Midstate Could Get New National Bike Route - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Midstate Could Get New National Bike Route

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by Adam Ghassemi

WHITE HOUSE, Tenn. Currently, a stretch of highway that cuts through town is only known as 31W, but soon it could also become the northern leg of USBR 23, or U.S. Bike Route 23.

"We anticipate that there will be really five or six north/south routes and two or three east/west routes eventually," said David Shumaker with Bike Walk Tennessee.

Shumaker and colleague Bruce Day have been working with dozens of other cyclists to find the best way to connect the Kentucky state line to Alabama's, while making the Volunteer State part of a national bike route system.

"Let's say they want to go from Michigan down to Mobile, Alabama they've got a way that they at least know is there," Shumaker said.

The idea dates back to the mid-70s, but only recently have states started designing their own routes. Tennessee's USBR23 will have a mix of bike lanes, or just wide shoulders and always share the road with traffic.

"So an experienced touring cyclist, if you've got a five or six foot shoulder, you feel pretty safe," Day said.

The route will use 154 miles of existing roads and highways to connect seven Middle Tennessee counties through White House, Nashville, Franklin and Lewisburg before ending at the Alabama state.

In White House, it could mean more tax revenue by doing something I-65 can't, bring people to businesses in the center of town.

"We hope they see a place that they'll tell their friends and family about, and people will want to come visit us," said Mayor Mike Arnold.

Outside of cross-country cyclists, the group hopes the route will also get locals on two wheels by making them more active and showing them another way to get around during short trips.

"We just want to encourage the whole activity level and make the communities more livable along the way," Shumaker said.

Bike Walk Tennessee worked with TDOT to submit the plan to a group called AASHTO (American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials), a transportation non-profit approving and coordinating the national bite route network. USBR 23 could be approved next month, a AASHTO official said Tuesday.

There's also talk of a route that could one day link West and East Tennessee from Memphis to Bristol.

Email: aghassemi@newschannel5.com
Facebook: NC5_AdamGhassemi
Twitter: @NC5_AGhassemi

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