Thursday, June 21, 2012

300 Bikes For Chattanooga



"Can 10,000 bikes change the way New Yorkers travel?" asks a Fast Company article of the same title. What it also asks is if Alta Bike Share can transform Boston, Washington DC, and Chattanooga in the same way. Alta has tested its new model and pricing scheme with the 10,000 bicycles and is expanding to other cities. Founder Alison Cohen says of the company's start into Chattanooga that it is, "the first of its kind in a midsize southern city" and according to Fast Company, "her company is working with the University of Tennessee to look at share data and measure its impact on Chattanoogans' lives." 

Chattanooga has been working for decades to increase its bikeability. According to a 2007 article on Choose Chattanooga.com, "The city completed a comprehensive bicycle plan in 1980, but efforts to act on the plan did not gain speed until 2001 when the city’s Bicycle Task Force developed a list of specific goals including expanding the number of miles of bicycle lanes and signed routes in the region." As announced by Bike Chattanooga , in 2004 the CARTA Chattanooga bus system ran the "Rack and Ride" program which  "from May through October rewarded bike riders who also used the city's transit system.  Each time a person used a bike and rode the bus, the rider received a Bike Buck from the bus driver. The Bike Bucks were redeemable at Owen Cyclery in Hixson for a special assortment of bicycle gear prizes ranging from inner tubes and tire levers to cycle computers and helmets." In the past year, new bike lanes have been put in on busy corridors including Willow and Dodson Avenue, better connecting neighborhoods with bus routes and making work commutes safer. 

In addition to commuter-oriented improvements to Chattanooga's bike accessibility, Chattanooga's scenery has long been attractive to advanced, semi-professional cyclists who take their road bikes to Signal and Lookout Mountains' steep roadways. For years they have taken their sport to the extreme, competing against the heavy grade of the local topography. Nearby trails and parks have many mountain bike-ready paths for a variety of skill levels and lengths, including Chickamauga Battlefield, Signal Mountain, Harrison Bay, Lookout Mountain, and Prentice Cooper. For more details on local mountain biking, check out Outdoor Chattanooga's list of top trails here.

To service both the competitive and community, a number of bike stores and a bike coop are available for service and building classes. No matter what area of Chattanooga you live in, there is a cyclist business ready to serve your needs. For further resources, visit the Chattanooga Bike Coop, Suck Creek CycleEast Ridge Bicycles, and River City Bikes, Trek, and Owen Cyclery