With a thriving music scene, trendy restaurants, and a flourishing community, Nashville is rapidly gaining attention as a top destination in the US. As the city expands, it is increasingly important to invest in its preservation and well-being. This week, we met with one of the key advocates for our community, Nora Kern, Executive Director of Walk Bike Nashville. Nora has channeled her passion for active transportation into a movement that enables people all over Nashville to fall in love with our city in a brand new way.
The Start of a Movement
Walk Bike Nashville was founded in 1998 by a group of passionate advocates in the community who saw a need for increased accessibility to alternative transportation. The mission of the organization is simple: to see more people out riding bikes and walking on the sidewalks of Nashville. When I sat down with Nora, I was instantly drawn into her energy and passion. Within minutes of the start of our conversation, it became clear that Walk Bike Nashville is less about just eliminating emissions and more about an exciting – and contagious – lifestyle.
“For us, it’s all about Nashville, its about the city, and our community,” Nora said. “That’s the great thing about biking. It ties us all closer to our city. When I bike to work I run into friends and I meet new people, and when I’m out walking I see the city from a much more intimate perspective. We want to have more people know about us so that we can get more people out riding and on the sidewalks.”
Nora’s team accomplishes this by focusing on educational programs as well as engaging events to bring together our community.
Whether you’ve never gotten on a bike or use one every day, there are opportunities for you to get involved in a more active lifestyle. Walk Bike University is a program geared towards educating the Nashville community about the world of active transportation. Classes are free or low-cost and cover everything from how sidewalks are made to how to ride a bike. More advanced classes include hands-on experience with city bicycling to build confidence and safety. To get involved, check out the Walk Bike University class schedule here.
If you’re already comfortable on a bike and find yourself riding to events around town, be sure to take advantage of Walk Bike Nashville’s free bike valet.
“There are more and more great events and festivals in Nashville, but often there is no place to park your bike,” Nora explained. “It’s really important to know that you will have a secure location to leave your bike so that you know it’s not going to be stolen or picked up. It’s a great service because it makes biking a legitimate form of transportation, on the same level as parking a car, and it also helps events that are concerned about the environment and the impact transportation might be causing. The great part about bikes is that there are no emissions and no traffic.”
The process is simple – ride to an event that has bike valet set up and park it with Walk Bike Nashville. They will give you a claim tag, carefully watch over your gear, and return it to you at the end of the night. The service is free to bicyclists and eliminates the need to find and pay for parking. Lightning 100 offers this incredible service during every Live on the Green and parked hundreds of bikes during the festival this past weekend. For more information on Walk Bike Nashville’s bike valet, check out this link.
Looking to hit the roads more regularly? Give it a shot and bike to work once this week. It will take a bit more planning than usual, but you might find it to be an addictive and energizing way to start your day. Follow this simple checklist before taking off.
- Check your gear – make sure that your tires are inflated to the proper pressure (indicated on the side of the tire wall), your brakes operate smoothly, and that your chain isn’t rusty or damaged.
- Bring the necessities – wear a well-fitted helmet and pack a water bottle. If you know you’ll be leaving your bike outside, bring a bike lock as well.
- Know your route – as the trails and bike routes in Nashville increase, it is becoming easier to get from point A to point B. Check out these bike maps to plan your commute.
- Plan to pack – bring a bag with a change of clothes, a snack, and your work gear to insure that your day is as great as your morning ride.
Remember that you don’t have to bike to work everyday to improve your lifestyle. Even getting on the roads once a week will help you connect with the city in a new way and invigorate your normal routine. Nora shared several reasons why she enjoys biking to work:
“For me, walking and biking are all about being a part of our city. I’m from Nashville; I know the city really well and have always had an appreciation for it. The last two or three years, I’ve spent a lot of time on foot and on bike and it really made me appreciate the city from a whole new perspective and it makes you feel like you’re actually a part of the city, not just passing through it. I want to help create a city that encourages human interaction, healthy lifestyles – a city that is meant to be lived in, not driven through.”
Taking the Next Step
Interested in learning more about Walk Bike Nashville? Be sure to check out their website and get involved. You might just find that an energizing and exciting new lifestyle is closer than you think!
– Sammi (Team Green’s Fall Intern)