Jun 3 2012
12:19 am

When the announcement was made that a Cedar Bluff to downtown bicycle route had been signed and posted I was fired up.

I was determined to do it again. Actually again is a misnomer. The first time I attempted this feat, I quit on the way back at the Back Door Tavern. I had plotted a route along what I hoped to be the crest of the Deane Hill Ridge, ended up on Deane Hill Drive in excess of a mile (let's mildly classify this experience as stressful as fast as a fatass fifty year old can ride a bicycle while getting bird flipped and menaced by SUVs piloted by people on cellphones, as stressful can beI), made it to Market Square and back to the Back Door. This relatively easy because our green way system between those two points is, frankly, world class, but when I got to Carr Street and the thunderclouds were gathering and I thought of having to go through the same experience I had gone through earlier on Deane Hill Dr. only going uphill instead of downhill in the driving rain with lightning, I quit. I admit it, I quit. It was late afternoon and I was soaked in sweat and Barry was hosting a fundraiser for a friend of his going through a rocky spot, but he let me chain up my bicycle (bicycle ride ups aren't a huge source of revenue at Toddy's) and go inside to call my wife and drink a few cheap draughts. As I was drinking with the vice mayor and a locally prominent friend of his, I was explaining that I was trying to figure out how the homeless were supposed to commute in Knoxville. I expounded on the difficulties that I had faced that day and noted that quite often policy makers are out of touch with those they are trying to "help" and that I wanted to know first hand exactly what the commuting issue was about from west of Deane Hill (though not far west of Deane Hill) to downtown. I noted that what we were doing well, we did in such a grand manner that few ,if any, municipalities could keep pace with us and what we did poorly seemed to nullify all our accomplishments. I mentioned that we could start with widening a couple roads, buying some five gallon buckets of paint, putting up some signs, and using a little common sense to connect our greenways. I'd had this same conversation with Bob Becker, Finbarr Saunders, and Madeline Rogero (though to be fair to all, it is more of a rant by the time I get to the Goddamned five gallon bucket of paint part.) My wife came and got me, we loaded up my bike, and made it home in time to watch a king hell thunderstorm that coulda/shoulda ended my time on this orb had I challenged it.

The second time I attempted this grand journey, I enlisted my twelve year old son as a partner in crime. It was only fair, as it was , after all,it was he whom I was attempting to teach social responsibility. There was also quite a bit more research and some scouting trips involved. I learned about holes in fences, old paths through fields, shortcuts and easier ways both past and present, and I studied maps. Bearden Hill and Deane Hill are natural boundaries. One issue that becomes painfully obvious, very quickly, to anyone involving themselves in social issues out this way is that some people don't want these boundaries breached. That being said, we snaked our way along these tetonic mounds and learned their ins and outs, stopped by Harper's (I believe it was) on Northshore and Raven Records on the Pike and made it to lunch/dinner at Dead-End Bar B Q before heading home. My wife did not have to fetch us.

The journey to the Dead End was not the first my son and I had attempted. We had actually made it to the start of the Ten Mile Greenway via the Jean Teague Greenway and back home via Vanosdale vs. Winston. This is all important shit so I hope you're following these journeys on a map.

Before I start on the story of today's journey, I'm going to give some grades.

Common Sense- A+ If what I saw today is an indication of how every little thing is being handled in the city of Knoxville, we're in good shape. There is no way there was going to be the will to improve city services if we don't get people to use them. Signage and press releases are politics 101. Kudos for using resources at hand for improving city infrastructure in a cost effective manner.

Double checking Common sense from Downtown- C- (probably) A sign was either misplaced or stolen on West Hills Drive at the bottom of the hill. We climbed the hill and ran into another couple on Gainsborough just as tired and confused as we were. From there until we actually got on Baum Drive the bike route does not work. There are ways around this and they should be explored.

Foresight- A+ If the Hotel/Motel folks at Cedar Bluff will use this free activity to their own profit based benefit, and the businesses along the route actually look at what is going on here, then they will realize that that the infrastructure is here. Is a greenway sign to Harper's or Earth Traverse or River Sports or Savelli's worth $200.00 a month? What would it take for well developed informational signage to support the greenways? If the businesses that will ultimately benefit from the business can support the main corridors, then that frees up the city to use expansion capital to develop spurs offering more access to different neighborhoods thereby expanding the customer base.

Doing something with nothing- B+ Paint, signs and minor crosswalk repair. It really doesn't get much more cost effective than what Madeline has gotten done. (I don't mean to disparage anyone beneath her, but in reality, Haslam damn near dealt a death blow to greenways at this end of the county. Business happens by getting everyone out, not by shutting undesirables in.)

We left the house on our bicycles. There didn't seem to be much point in checking out how the greenways worked if one had to drive to a greenway. Besides, in order to sell the Dogwoods Arts Festival or virtually any tourist or business attraction in the future, if the greenways can't tie in, then what's the point? We connected Montvue to Winston to the Ten Mile Greenway and turned at Carmike Cinemas. In fairness, I should mention that my son is working on his bicycling merit badge and we left the house with the intension (and result) of getting in a twenty-five mile ride in. I should also note that our neighborhood was, by far, the toughest riding we encountered.

From Carmike to West Hills Drive(Road?) was uneventful. It was a dad working with and enjoying the presence of his son. Having been miserably lost in my life, it was a grand experience to teach detail as it relates to following signs. Unfortunately, there was a bad signage situation. As we started up the BIG hill on West Hills Drive I noticed an intersection that the signage appeared out of place(it was). Had our sign been properly placed, or not stolen as the case may be, we would have turned left and continued on a pleasant ride. As it was we climbed this tortuous hill and ended up with another couple demanding of a guy who just wanted to do yard work in peace just where in the hell we were. Once we figured out where Wesley was , I declared the whole incident the work of Republican vandals who were determined to see the Rogero administration fail. In retrospect, I'm not sure I was entirely correct, but I'm not sorry I took that position either.

Now I'm going to take a position. If this greenway and/or bike route is going to use the Wesley/Kingston Pike crossing as a real alternative then the city needs to acquire some right of way through the various businesses and churches that line this route. Lutherans tend to be reasonable people, talk to them. Restaurants want people to stop and eat, talk to them. If the businesses along the present route don't want to cooperate, fuck them. We're trying to build something great here and we'll go where businesses want to be a part of that. My son will never ride that part of the bike route, as it stands, again. There are alternate routes. Perhaps the city should explore them.

Once we got past Kingston Pike things began to fall in place. Baum Drive is dead on weekends, (and frankly a bike lane/wide sidewalk looks doable and relatively cheap), crosswalk at Northshore needs a cross button, paint for bike lanes back on Walden( as much for cars as bikes. There appears to be a lack of knowledge among auto drivers that this is also a bike route. It would be nice to see a funky neighborhood preserved instead of rolled over). And then the roll goes back by Bearden Elementary.

At that point, one begins to see the vision for Knoxville. Starting with the intramural fields, you can literally look into the future if you're willing to let your mind look beyond a construction site. Look to your left over the bridge and see an area of Sutherland serving bike riders with Earth Traverse, River Sports and Savelli's, as well as businesses that see the values of their location. The World's Fair Park spur takes folks right up to Market Square (done it many times. It's my wife's motivation for riding.) The south Knoxville waterfront gives cause for ponder (God, what a useless piece of property Baptist Hospital is unless you built some stands to watch river events from the bottom of the building on down to the waterfront. They could hold 15,000 spectators and we could host Bass Tournaments, rowing competitions, waterskiing events and anything else where we would be the only city that had the ability to offer fifteen thousand seats on the river.) HEY! That would be ........just us.

We finally made it home. 27.9 miles according to Bo's bike odometer. At twenty five he began serious lobbying to call someone to fetch us. We walked the final hill. He has talent. I learned to survive by not quitting. Today our father/son moment was about doing things my way. Thanks Madeline. Good Government is about doing the smart, cheap things and making good choices about the more expensive harder choices. Keep up the good work.

bizgrrl's picture

Thanks for the information.

Thanks for the information. Interesting effort.

Every time I see a bicycle rider on busy roads I'm afraid for them. I followed a cyclist over the Hunt Road bridge in Alcoa yesterday. He kept looking back as if he was afraid of being run over. He then turned on to the exit to get on Alcoa Highway. Yikes.

I then was stopped at a red light at Wright Road and Cusick Road. A cyclist was turning onto Wright Road. He kept putting his arm out to indicate he was turning right. Whenever I happen to use hand signals, I wonder if young people even know what it means. Do they think the person is stretching?

fischbobber's picture

Hand signals

We used them yesterday. If our failure to be involved in a fatal accident is any indication, they still work.

GDrinnen2's picture

We ride the route from cedar

We ride the route from cedar bluff to west hills often. Never have figured out how to effectively connect to Bearden.

fischbobber's picture


The signs are up. If you keep your head up they're fairly easy to follow with the one exception on West Hills Drive.

From the for it's worth department- when you reach the point of the missing sign, you will likely be stopped looking up a hill every bit as daunting as Mount Kilimanjaro. After you are done swearing you will ask yourself what king of moron designs a commuter cycling route with a hill like this in it.

There is a left turn that hasn't been marked, or that the sign has been stolen from. Were I to ride this again I would be proactive and make the turn.

jim's picture

I missed that one (West

I missed that one (West Hills/Downing)too, but since I had come from downtown, I knew where to turn. I am told that there is actually a sign there, but it is not very visible.

There are a few bugs, but they are being addressed.

fischbobber's picture

A 53 year old fatass recovering nicotine addict

would generally describe my condition. I don't give a damn about no Huron Hill although at one time I did live there. I hated climbing the damn thing when I was young and I sure as hell ain't gonna do it for fun now that I'm old.

I'm continually amazed that I function as well as I do, but 27.9 miles at a moderate pace laid me up for today. You can have Huron Hill.

Brian A.'s picture

53 isn't so old anymore.

53 isn't so old anymore.

fischbobber's picture

From Raiders

"It ain't the years, it's the mileage."

jbr's picture

App-enabled bike sharing

With more extensive bike routes this might be of interest.

From Yahoo ...

a smart bike – and a mobile app to connect all those bikes – that is at the heart of Social Bicycles. Once you subscribe to the service, the app will tell where the closest sharable bike is and will allow you to reserve it. Once you get to the bike, the app provides a confirmation pin to release the custom bike-immobilizing lock, allowing you to get on your way. The lock contains the bike’s GPS unit, which tracks your ride and makes sure the next subscriber can find and reserve the bike once you’re done


“One of the huge benefits, will be trying to understand the data that can comes out of this,” said Rzepecki. “Unencumbered data that shows what routes people are taking or where you should be installing bike racks.”

Up next: App-enabled bike sharing

EricLykins's picture

some stands to watch river

some stands to watch river events from the bottom of the building on down to the waterfront.

Brian A.'s picture

our green way system between

our green way system between those two points is, frankly, world class

Eh? Decent, but hardly world class.

fischbobber's picture

World class

I usually ride on vacation. I'm comparing ours to N.Myrtle/Pawley's, Hilton Heads system, and various points along the Redneck Riviera. We stack up quite well, though to be fair, the creeks could use a little cleaning. We have real access points for eating and shopping, a rolling ride of moderate difficulty, shaded areas and restrooms located at reasonable intervals. The experience tends to vacillate depending upon its place in the mayor's priority list, but I was impressed by the maintenance that has occurred under Rogero. Most of what I saw going on was proactive and appeared to be a part of a larger overhaul. We are on the cusp of a truly effective community commuting experience via our greenway system. I consider ours as effective as any I've seen.

Brian A.'s picture

I guess different folks like

I guess different folks like different things. I would much rather see paths like this (from Taiwan):

fischbobber's picture


How about national class?

My point is, and has been for quite some time, that after thirty years we are now to the point where we can tie a lot of this together and have a strong, well working alternative to auto travel.

It's not perfect and there are parts that are downright ugly,(see the Kingston Pike section b/w Wesley and Golf club) but, it is coming together and we are way out front of the issue especially in comparison to other communities in our region.

That all being said, it's almost like a secret society. Those of us that use this system smile knowingly at each other like we're in on a secret joke that no one knows about. I like the fact that the paths are underutilized from a selfish perspective, but there is a practical part of me that almost considers it wasteful.

In other words, I'm afraid if we had a bike path similar to the one you have pictured, it would be getting about the use of the one you are showing.

It is a cool picture and concept though.

jbr's picture

Any projections how much the

Any projections how much the finished intramural fields will increase bike path use?

GDrinnen2's picture

So what is the suggested path

So what is the suggested path past west hills elementary? I'm assuming eventually connect to Bearden?

fischbobber's picture

A Map


Here is the PDF. They give this map out for free at local bicycle shops.

GDrinnen2's picture

We rode the Huron hill for

We rode the Huron hill for the heck of it one time. I felt that one in the quads for a little while.

GDrinnen2's picture

Agreed totally. 27.9 miles

Agreed totally. 27.9 miles is a nice, long ride no matter what shape or how many hills. Congrats.

fischbobber's picture


We wrapped it up in right around four hours. The fifty mile ride(it has to be in less than eight hours) looks like it may end up being within my ability level.

Plus, plus, with a few side trips and going over the South Knoxville bridge on down to Ijams and back, there is the distinct possibility that the fifty mile ride will be doable from our house.

The grand adventure of joining one's son on an Eagle Scout journey pushes one to explore his own surroundings. It's all really cool when you get right down to it.

fischbobber's picture

We are not alone

"And if fifty people a day, I said fifty people a day walked in, sang a bar of Alice's Restaurant and walked out then they might think it's a movement"..........

and all you have to do is hop on your bicycle, drive the bike routes and give those you see a smile.


Brian A.'s picture

Related reading: (link...)

Related reading:


redmondkr's picture

"It ain't the years, it's the

"It ain't the years, it's the mileage."

See, now you recognize the importance of keeping the oil and filters changed regularly. And Brian's right, 53 is the new something or other.

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