I have waited until after the November elections and to hear the pros and cons of putting bicycle lanes on two sections of Bailey Avenue. One route is from Willow Street to Central Avenue and the other is from Central Avenue to downtown on Market and Broad Streets.
I travel on Bailey Avenue going both ways six days a week on my way to work at my law office in the James Building.
I am not against bicycle riders and in my younger days used a bike as a mode of transportation but respectfully deny that the two proposed routes are in the best interests and safety of the bikers, pedestrians, and motorists.
For about four weeks I have done an unofficial survey of both proposed sections to the usage of Bailey Avenue at 7:00 a.m., 8:00 a.m., and 9:00 a.m. in the morning. Because I normally travel home in the evening around 7:00 p.m. I am less familiar with the traffic conditions at the rush hours of 4:00 p.m., 5:00 p.m., and 6:00 p.m., however, the condition of the pavement remains the same.
I always enter Brainerd Road from Missionary Ridge onto the viaduct near McCallie School and then enter Bailey Avenue at the Bailey-McCallie split.
My remarks will pertain to the right hand lane of Bailey Avenue since this is the proposed route for the bike lanes.
Bailey Avenue is a “washboard” road full of humps, patches, holes, etc. all through either proposed sections and does not provide areas of safety for bike riders. I suggest you start at the traffic light at the split above the Diagnostic Hospital and count the number of conditions described above which might constitute a driving hazard condition affecting the safety of the riders and increase potential civil liability to the City of Chattanooga, and its taxpayers.
During the time I have conducted my non-specific survey I have never seen more than 1-2 bikers in the morning and usually there are 0. It is interested to note that some of the riders have wisely chosen to ride on the better conditioned sidewalks along the entire route due to a limited number of pedestrians who are usually just walking to the next CARTA bus stop.
A potential problem is the stationing of the garbage and recycling containers on collection days. However a spirit of cooperation with the residents can easily solve this potential problem.
Section 1 from Willow to Central Avenue is primarily a residential area adjacent to the National Cemetery. The sidewalks on both sides are in much better condition than the humps in the road and most of the businesses in the area seem to have adequate off street parking.
A rider from Willow to Central Avenue (route 1) can turn left onto Central and go one or two blocks on a sidewalk to 10th or 11th Street, cross over and then travel into Downtown on an avenue with a much better road than Bailey with less traffic and with greater safety.
The same principles apply from Central Avenue on M.L. King but in more congested areas. I respectfully differ with those who believe that drivers going to and from the Downtown area will stop to engage in business on their way to work or home.
The second route is a little bit more complicated. M.L. King is a more congested area with the presence of UTC. The reduction of speed limits to 25 and 35 mph on either route probably has some benefit.
The Willow to Central route on Bailey is a no-brainer and should be rejected for all of the reasons stated above and for others. The Central to downtown route on M.L. King should at a minimum be made safer by repaving the street to remove the humps, bumps, mounds, etc. that enhance rider safety problems and increase liability to the city. Patching as has been done for many years does not solve those problems.
I respectfully suggest that you send a representative, reporter or camera crew to view the conditions existing on Bailey Avenue as you ride along from the McCallie viaduct to downtown and suffer a teeth jarring experience at some places on the routes.
Although the unofficial citizens poll in the Chattanoogan.com website established a disapproval rate of 86% opposed to the bike lanes against a pro vote of 14% with a total of 2,721 ballots no one seems to want to realistically address this issue.
I am sending you this one citizen’s opinion and respectfully ask that you use your influence and resources to investigate this issue further.
I will be glad to discuss with you publicly or privately the views expressed by me in this opinion.
Thank you for taking the time to read this correspondence.
Jerry H. Summers
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