Cooper: Mayoral candidates White, Kelly would tap the brakes on bike lanes

Staff File Photo / Judy Scoggins, then an art student at UTC, uses one of the bike lanes on Broad Street in 2015.
Staff File Photo / Judy Scoggins, then an art student at UTC, uses one of the bike lanes on Broad Street in 2015.

Tim Kelly and Kim White may not agree on which of the two is better suited to be mayor of Chattanooga for the next four years, but they found one topic on which they wholeheartedly agreed Monday night.

Bike lanes.

The candidates were asked whether they favored the expansion of bike lanes installed on some Chattanooga streets under the tenure of current Mayor Andy Berke, and, if so, why.

"There will be a big parade when we take up the bike lanes on Broad [Street]," White said, laughing, at the Hixson Kiwanis Club mayoral runoff forum at Stuart Heights Baptist Church.

"We need a city that is walk-able and bike-able," she said in more serious vein. But we need a transportation plan with "common sense."

Bike lanes, said Kelly, before pausing, "were a noble experiment."

The businessman lives in Fort Wood, where he said a bike lane takes up about half a lane of traffic. He said he sees about one cyclist a month using the lane.

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(READ MORE: Video: Tim Kelly, Kim White snipe over politics, business in Chattanooga mayoral debate)

Under a Kelly administration, the currently configured "Department of Transportation would not remain," he said. We need to "rethink the [transportation] grid."

The city, in 2014-2015, received two federal grants to create a bicycling network from downtown to surrounding neighborhoods.

The bike lanes to which White referred narrowed Broad Street from six lanes to four in 2015 in a $250,000 project and separated on-street parking spaces from the curb with a protected bike lane on both sides of the street.

One of the grants, a $1.4 million outlay from the federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement program, financed the building of separated bike lanes connecting the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with downtown, according to newspaper archives. The grant required a $358,235 city match.

It provided for bike lanes on Eighth Street, Duncan Avenue, Orchard Knob Avenue, South Willow Street, Second Street and Frazier Avenue. However, the proposal for bike lanes on Frazier was scrapped in 2016 when business owners said they would hurt more than help the popular North Shore area.

Newspaper archives show the city was given Chattanooga City Council approval, in 2014-2016, to spend at least $391,660 - in addition to the federal grants - on bike lanes.

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