Staff Photo by Angela Lewis/Chattanooga Times Free Press Bob Barth rides his bike past the Tennessee River while riding in the Riverpark with his son James Barth on Friday afternoon.
The Tennessee Riverpark not only has improved the options for walkers and sightseers in Chattanooga, it has done wonders for the biking community, users say.
"The Riverpark has done more for biking and bicycling shops in Chattanooga than anything else," said Philip Grymes, executive director of Outdoor Chattanooga.
The 10-mile paved pathway is one of the main reasons Chattanooga was selected by Bicycling magazine as one of the top 50 bicycling cities in the nation.
"Chattanooga has ample greenways, including the recently completed Tennessee Riverpark, a 10-mile multi-use path that follows the Tennessee River from downtown to the Chickamauga Dam," the magazine wrote for its latest issue.
Chattanooga ranks 22nd on the magazine's list. No. 1 was Minneapolis, with 120 miles of bike-friendly options, while Rochester, N.Y. was No. 50.
The other Southeastern cities were Gainesville, Fla. (No. 16), Cary, N.C. (No. 24), Charleston, S.C. (No. 29), Arlington, Va. (No. 30), Greensboro, N.C. (No. 40), Miami (No. 44) and Little Rock, Ark. (No. 49).
To make the list, magazine editors considered the vibrancy of a city's biking community, the attention/support of city hall and overall improvement, said Loren Mooney, editor-in-chief of Bicycling.
And the Riverpark wasn't the only thing that made Chattanooga stand out, she said.
"Chattanooga has had a long and sustained good record of being bike friendly ... with its road biking and mountain biking it has a diverse and vibrant group of bike riders," she said.
To move up the list, Ms. Mooney said, Chattanooga needs to include more community events in addition to bike advocates working for policies that accommodate bike riders, pedestrians and cars any time a new road is built.
The League of American Bicyclists has recognized Chattanooga as a bicycle-friendly city since 2003, said Philip Pugliese, bicycle coordinator for Outdoor Chattanooga. The city provides about 90 miles of road and shared greenway facilities for cyclists, he said.
TOP 10 BIKE-FRIENDLY CITIES
2. Portland, Ore.
3. Boulder, Colo.
5. Eugene, Ore.
6. San Francisco
7. Madison, Wis.
8. New York
9. Tucson, Ariz.
ON THE WEB
To see the list of Top 50 bicycling cities, go to www.bicycling.com
Some area residents say bikes are a perfect way to escape the confinement of cars.
"I enjoy cycling because it allows me to see things at a little slower pace, but it's faster than running," said Ronald Driver, owner of River City Bicycles.
Chattanooga deserves the national recognition because of the safe cycling it provides in urban areas and on rural roads in Chattanooga and North Georgia, Mr. Pugliese said. The city also has a very strong mountain bike community, he said.
However, bicycling in the city could be better, some cyclists said.
"There's still a lot of room for growth for us," said Mike Teff, manager of Trek Bicycle Store Chattanooga on Manufacturer's Road.
Mr. Teff doesn't own a car and uses his bicycle as his main form of transportation. He said several people who come to his shop say they would ride their bikes more, but they don't feel safe.
Chattanooga's bicycle-friendly recognition comes one year after 51-year-old cyclist David Meeks died after a truck snagged a saddle bag attached to his bike.
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Yolanda Putman has been a reporter at the Times Free Press for 11 years. She covers housing and previously covered education and crime. Yolanda is a Chattanooga native who has a master’s degree in communication from the University of Tennessee and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Alabama State University. She previously worked at the Lima (Ohio) News. She enjoys running, reading and writing and is the mother of one son, Tyreese. She has also ...