Looking for the right route

Brian Arner caught a CBS Sunday Morning report on how there’s a renewed interest in bicycling because of gas price increases. He noted how progressive one city has been for making its streets safe for cycling, which has increased cycling there tremendously.

As a cyclist who rides in a city that essentially has no bike lanes, it’s fascinating to see what Portland, OR, has done in establishing a 300-mile bike network. I wonder what kind of cultural changes we could experience in Knoxville if we had a similar commitment from community leaders?

As Brian does, I wish our area would follow Portland’s lead. Sadly, I don’t that expect to happen soon.

It’s true there are many bike paths here, when just 10 years ago there were almost none. But bike paths aren’t practical for bicyclists who wish to go fast or go cross town.

Lately I’ve been studying maps and driving new routes home from my office to scout a possible way for me to ride my bike to work. By car, the route I normally take is just over 20 miles one way, a very doable distance if I went instead by bike. But the route would not be safe on a bike. It includes four-lane roads and narrow two-lane roads without so much as a shoulder.

And that’s typical for East Tennessee. The roads are either busy, narrow, twisty, hilly, or more commonly, all of the above.

Still, I’m intent on trying to find a ridable route, even if East Tennessee never becomes another Portland.

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