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Saturday, April 16, 2016

Anti-Biking, Anti-Sidewalk Bill Defeated by Legislators and Community Groups - Nashville!

This is great news for Nashville and Tennessee!

For immediate release

Anti-Biking, Anti-Sidewalk Bill Defeated by Legislators and Community Groups

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A restrictive state bill prohibiting the use of gas tax revenues for bike lanes and sidewalks has been defeated thanks to a coalition of Tennessee legislators and community groups, including Walk Bike Nashville and Bike Walk Tennessee. The bill, HB 1650-SB 1716, was widely denounced by proponents of active transportation across Tennessee. It would have prevented the use of fuel taxes by the state or local governments for any bike lanes, trails or sidewalks.

Davidson County Senator Steven Dickerson and Representative 
Bill Beck both voted against the bill. Other local legislators indicated opposition but the bill never advanced for a vote before the full House or Senate. Many municipal leaders, including Mayor Megan Barry of Nashville, stood alongside community groups and public health organizations to support bicycle, greenway and pedestrian funding.

According to Josh Palmer, board president of Walk Bike Nashville, “Legislation like this would set back efforts in Nashville and Davidson counties and across Tennessee to promote walking, biking and healthier communities. In Nashville, we are proud to be a Bike Friendly City and look forward to more improvements in our bicycling and pedestrian infrastructure under Mayor Barry.”
Metro Nashville is currently updating its long-term Strategic Plan for Sidewalks and Bikeways in preparation for future improvements. Walk Bike Nashville’s Executive Director, Nora Kern, is on the steering committee for the strategic plan and stated, “Defeating this legislation is a great start to our public efforts to improve conditions in Nashville and Davidson County for walking and biking.”

While the bill was defeated before reaching a full vote by the house or senate, the restriction on bicycle and pedestrian funding may be reintroduced in the state gas tax bill in 2017. “We are encouraged by the broad coalition that stood up against this bill,” said Nora Kern, “but we plan to continue working with legislators and other community groups to prevent a similar measure next year.”

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