The data says NO. So do most bike riders.
I’ve been in several discussions recently about Nashville’s status for biking and walking. Some people have a belief that Nashville has a come a long way to treating biking and walking as legitimate forms of transportation.
There are two ways to verify this answer. One is to experience biking in Nashville and then ride in other U.S. cities such as Minneapolis, Portland, or Seattle or in European cities like Copenhagen or Amsterdam. This would be valuable information but it’s anecdotal.
Another way would be to look at national rankings based on quantitative data such as the ones compiled by People for Bikes.
People for Bikes City Ratings – Nashville is 60th of 71 Large Cities
Bentonville AR 48
Portland OR 54
PfB uses a 100-point scale based primarily upon an analysis of the bike network and what they call “low stress” and “high stress” bike lanes. Greenway trails are considered low stress and paint only street bike lanes are high stress. The only low stress bikeways in Nashville are what greenways and a few on street lanes such as the one now being built on 12 South.
League of American Bicyclists – Lowest Level (Bronze)
LAB rates cities on several factors (not just infrastructure) and awards ratings of bronze (lowest), silver, gold, and platinum.
Nashville is considered bronze level and has been for 10+ years. Memphis and Knoxville are also bronze level while Chattanooga is at silver. There are five platinum level cities including Portland and Madison WI.
One reason for low ratings is Nashville has a bike commuter share of 0.2% compared to Portland with 6.3% or Minneapolis with 3.7% based on 2016 data from the Census Bureau. There is a direct correlation between better bike infrastructure and bicycle usage.
Anytime Estimate – 47 of 50
This is a real estate research group, and they rank Nashville 47th of 50 large cities with the worst bikeability score (30 compared to a national average of 54).
There are other ratings done by other groups, but you get the idea.
Nashville has along way to go to be considered just a mid-tier biking city. Good infrastructure for biking and walking not only protects pedestrians and bike riders but increases safety for motorists.
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