A local organization has formed to raise awareness of issues related to walking and biking within Brentwood. Bike Walk Brentwood seeks to educate residents about the benefits of walking and biking and to advocate for more pedestrian and biking infrastructure in the city.
“There’s a really a longer term need for an organization to not only challenge the city to improve infrastructure but also to recommend ways to do it—bring experts to bear perhaps. And also to be an advocate for the citizens with the city,” Bike Walk Brentwood organizer Richard Hunter said.
Bike Walk Brentwood was formed as a local chapter of the larger advocacy organization, Bike Walk Tennessee. Hunter said the inspiration to organize the group grew out of the work he and others did over the past couple of years on Brentwood’s Bike and Pedestrian Ad Hoc Committee, a body formed with the mission of recommending short-term and long-term ways the city could make itself more bike and pedestrian friendly.
Some of that report dealt with education—how to make it easier for kids to walk or bike to school, for instance. One proposed method to achieve this was the creation of “walking school buses” where a parent or parents would set particular routes they would walk, picking up kids along the way until they reached school. Another idea, a bike train, would work similarly, although in this instance one parent would be in front and one in the back with a group of biking kids in the middle.
Hunter still wants Bike Walk Tennessee to advocate for ideas like those, but really what he sees as the number one impediment in Brentwood to greater walkability and bikeability is infrastructure.
Although Hunter is pleased both that the Bike and Pedestrian Ad Hoc Committee’s report seems to have been warmly received by the city, and that the city is “doing good work” like improving some sidewalks in town, he believes there is so much more to be accomplished in Brentwood.
“We’re talking about everything from ADA access, and wide enough sidewalks, and the ability to use crosswalks which are well-marked with either crossing lights or flashing lights, to safe multi-use paths, to bike lanes on streets that are designated and well-marked,” Hunter said, rattling off a list of improvements Bike Walk Brentwood is in favor of.
Even little things like bike racks are severely lacking in Brentwood, Hunter said: “That’s the range of infrastructure we’re talking about.”
Of course, some areas of the city are closer to Bike Walk Brentwood’s ideal than others.
“We’ve got a great path system on the east side of Brentwood,” Hunter said. “You see people walking, running and cycling on those paths.”
The same does not hold for the west side, however. That’s where Hunter thinks a large proportion of infrastructure work should be done.
“The west side of Brentwood is not afforded the same types of infrastructure,” Hunter said. “That’s a real area of focus to see how we can connect the green spaces, the neighborhoods and the city center areas with safe routes for walking and biking. That’s really one of the central goals. My vision for Brentwood is that we should be able to walk or bike from Wildwood in the northwest corner of Brentwood to the library or Crockett Park safely.”
There are multiple reasons why Hunter feels that goals like these are so important to the city. Of course, there’s the health issue. Walking and biking are good exercise. There are also other quality of life issues like traffic. Hunter believes that Bike Walk Brentwood’s vision of the future would result in less roadway congestion in the city.
Then there are the economic reasons. Walkability and a robust trail system throughout the town could prove attractive to businesses and people considering relocating to Brentwood.
Finally, though, there is the idea of connectivity being a good in and of itself. That is at the heart of Bike Walk Brentwood’s mission.
“The real motivation here is around building a stronger community,” Hunter said.
More information about Bike Walk Brentwood can be found on the group’s website—where you can sign up for the organization’s mailing list—and on its Facebook page.