With the completion of the resurfacing of Highway 41, Manchester gained over three miles, round trip, of bike lanes, interspersed with bike routes on the north end of town. The addition is a step in the right direction, says city planners, adding safety for cyclers and pedestrians, but also shows the need for added driver awareness of the roads they share.
Drivers accustomed to the old markings may find the new road markings a bit confusing at first, but with a little patience, the routes are easy to navigate.
Coming into Manchester from the north, the lanes start just past Old Stone Fort State Archeological Park. The solid lines intuitively tell drivers how much space to leave bicyclers.
Markings get more complicated as one progresses up "Jail Hill" where the road narrows to cross the two-lane bridge. Two arrows and a bike silhouette designate the road at that point as a bike route, opening riders’ access to both lanes, only to funnel them down to the left car lane before the bike lane resumes below the King house and continues the intersection of McArthur Street and Hillsboro Boulevard.
Stay on track
To clarify, here are a few definitions concerning bicycle traffic markings.
According to Chattanooga’s bike plan, “Bike Lanes are dedicated lanes for bikes. Vehicular traffic is prohibited in bike lanes and must yield to cyclist when crossing a bike lane when necessary to turn.”
Conversely, “shared lanes (at Jail Hill Bridge here in Manchester) are travel lanes shared by motorists and cyclists. The Shared Lane symbol (picture HERE USE SHARROWED PIC) serves as a guide for where a cyclist should position themselves in the lane to avoid road side debris and door zones, and as a reminder for motorists to expect and share the lane with cyclists.
On all city streets, cyclists are permitted and should be expected. State law mandates that drivers allow three feet of space when passing a bicycle. And when not riding on a designated route, bicycles, by state law, are required to stay as far to the right near the curb as possible in most circumstances.
Remember that bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists. Also treat bike lanes like regular lanes that are too narrow to drive in.
Drivers: to make a right turn look first, yield to bicyclists, then merge into the bike lane before turning. Also never park in a bike lane and always look for bicyclists before opening the door.
A first step in the right direction
While Manchester’s new bike lanes aren’t as extensive as some of the state’s larger cities’ routes, the lanes are what planners anticipate as a first step toward increased non-vehicular traffic safety in the county.
“When they were planning to pave [Hwy. 41], Sara Elmore with TDOT came to my office and asked if we wanted to incorporate a bike lane if there was room,” said Manchester Building and Codes Director Jamie Sain.
“We got with St. John our city engineer. The state said they would pay for the work to do it, but the city had to pay for the plans.”
Sain said the city is hoping to add more bike lanes in the future. He said Manchester and Tullahoma have applied for a joint Community Transportation Planning Grant that determines the feasibility of bike lanes, pedestrian travel sidewalks on the major highways in the county.
“It’s a planning grant that we got. They’re going to be looking at projects to be done. That will be coming up in the next couple of months. We’ll get the amount awarded and what can be done with it,” Sain said.
Sain also noted that according to state requirements for the bike lane, the speed limit posted along Hwy. 41 will be reduced from 40 miles per hour to 35 miles per hour from Woodland Street heading north to the area of Hilltop Market.