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'Growth' | The future of Knoxville's bike lanes, greenways, and sidewalks

The Knoxville City Council held a workshop for active transportation updates on Thursday.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Sidewalks could soon be in your neighborhood. But first, the city just needs to find a way to fund it. 

The Knoxville City Council held a workshop on Thursday to talk about the future of the city's bike lanes, greenways, and sidewalks. There are a lot of projects in the works, like the bike lanes on Liberty Street and East Hill Avenue, the Third Creek Greenway extension connecting to Victor Ashe Park, and the new sidewalks on Atlantic Avenue.

However, the city does not want to stop there. 

The Knoxville Bicycle Infrastructure Update detailed plans to create bicycle lanes with "buffers" on multiple-lane roads. City Council members suggested these lanes be painted in a different color to make them stand out to drivers.

The goal is to paint these lanes on roadways that see heavy cyclist traffic. 

In 2012, the city only had about 5 miles of designated bike lanes. But since 2016, that total has increased to 13 miles of bike lanes and 2.4 miles of buffered bike lanes, the study said.

Dr. Caroline Cooley is the founder of Bike Walk Knox, an organization dedicated to advocating for more accessible bike lanes, sidewalks, and greenways. She thinks adding these bike lane are important to people in the Knoxville community.

"A lot of people want to be able to get outside and walk or bike or take the bus to places they want to go, whether that's for work or recreation. But, they shouldn't have to take their cars," Cooley said.

The Knoxville Greenway Update detailed big plans to expand the system and connect existing greenways. According to the city, there are currently 112.5 miles of paved greenway and natural trails for the citizens of Knoxville.  

However, they have plans to add 24 more miles of connections, including from greenway to greenway, and greenway to a park. The city has completed 4.1 of those miles in the past five years. They still have 20 miles to go.

The city said in order for the rest of those miles to be added on, it will cost an estimated $173 million.

"We do have some really good greenways. The one that gets the most use is this Third Creek Greenway," Cooley said."It's been here for a long time since the late 70s and early 80s. And it connects the west side of Knoxville to downtown."

Find a list of Knoxville's greenways here.

"But they don't, unfortunately, always connect to where you want to go. So that's when we need to do on the street facilities," Cooley said.

Sidewalk talk filled up the last portion of the workshop. Karen McKeehan, the Transportation Engineering Chief for the city of Knoxville presented a draft sidewalk study. It included surveys from the general public on what streets they'd like to see sidewalks, and also what sidewalks need repairs.

In addition, the report addressed priority streets that need sidewalks most. The two main roads that the report mentioned were Kingston Pike and North Broadway. Both are arterial roads, and both have partial sidewalk pavings. However, neither of the roads is complete.

They both have areas where the sidewalk cuts off and forces pedestrians and cyclists to either turn around or tough it out in the street next to cars.

"We want to look at where the critical connections are, and see what can be done to bridge those gaps," Cooley said.

City residents can request sidewalk repairs on the city's website.

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