So here we are, one week away from Valentine’s Weekend. If you’re like me, you probably lost track of time and have found yourself cutting it close without plans!
Don’t freak out.
It’s not too late to take advantage of some great deals for a fun-loving weekend with your sweetheart (or best friend)! This week’s Adventure Blog is a follow up to last year’s “Valentine’s Dates for Outdoors Lovers” blog (which still has some valid tips!)
Gift giving can often be a stressful experience, leaving many holiday shoppers with a sense of dread that they haven’t found that perfect gift or that much-desired stocking stuffer. While we can’t tell you what’ll make everyone on your list happy this year, we are here to help you get something cool for the outdoorsy friends and family in your life! Whether you’re looking to just pick up a little something, or you’re in search of that holiday-defining gift, here are a few ideas to get you started:
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 mapsto 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!
Navigating the roads around cyclists can be nerve-racking, especially to a non-cyclist. Heck, even as a cyclist I get nervous driving around bike riders. Do they actually know the rules of the road? Will they swerve out in front of me? How fast are they really going? Is there enough room for me to pass them?
First of all, I want to make it clear that YOU, the motorists, are not the primary cause of all cycling crashes. In fact, 83% of cycling crashes do not involve a motor vehicle at all! Falls are the number one cause of bike crashes. According to the League of American Cyclists, “falls due to loss of control, flats, mechanical failure or hazards constitute 50% of all crashes, bike/bike crashes 17%, dog/bike crashes 8% and other crashes 8%.” That leaves about 17% of bike crashes that do involve a motor vehicle… and guess what?
If the only thing keeping you from enjoying a nice long bike ride is concern about getting a flat tire, you’ve come to the right blog post! Check out the step-by-step instructions below for all you need to know to change your bike tire on the fly:
(Note: If you do not know how to remove the wheel from your bike, you can visit your friendly neighborhood bike shop and they will happily teach you how!)
If you’ve been keeping up with our blog over the last several months, then you know that we’ve got a ton of love for all that Nashville has to offer when it comes to getting outdoors. From parks and greenways to waterways and festivals, Nashville provides residents with an almost endless supply of excuses to step outside and enjoy nature. Though Middle Tennessee is a fantastic place to be for recreation lovers of all types, that doesn’t mean there’s no room for improvement! As a city, we’re constantly thinking about the next steps to take to continue to support active outdoor lifestyles. Here are five projects on the horizon (or closer) that are helping to make Nashville just that much better for people who love to get outdoors:
1. Davidson Street Multi-Use Path (Coming July, 2015)
Over the last several years, Nashville has made great strides toward becoming a much more bike-friendly city. In 2012, Nashville was recognized as a bronze-level Bicycle Friendly Community (TM) by the League of American Bicyclists, and as of last week, Nashville now has 16 Bicycle Friendly Businesses (TM), including us! If our cycling community is to continue to grow and thrive moving forward, then there certainly needs to be an increase in infrastructure to provide riders of all ability levels with safe and accessible routes across the city. Thankfully, city officials have recognized this need and acted accordingly, recently announcing a multi-use path to be installed along Davidson Street near Shelby Bottoms. The path enhances the existing Music City Bikeway by implementing a paved path for both pedestrians and cyclists that would range between 8 and 12 feet wide and include protective bollards and wide striping to increase user safety. The path will increase connectivity between Downtown, LP Field, Shelby Bottoms, and existing neighborhoods in East Nashville, and is a fantastic resource for commuting and recreational cyclists alike!
2. West Riverfront Park and Amphitheater (Coming July, 2015)
If you’ve set foot in SoBro recently, then you know how hard it is to miss all the construction going on in what is becoming one of Nashville’s fastest growing commercial districts. Sitting prominently on a long-blighted piece of prime riverfront property (this site was once the home of Nashville’s Thermal Transfer Plant), the soon-to-be-completed West Riverfront Park will provide an incredible array of amenities for Nashvillians to get outdoors. Most notably, the park features a gleaming 6,500 seat outdoor amphitheater, giving the city a much-needed mid-size concert venue. The lineup for the inaugural season at the newly-named Ascend Amphitheater was just released last week, featuring more than a dozen shows ranging from Eric Church and Grace Potter to Widespread Panic and Old Crow Medicine Show, offering a little something for every musical taste. The site will also feature a dog park, outdoor wi-fi, more than a mile of greenways and paths, basketball courts and so much more, providing SoBro with access to a ton of much-needed resources to enjoy the outdoors right in the heart of Downtown.
3. East Bank Landing (Coming Summer, 2015)
Though West Riverfront Park has been getting most of the press recently, there are big changes happening on the other side of the river as well. East Bank Landingis currently under construction adjacent to LP Field and the Bridge Building, tucked in near the eastern end of the Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge. When complete, this small park will feature increased green space and shade trees, several benches, a picnic area, and a floating dock for the General Jackson. Perhaps the best feature for local outdoors enthusiasts, the renovated space will also include direct water access for launching canoes and kayaks, providing another access point to what has been a historically under-utilized Cumberland River. East Bank Landing also acts as an addition to the existing open space in nearby Cumberland Park, making for several acres of contiguous green space along the increasingly resident-friendly eastern bank of the river.
4. oneC1TY (Ongoing, some elements now open)
Tucked into a historically nondescript lot north of Centennial Park, the oneC1TY projectis quickly becoming one of Nashville’s most talked about developments, and with good reason. Part of the larger redevelopment of Charlotte Avenue into a “healthy corridor,” oneC1TY seeks to become a hub for health and wellness both indoors and outdoors. The project will feature tons of sustainable elements, like a shipping container village (playfully named C1TYBLOX) full of health-oriented businesses, as well as highly-efficient office space for groups like the Tennessee Orthopaedic Alliance. oneC1TY will also play host to several public outdoor elements, like walking paths, a lake with a picnic area, an amphitheater for music and other performances, and sand volleyball courts (which are already open). Overall, the project is aiming to be a LEED-certified sustainable neighborhood with both residential and commercial components, and its main goal is to be a center for innovation and collaboration on all things health and wellness in Nashville.
5. Centennial Park Renovation (Phase 1 due in May, 2015)
One of Nashville’s oldest and most recognizable parks, Centennial Park has long been a cherished outdoor spot for many locals. Since 1897, the park has provided Nashvillians with access to walking and running paths, abundant green space, a small pond full of wildlife, gorgeous gardens, and a full-scale replica of the Greek Parthenon among other amenities, all in the heart of Midtown! Though the park has long been a staple of Nashville’s recreation culture, an increasingly vibrant and growing user base has spurred on the need for renovations. Construction began late last summer on Phase 1 of the project, which includes a permanent amphitheater for the Musician’s Corner concert series and enhanced parking and landscaping near the Parthenon, among other components. Future phases will provide park users with access to a stream flowing through the park, the renovation of existing monuments and addition of new sculptures, the installation of a playground, and so much more! The Centennial Park Master Plan outlines all of the changes happening throughout the park, and provides a snapshot into how incredible the park will be for all of Nashville when it’s complete.
All of these great projects have got us beyond excited to get outdoors as the weather heats up this summer, and we hope you’ll join us! Check out our calendar to find ways to get involved. Do you have a favorite local project going on that we missed? Feel free to add it in our comments section below!
April 1st officially marked the start of Transit Month here in Nashville, meaning you’ll soon hear more talk around town about ways to step out of your car and take alternative modes of transportation. Getting around Nashville, especially during peak driving times, can be a chore. Nobody likes spending hours sitting in traffic every week, and with the weather warming up, there’s never been a better time to ditch the car and take advantage of the variety of active transportation opportunities available locally. Whether you’re heading to work, school, or church, running errands, or going out to spend time with friends or family, take some time this month to think about different ways to get from A to B. Given the wide range of benefits of active transportation, your body, mind, and Mother Nature are sure to thank you!
Here are five quick suggestions on how to lead an active (transit) lifestyle locally:
1. Catch the Bus
Transit Month is meant to highlight all the alternative transportation options in Nashville, including the bus and the Music City Star, but many people don’t think of the bus as active transportation. It is! While riders may not be active during their time on the bus, they’re sure to incorporate some form of active transit at either end of their journey, making walking or biking (pssst. Nashville MTA buses have bike racks on the front!) a key component of any local bus trip. Riding the bus is eco-friendly, helps to cut down on congestion (especially during rush hour), and promotes significantly more active transit than driving does. With continued improvements to Nashville’s bus system, including the addition of BRT-lite service along Charlotte and Nolensville Pikes and the installation of 100 new bus shelters around town, riding the bus is now a more attractive transportation option than ever before!
2. Bike Sharing is Caring
Don’t have a bike? Share one! Nashville has a ton of great resources for would-be bicycle riders, making cycling a great alternative transportation option for any Nashvillian. Nashville B-cycle stations are located all over town and provide users with ready access to bikes on demand for just $5 per day. B-cycle is perfect for going out to lunch, getting to a quick midday meeting, taking care of nearby errands, or simply taking a tour of the city! With an ever-expanding number of stations, more places than ever are now reachable by this low-cost, low-commitment bike share program. Keep in mind, however, that it is a bike SHARE program, so you need to “dock” the bike at a nearby B-station every 60 minutes. You can check the bike back out for free, and you can find available nearby stations using the B-cycle smartphone App. If you don’t dock your bike every 60 minutes, you’ll be charged an additional $1.50 for every half hour over.. up to $45 for bikes kept out over 24 hours.
Nashville GreenBikes are also a fantastic, free resource for those looking to ditch their car in favor of riding a bike, with more than half a dozen bike pick-up locations at parks around town. These bikes don’t require the same time constraints, but they also have no gears to help you get up those Nashville hills.
The oldest and most accessible form of transportation, walking, is by far the easiest way to get healthy and active while getting around town. While it might not be practical for many people to walk to work or the grocery store, there are plenty of other opportunities to walk throughout the day. Heading out to lunch with some co-workers? Try walking to a nearby restaurant rather than driving somewhere further away. Spending time with a friend in your neighborhood? Walk to their house instead of driving a few blocks. As we’ve mentioned before, 90 percent of Nashvillians live within 2 miles of a trailhead to Nashville’s Greenway system, giving walkers (and runners, and cyclists, and rollerbladers…) easy access to these safe and scenic active transport routes. The Greenway system often acts as a fantastic connector between neighborhoods, giving local residents walkable routes between residential and commercial districts (like between Sylvan Park and White Bridge Road, or between North Nashville and Downtown). Whether you’re on a Greenway, in your neighborhood, or at your office, get out there and walk instead of driving!
4. Try an Active Commute
Have your own bike and want to make your daily commute a little more active? Living within 10 miles of your office or school makes commuting by bike a very realistic transit option, especially if you can make the trip using mostly bike lanes or quieter neighborhood streets. Check out one of our older blog posts for tips to make bike commuting a part of your regular routine! Even if you can only manage to commute by bike every once in a while, it’s still more than zero, helps you get in a good workout, and saves you some money on gas!
Do you live ultra-close to work, like 1-2 miles? Strap on some rollerblades or hop on a skateboard!
5. Get Informed!
With so much going on in Nashville year-round, it can be hard to stay up-to-date with all the changes happening around town. To keep in the loop on all things active in Nashville, check out the Nashvitality app, which features maps and other information on walking, hiking, biking, and other outdoors activities! Local blogs, like Walk/Bike Nashville’s Footnotes, are also a great resource for anyone looking to learn more about changes in Nashville’s pedestrian and cycling legislation and infrastructure. You can even check out the Nashville MTA website for transportation resources like bus schedules and upcoming transit projects concerning Nashville’s mass transit options. Finally, RSVP for Team Green’s Nutrition On-the-Go Workshop & Transit Fair at the Nashville Farmers’ Market on Wednesday, April 15h at 6pm, giving you the opportunity to learn how to eat healthy on the go while interacting with many of our local transit resource providers!
For more resources on all things transit during this month of celebration, check out the Transit Now Nashville website. Are you already doing your part to make your daily movements around town more active? Follow us on Twitter and send us some pictures of your favorite way to get around with the #ActiveTransit hashtag! We hope to see you on the trails, Greenways, bike lanes, and buses this month!
In case you haven’t heard, Valentine’s weekend is just around the corner. Coming up with something really creative is tough when Valentine’s falls on a weekday, but when you have a whole weekend to work with, your options open up! “Dinner and a show” is a great go-to in Music City, but you’re missing out on some amazing (and memorable) opportunities outdoors. This is the Adventure Blog, after all!
Some of the ideas below may require reservations and could be booked up already. It just so happens February 14th is on a weekend next year too, so start planning!
According to one recent study, Nashville ranked just 29th among the 50 largest cities in the United States for recreation opportunities. While it’s no surprise that peer cities like Denver and Portland ranked ahead of Nashville, it did come as a bit of a shock that Nashville was ranked behind cities not necessarily known for their outdoor and recreation cultures, including Cleveland, Detroit and Kansas City. It should be noted that the study used certain metrics like public beaches per capita, which might put Nashville at a disadvantage (and cities like San Diego at a clear advantage), but factors like music venues per capita were also taken into consideration, which would definitely help to give Nashville a boost relative to other metro areas around the country.
While Nashville certainly has plenty of room to improve in many ways, especially when it comes to things like creating more access points to utilize the Cumberland River as a recreational asset, Davidson County continues to make great strides towards being a regionally- and nationally-recognized recreation hub. Here’s a list of our top 5 reasons why Nashville is a great city to get outdoors and be active:
1. The Greenway System
Whether you’re a walker, a runner, a cyclist, a rollerblader, or just about anything else, Nashville’s greenway system is a great resource for local outdoor recreation. If you’re not familiar with them, greenways are “linear parks and trails that connect neighborhoods to schools, shopping areas, downtown, offices, recreation areas, open spaces and other points of activity,” and are “often located along natural landscape features like streams, rivers and ridges, or along built features, such as railroad corridors and scenic highways,” according to Greenways for Nashville. With more than 65 miles of greenway trails in Davidson county, it’s no surprise that upwards of 90 percent of Nashvillians live within 2 miles of a greenway access point. The best part? They’re completely free and open year-round!
2. Great Local Parks
Nashville is fortunate to have access to an abundance of high-quality parks. Ask anyone around town where their go-to place to get outdoors is, and you’re sure to hear a lot of the same answers. Percy Warner Park, Radnor Lake State Natural Area, and Centennial Park (and Sportsplex) are all common favorites among locals, providing space for walking, running, hiking, festivals and races, and other beloved community events. Places like Bells Bend Park and Cane Ridge Park (in addition to Warner Park) offer access to mountain biking trails, and dozens of other parks across the county feature everything from tennis courts and golf courses to baseball diamonds and basketball courts, providing recreational outlets for just about anyone. In total, Nashville has 108 parks and 19 greenways, adding up to more than 12,000 acres of accessible open space around town. Current projects like the renovation of Riverfront Park on both the east and west banks of the Cumberland continue to add park-based amenities to Nashville, with features like a dog park, river access, and a 6,500 seat amphitheater soon to be open for use.
3. Tons of Local Waterways
For a landlocked city, Nashville has access to a plethora of water-based recreational opportunities. If you’ve spent even one summer living here, you know that it gets HOT, so taking some time to get out on a lake or river is key to keeping cool. Whether your activity of choice is grabbing a canoe and floating one of Middle Tennessee’s scenic rivers, like the Harpeth or Caney Fork, or hopping in a boat and spending a day on Percy Priest or Center Hill Lake, there’s no shortage of ways to enjoy the water in Nashville. Other opportunities include plenty of fishing and swimming, a growing stand up paddle board culture, and Nashville’s annual Dragon Boat Festival on the Cumberland River (seriously, check it out if you never have – it’s a blast! Here are some pictures from when we raced in it last year.).
4. Our Growing Cycling Community
Did you know that Nashville is one of only 18 cities in the United States with a population of 500,000 or more to be recognized by the League of American Bicyclists as a Bicycle Friendly Community? Over the last decade, Nashville has made a ton of progress in becoming a safer city for cyclists of both the commuting and recreational variety. Nashville has more than 140 miles of designated bikeways across the county, including the 26-mile long Music City Bikeway, which links Percy Warner Park on the west side of town to Percy Priest Dam on the east side. Nashville has also invested heavily in its BCycle bikeshare program, providing affordable access to bikes for both residents and tourists in the downtown area and surrounding neighborhoods. The BCycle system currently features 25 stations and 225 bikes, with plans for five more stations to be installed in 2015. In the two short years since the program’s inception, more than 50,000 BCycles have been checked out!
5. Our Close Proximity to Nearby Recreation Opportunities
Itching to get active in Nashville? Join us for one of our upcoming trips! We’re heading to Frozen Head State Park on Saturday, January 31st for a backpacking trip, and we’ll be at Climb Nashville for Indoor Rock Climbing every Tuesday now through the end of March!