicycle Friendly State ranking and this year they gave Tennessee a Bronze Award.
In reference to the above Clarksville newspaper article, Daniel Binkley, the city projects manager said, "So I'd say (TDOT) went above and beyond to try to do what they could to work with us. I've been real happy with the outcome and I think we'll continue to see a lot of positives out of that."
Tom Evans

1 comment:

Miley said...

Thank you Tom and Bruce, and your colleagues at Bike Walk TN for advocating for us. You really have accomplished great things for cyclists and pedestrians across the state.