First Protected Downtown Bike Lane Completed

Posted at 4:09 PM, Apr 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-17 20:38:34-04

A new, protected lane has popped up on Demonbreun and 12th Avenue in Nashville's Gulch. 

If Nashville's WalkNBike plan goes through, residents could see another 186 miles of bike lanes around the city over the next two decades.

However, the city isn't waiting. A new, protected lane just popped up on Demonbreun and 12th Avenue in the Gulch. 

"This is one of the most used bike routes across town and this (intersection) has been a barrier for a lot of people that was really scary to get through," said Executive Director of Walk Bike Nashville Nora Kern.

Neon green paint and plastic barriers give cyclists a path across the intersection, separated from the rest of traffic.

There's a similar bike lane on Davidson St, but this is the first of its kind downtown.

"It's common practice around the country so we're excited for the city to catch up," Kern said.

Cyclists hope this and future lanes encourage people to ride more. Right now, many worry about crashes, like the 2013 hit-and-run that changed Molly Meinbresse's life forever.

"A car hit me from behind and I flew 50 feet and hit the pavement," she said.

The Korean Veterans Bridge where she was hit now has a small bike lane. But after brain surgery, a broken jaw and several months unable to walk she's pushing for more lanes that are protected.

"It's best to have a physical barrier between the cyclist and the cars and a good amount of space too," Meinbresse said.

The city has several in the works. One planned for Music Row, between the traffic circle and Magnolia, is expected any day. And the recent WalkNBike Plan, waiting on approval from Metro Council, proposes protected lanes on 12th Avenue South, 8th Avenue South, 4th Avenue South, 2nd Avenue South, Demonbreun St, Commerce St, Church St and others. 

Kern said the idea is for people to feel safe biking to seeral neighborhoods downtown.

"We're really promoting a network of safe protected bikes lanes," she said. 

That way people like Molly can feel comfortable hitting the roads again.

"I think about the accident every day and how it's impacted my life," she said.

And so others will try it for the first time.

Cycling advocates hope for $8 million dollars in the next city budget to tackle bike lanes and sidewalks across the city.

They say other funding could come from grants and private organizations.