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Cyclists Take Inaugural Ride On Tennessee's U.S. Bike Route 23

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Photo: Video by NewsChannel5.com

Cyclists Take Inaugural Ride On Tennessee's U.S. Bike Route 23

CREATED Apr 30, 2014
by Adam Ghassemi

PORTLAND, Tenn. – Tennessee is now one of just a few states to have a U.S. Bike Route. USBR 23 runs 154 miles from the Kentucky state line to Alabama following what is supposed to be the easiest route for cyclists through the mid-state.

A group of cyclists gathered Thursday just across the Kentucky state line to begin a three day long distance ride that is different than any route they’ve taken before.

“It’s kind of a milestone. Check off the bucket list kind of thing," said cyclist Lauren Sanders.

Tennessee is now one of just a few states to have a U.S. Bike Route. USBR 23 runs 154 miles from the Kentucky state line to Alabama following what is supposed to be the easiest route for cyclists through the mid-state.

“It runs from the Kentucky border down through Nashville, Franklin, Lewisburg to Alabama,” said David Shumaker with Walk Bike Tennessee.

Bike Walk Tennessee worked with TDOT to get the route established and connected to a national network.

One of the organizers, Bruce Day, said the interest highlights the growing popularity of touring on two wheels even in the South.

"It means that the culture is changing. You know, we're changing from a car-centric culture to accepting that there are other modes of transportation,” Day said.

Ben Cowan and his wife drove five hours from Bristol to join the group doing what he says is the best way to see parts of the country.

"You're going 5, 10, 15 miles an hour. You've got time to talk to people and really see the sights. I love it,” Cowan said.

USBR 23 is actually just an official name that follows existing highways, bikeways and roads to give cyclists the most room near traffic. Instead of going through the middle of nowhere, it connects cities that people want to visit by taking the guess work out of how cyclists should get around.

"They don't have to just get out a state map and go down Highway 31,” Shumaker said.

The group said they're also working with the state and Memphis leaders to convert an old bridge that spans the Mississippi River into a bike/pedestrian bridge. They hope to one day have a complete east/west U.S. Bike Route from Memphis to Bristol.

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