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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

As e-bikes explode in popularity nationwide, Nashville is struggling with how to regulate them and whether to allow them on the city's beloved greenway system.

Why it matters: The issue has created a low-key bureaucratic battle, roping in influential advocacy groups Walk Bike Nashville and Greenways for Nashville.

The big picture: E-bikes, which are battery-assisted to help a rider pedal, are booming thanks to high-minded environmental concerns and their coolness and fun factor, according to Axios' Jennifer A. Kingson.

  • Bicycles are a $5.3 billion business, up 65% in the 12 months ending July 2021 compared with 2019, per the market research firm NPD Group.
  • E-bike sales are up 240% in that period, way more than mountain bikes (70%) or children’s bikes (57%).

State of play: In July, Metro Council member Bob Mendes and 16 other council members sent a letter to the Parks Board expressing support for e-bikes on greenways. "Encouraging e-bikes on greenways would align Nashville with most other cities and states," Mendes said.

  • An analysis by the city's legal department concluded state law gives Metro the authority to regulate or prohibit e-bikes, but existing ordinances related to no-ride zones and slow-down zones have not "effectively prohibited them at this time."
  • Metro Council passed a new resolution in August calling for city agencies to work together to solicit public comments and study how other cities are handling e-bikes.
  • A survey will be available soon and the public will have until Jan. 2, 2022 to weigh in. In the meantime, there's a moratorium on e-bike related legislation.

What they're saying: In a blog post, Walk Bike Nashville said it believes pedal-assisted bikes are the same as regular bikes and should be allowed on greenways.

  • But Greenways for Nashville, another prominent advocacy group that raises money and supports the city's greenway system, has expressed concerns. The group backed the August legislation allowing for research and public comment.

Go deeper

Nashville readies its pitch for WNBA franchise

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

A coalition of city leaders is slowly making progress on its mission to attract a women's professional sports team to Nashville.

  • The women's professional sports ad hoc committee, led by influential attorney Margaret Behm, met last week to hear an update from the city's consultant.

Poll shows eroding school satisfaction

Note: Percentages are rounded to the nearest whole number; Data: Nashville Public Education Foundation; Chart: Axios Visuals

The Nashville Public Education Foundation released on Thursday a new poll showing deepening dissatisfaction with public schools during the pandemic.

Why it matters: Nearly half of the 500 voters polled in September said they thought Metro Nashville Public Schools had gotten worse over the last five years.

In photos: Cyclo-cross World Cup in Fayetteville

Raylyn Nuss of USA at the begining of the elite women's race. Photo: Worth Sparkman/Axios

Worth here with a few thoughts and pics from yesterday's World Cup Cyclo-cross held in Fayetteville.

My thought bubble: This may be the most underrated sport in the U.S.

  • Yes, it rained. And yes, it was muddy, and yes even a little cold at the end.

But this is a good, fun time for all ages. There's drama, showmanship, fierce athletic grit, and my oh my, can these women and men ride bikes.

  • There's a level of camaraderie among those watching I haven't seen in another sport. It was probably the mud.
  • As I heard one spectator shout at the end of the last race: "We should do this every Wednesday!"

The bottom line: Start planning now to attend the 2022 Union Cycliste Internationale World Championship held in Fayetteville Jan. 28–30.