May is Bike Month so we’re kicking off the first AdventureBlog of the month featuring an interview with Nashville’s number one source for cycling education and advocacy: Walk Bike Nashville. Check out what Daniel McDonell, the Program Coordinator for Walk Bike Nashville has to say about the organization:
What is Walk Bike Nashville?
Walk Bike Nashville is your non-profit for building a more walkable, bikeable and livable city for all Nashvillians. Active transportation, which is walking and biking to get where you need to go, adds innumerable benefits to an individual’s life and the city culture as a whole– such as improved health, increased community connections, mitigating environmental impacts and reducing traffic congestion.
What FREE programs does Walk Bike Nashville offer?
One of our programs is Walk Bike University, where we teach community members a variety of skills including Sidewalks 101 which introduces participants to the policy-making process (and how to get involved) when it comes to sidewalks, and our bike courses, like City Cycling 101, City Cycling 201, and Adult Learn to Ride, which teach participants how to navigate their bicycle safely through traffic. We partner with Parks and Recreation, community centers, greenways and libraries to bring these classes to a diverse audience in neighborhoods all around town.
In the City Cycling 101 class we cover the basics of bicycling, rules of the road and safety practices in an indoor classroom style setting. The course also includes a fix-a-flat demonstration, which is always a popular lesson and one of the most basic bike maintenance skills that cyclists want to learn. In the City Cycling 201 class we also teach the rules of the road, but in an active on-bicycle session. Our instructors work through parking lot drills and lead participants on a 4-5 mile neighborhood bike ride. The City Cycling 201 course is a compliment to the 101 course, but participants can sign up for one without signing up for the other. The 101 course is usually on a weekday evening, and the 201 course is usually the following weekend starting from the same location.
If you don’t know how to ride a bike, it’s never too late to learn! We offer our Adult Learn to Ride class. This class was recently featured in the Tennessean and USA Today. It is one of the most fulfilling classes because almost every adult who attends the class (people who have never even sat on a bicycle before) learn to balance and pedal after only a couple hours.
Who teaches the Walk Bike University Classes?
We have 19 volunteer League Certified Instructors (LCIs) that have gone through an intensive national teaching program run by the League of American Bicyclists. These instructors come from all walks of life, all professional backgrounds, all parts of town, but have one core thing in common: they are passionate about cycling and what to make Nashville a safer place to ride by teaching more community members how to ride safely.
Why is there so much emphasis on education?
We believe that by educating people how to bicycle safely and comfortably, more people will use the method for everyday transportation (aka. vehicular cycling or commuting). More people using active transportation will encourage better infrastructure and awareness, which in turn allows more people to use active transportation comfortably and safely. It’s a wonderful win-win feedback loop where the users and the city as a whole benefit.
Walk Bike Nashville believes that many people already have a great interest in walking and biking, but studies show that only about 3% of people in Nashville ever use these methods to get to work. Providing skills and knowledge for safe and comfortable active transit taps into this interest and encourages an increase in the number of people walking and bicycling in Nashville. With increased visibility of pedestrians and bicyclists, not only do we demonstrate that these transportation modes are vital to a livable city, but continue to increase interest and develop future pedestrians and bicyclists.
What’s the best way to get into walking and bicycling?
Get out there and try it! Use your local low-stress greenway, practice your commuting routes on the weekend when there is less traffic and, most importantly, come to our FREE Walk Bike University workshops to gain the knowledge and confidence to try it out.
The Tour de Nash is another great way to gain exposure to Nashville’s vast cycling infrastructure via Nashville’s larges urban fun ride. With a free 8-mile family route and additional 25- and 45-mile routes, the tour will be will be a plush experience with rest stops, rider support, scenic beauty, and the thrill of having a thousand other riders to encourage you along your way. Sign up for the Tour de Nash today! Tour de Nash is also a major fundraising event to benefit Walk Bike Nashville.
Our current schedule of Spring classes is listed below, with new opportunities posted each season.