Friday, July 23, 2010

Mast General bike rides continue

Mast General's weekly rides in June were so popular, they have decided to continue them. The ride starts at 8:00 A.M. from the stage at Market Square every Saturday. This is a recreational ride and they will not let anyone fall behind. This week's route goes to the end of Will Skelton Greenway and back to Market Square. This is a wonderful ride through Ijams on the greenways. There will be some on road riding and a few hills to deal with, but there will be water at Ijams and some welcome shade. The ride will last about 1 1/2 hours and cover about 15 miles.

You can visit the Farmers Market on your return!

If you need additional information, you can contact Brad at 242-1419 or 577-1243 or at (Jim Richards normally leads these, but he is on a well-earned vacation!)

Getting the Green

City Engineering and I just tested the loop detector on Jackson at Broadway (heading toward World's Fair Park) and discovered that, contrary to most intersections, the most sensitive spot where you should position your bicycle is between the pavement cuts. (Usually it's on top of the pavement cuts--see below for excerpt from our Commute Guide.) Also, remember that there is a new state law that allows bicyclists to proceed through a red light when the loop detector (or video camera) doesn't detect them. You DO have to make sure it's really not working, and not use the law as an excuse to run any red light.

Some traffic signals are triggered by electrically charged wires buried in the pavement. When a vehicle stops over the wires, the metal disrupts the current, which sends a signal to the traffic signal control box. While a car is easily detected by the sensors, and a pedestrian can push a button to get the “walk” sign, a bicycle — with relatively little metal — must be in the right
spot to be detected.

You can recognize these sensors by looking for narrow cut lines in the pavement, usually in a rectangle shape. You should be able to activate the signal by positioning your bike on the pavement cut. If there are three parallel cuts in one lane, you should position your bike in the center of the lane, over the center pavement cut.

Also keep in mind that some traffic signals have very long cycle lengths and it may take a while to get served on a side street. Cycle lengths may be as long as one hundred and twenty seconds, and although two minutes may not sound like a long time, it may seem like an eternity when waiting for a green.

If you find a signal that is not working for bikes, please call 215-3815 or e-mail

Full Commute Guide at

Friday, July 9, 2010

Bike and Buses

The morning bike commute is ok, but by the time you leave work, it's 98 degrees....what to do? How about taking the bus home? Oh, but what to do about your bike?

Your bike can ride on the front of the bus!

But you've never used one of the racks on the front of the bus and aren't sure how it works. Don't worry, it's very simple. We have handy instructions in our Bicycle Commute Guide on page 22.

Plus, there is a bus parked at the transfer point on Main Street (in front of the City-County Building) for passengers who need A/C. You're welcome to practice loading your bike on that bus's rack.

You may be concerned about whether your bike will stay on--it doesn't seem like a completely secure system. But I have ridden the 90 Crosstown from Middlebrook to the mall and back to downtown with my bike on the front, no problem!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Bicycling Ambassadors training

We've had a lot of interest expressed in the Bicycling Ambassadors program. If you want to join in the fun, send me an email at or come to a training session. There are two to choose from next week:

Tues, July 13
Thur, July 15
6:15 p.m.
Christenberry Community Center, 931 Oglewood Ave.
Heading north on Broadway, turn left on Oglewood (there's a Krystals on the corner). The elementary school and community center will be on your right. The entrance to the community center faces Henegar St.

To complete the training, you'll need to attend a second session and one event teamed with a mentor. Just let me know and I can provide more details.

Each Ambassador will receive a $50 gift card once they complete the training and 4 hours of work, and a $100 gift card after working another 10 hours.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Bicycle Program Update

Bicycle Plan
The Bicycle Plan was adopted by Knoxville City Council and Knox County Commission in April. While the plan was technically already adopted last May by the TPO Executive Board, we felt we could get more awareness and buy-in through this adoption process. Everyone seemed very supportive of the plan and bicycling in general.

Ellen and Kelley are developing a Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan for the City of Oak Ridge. The draft plan is about to be reviewed by the plan’s bicycle/pedestrian task force and a public meeting is expected in August or September. Link to

We conduct bicycle/pedestrian counts at 10 – 14 intersections in Knoxville and in Blount County twice a year. Recent analysis shows that counts have nearly tripled since 2007. We got front page coverage in the Knoxville News Sentinel and a story on WATE evening news about this increase.

We are working with the City of Knoxville on Phase II and III of greenway directional/wayfinding signs as well as warning/traffic signs (most of Phase II has been installed already). Signage for three bike routes has been ordered. The routes connect Cedar Bluff & West Hills, Knoxville Zoo & Caswell Park, and Harvest Park/Knoxville Center Mall & North Knoxville to downtown & UT. Installation will occur in the fall. Along with signage, there will be shared use lane markings (sharrows) on 6 streets and bike stencil markings at several intersections with sensors to show bicyclists where to position themselves to be detected when there is no other traffic.

We have 6 certified League of American Bicyclists instructors to teach bicycling classes. A variety of classes are available for all ages and skills levels. We hold Confident City Cycling classes about twice a year. Jim Hagerman is teaching a class through UT Continuing Education program. Two bike rodeos for kids were held this spring, on April 17 at EarthFest and May 15 in Townsend as part of Child Safety Day. More than 120 kids participated. A Bike Commuting 101 presentation was held at Fleet Feet Sports in Turkey Creek.

The Bicycle Advisory Committee will unveil an awareness campaign in July that involves placement of lifesize cutouts, with the message that bicyclists are your friends, neighbors and family members. These will be placed at West Town Mall, and other locations are being arranged.

A Bicycling Ambassadors program is starting. Ambassadors encourage bicyclists to ride more often and more safely, and educate motorists on the rules of the road. Ambassadors attend community events and Bicycle Program events to teach bike safety, sharing the road, greenway etiquette and how to bike to work and school. Our message is conveyed through face-to-face interaction allowing for a conversation targeting the specific interests, questions and needs of each individual. Training for the first round of volunteers is starting in July. Ambassadors will staff booths at Farmers Market, along with the “And We Bike” cutouts, and will also present to all Knox County high school Drivers Education classes in the fall.

Smart Trips Month and Bike to Work Day were a huge success, with many people starting to commute by bike, or biking to work more often. The 2010 Tour de Lights will be Thursday, December 16, and planning is already underway. Due to the success last year, City Special Events will be highlighting the ride in the Christmas in the City brochure. More formal judging will occur for the awards, so go ahead and start ordering your holiday decorations!

Enforcement Roll call training on enforcement issues related to bicycling was provided to all Knox County Sheriffs Department and Knoxville Police Department officers in 2009, and to all officers in Blount County through inservice training. Each officer received the handbook developed by the TPO. In spring 2010, the training was given as part of KPD inservice training, which allows more time for presentation than at roll call.

Bike parking
More than 410 bike racks have been installed through the bike parking program, and these locations are now being put into GIS and will soon be posted online.

TDOT Coordination
The TPO coordinator works closely with TDOT staff on bicycle issues. Jessica Wilson, who has been serving as interim bicycle/pedestrian coordinator, has now been posted permanently to that position. TDOT recently held a 2-day bicycle and pedestrian facilities design training in Knoxville. More than 45 local engineers attended.