Electric Bicycles on Nashville’s Greenways?

Greenway E-Bike Access Research & Survey Findings

 A report and a two-part recommendation from the Greenways and Open Space Commission was approved by the Metro Board of Parks and Recreation meeting on Tuesday, March 1, 2022.

The Commission’s recommendations include that no change to local regulations regarding e-bikes be made at this time, as the Commission acknowledges that there is not currently sufficient information to determine that e-bike usage on Greenways is unsafe.
The Commission also recommends the collection of additional information and data as to all usage on the Greenways, including e-bike usage and matters related to infrastructure, enforcement, and user behavior on the Greenways. The scope of work for gathering this information to be determined by the Parks Board and/or their staff.

E-Bike Report Jan 2022

Some Background:

Since the first greenway was opened in the early 1990’s, Metro Parks’ greenways have been enjoyed by walkers, cyclists, nature lovers, runners, families, commuters, rollerbladers, neighbors, bird watchers, skateboarders, and people of all ages and abilities.  A long-standing Parks’ rule of No Motorized Vehicles served as the policy for how people enjoyed the greenways.  Nashville’s greenways are designed to meet ADA compliance and, of course, motorized wheelchairs have always been welcomed.

In 2016, a state law was passed that defines and authorizes the operation of Class I and Class II electric bicycles on any path or trail intended for use by bicycles. However, the bill also stipulates that local authorities can regulate electric bicycles in their jurisdictions. In a clarifying determination this summer, the Metro Legal Department determined that the Parks’ rule of No Motorized Vehicles no longer applied to Class 1 and Class 2 Electric Bicycles.

 

 

2021 Evaluation E-bikes on the Greenways:

In August 2021, Metro Council passed a Resolution to evaluate electric bicycles on Nashville’s greenways. Conducted by Metro Parks, Nashville Department of Transportation, and Metro Legal Department, this process included community engagement, peer city review, safety analysis, and the collection of other relevant information. The purpose of the evaluation was to help determine future policy for electric bicycles on Nashville’s greenways that ensures the physical safety of all greenway users.

Greenways for Nashville is a champion for community engagement and supports this study process.  We encouraged all Davidson County citizens, regardless of their opinion, to participate in this survey to make their voices heard.

Photo (left) taken on the Cumberland River Pedestrian Bridge

Greenway E-Bike Access Survey Results

A Metro Parks’ Electric Bicycle Greenway Access survey was conducted from October 29th through November 30th, and is now closed. Thank you to everyone who participated!

With nearly 2,700 votes, 54% of Greenway users approve of pedal-assist E-bikes (Class 1) on the Greenways. The survey also revealed a slightly higher 56% disapproval of E-bikes that don’t require the rider to pedal (Class 2).

Complete survey results are included in the  212-page report and can be accessed at Greenways E-bike Access Research and Survey Findings.

Electric Bicycles Definition and Classes:

Electric Bicycles, also known as an E-bikes, powerbikes, pedelecs, or booster bikes, are bicycles with an integrated electric motor that does not exceed 750 watts of power.

Class 1 Electric Bicycles provide assistance only when the rider is pedaling, and ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches a speed of 20 mph

Class 2 Electric Bicycles provide assistance regardless of whether the rider is pedaling, and ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches a speed of 20 mph

Class 3 Electric Bicycles provide assistance only while the rider is pedaling up to 28 mph.  TN law currently prohibits the use of Class 3 Electric Bicycles on paths or trails such as Nashville’s greenways.

Photo (right) courtesy of Walmart.com