Bike Lane Project Stirs Up Opposite Petitions For 8th Avenue South

Posted at 7:51 PM, May 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-16 16:09:05-04

 A new plan for increased bike and foot traffic on 8th Avenue South stirred up some controversy. Nashville, TDOT and Berry Hill created a plan to reduce car lanes to two and add bike lanes.

The plan, which city officials say is in its early stages, calls for the road to be reduced from four lanes to two, allowing space for two bike lanes as well as a middle lane that can be used as a turn lane or a reversible travel lane. TDOT has plans to resurface the road in the next year, but Berry Hill and Nashville were looking at the new options.

However, that sparked a petition online that has raised more than 1,000 signatures. The man behind that petition is Gabriel Smith, who owns a business on 8th Avenue South in Berry Hill.

"I love 8th Avenue. My business is here. While it does have issues with walkability, there aren't consistent sidewalks," Smith said. "This plan doesn't address the issues with walkability, it simply decreases the number of lanes in ways that we believe are going to call serious traffic problems here."

Some business owners believe the lanes will cause serious congestion. However, the people at Walk Bike Nashville say it will make the area much safer for pedestrians and bicyclists.

"Right now, it is miserable to walk on this street," said Nora Kern, President of Walk Bike Nashville. "We really want to emphasize, it's not only about bikes, it's about what it's like to be a pedestrian, what it's like to be a person going to a restaurant, going to a brewery."

Kern started her own petition, called Make 8th Safe. It's raised nearly 400 signatures.

The planning process is early on. The City of Nashville is opening up for public comment.

"The idea is to do something called a road diet," said Craig Owensby, spokesperson for the planning department. "Which involved not only blocking off traffic lanes but it also involves building crosswalks building bicycle lanes. Making it more bike and pedestrian friendly."