Apr 25, 2022 - News

Nashville's biking blues

Data: WalletHub analysis of WalkScore metrics; Table: Axios Visuals

Nashville is among the worst cities in the country for biking, according to a new WalletHub analysis.

  • Our city was nearly dead last, ranking 99 out of 100 cities evaluated, ahead of only Winston-Salem, N.C.

Why it matters: The study lines up with a broader discussion surrounding biking and pedestrian safety here. Advocacy groups and city officials have said for years that getting around Nashville without a car is unnecessarily dangerous.

  • City reports have emphasized the urgent need for infrastructure to improve accessibility and prevent injuries and deaths.
  • Thirty-nine people died in Nashville last year while walking, biking or using scooters, according to police data.

State of play: "We aren't surprised to see Nashville at the bottom of this list," Lindsey Ganson, the director of advocacy and communications at Walk Bike Nashville, tells Axios.

  • "Nashville's bikeways construction program has mostly been a running list of delayed projects in recent years."
  • Frustrated cyclists have taken to social media to vent about slow progress, blocked bike lanes and other persistent challenges.

Driving the news: Ganson says the city's updated report on bikeways and sidewalks could improve transparency.

What they're saying: Mayor John Cooper's administration "is focused on supporting initiatives that will add sidewalks, bicycle lanes and greenways to make Nashville more of a cycling city," according to a statement provided to Axios.

  • The city has put $6.5 million toward expanding Nashville's network of bikeways in the last two capital spending plans, Cooper's office tells Axios.

Between the lines: Councilmember Colby Sledge, who has advocated for biking and pedestrian safety, tells Axios that while the city has made strides in some areas, its infrastructure is still "falling short."

  • Sledge says many improvements take place around large development projects.
  • Citywide progress will require officials to think broadly about connecting its network of sidewalks and bike lanes, rather than just creating pockets of accessibility, he says.

"It's going to require a shift in thinking," Sledge says.


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