The rainy spring weather did not stop a group of community members from enjoying what one rider coined a “VIP bike tour” of Chattanooga. The 3 Rides 3 ‘Hoods event was inspired by Jane Jacobs Walk. This national organization encourages cities across the US and abroad to honor urban activist Jane Jacobs by bringing neighbors together to explore their environs by foot, bike, and transit. 3 Rides 3 ‘Hoods was originally intended to include neighborhood bike rides with speakers at stopping points along the way in North Chattanooga, Downtown, and St. Elmo. Ominous skies in the north and heavy rains pushing their way up from the south caused Green Trips staff to reschedule and then retool the event.
Instead of riding through North Chattanooga, the group stayed at Outdoor Chattanooga and speakers discussed issues of interest in the area. Karen Hundt of the Regional Planning Agency described upcoming Riverwalk extensions to the Moccasin Bend National Park and through Downtown to St. Elmo; Jim Johnson, owner of BikeToursDirect, shared the history and progress of creating hiking and biking trails on Stringer’s Ridge; Lori Quillen of the Benwood Foundation discussed the challenge of maintaining diversity while improving the housing stock in Hill City; and Jenny Shugart, a former historic preservation planner, explained the role of the North Shore Design Review Committee and the challenges that arose with the Publix proposal. The mix of topics spurred the group to discuss the relationship between active transportation networks, housing, access to nature, and urban design.
Just as the conversation wound down, a gap in the rain allowed the group to set out on the Downtown portion of the ride. At the south end of the Walnut Street Bridge, the group met District 7 City Council Representative, Chris Anderson. He spoke from his perspective as the director of food and beverage for the Bluff View Art District, explaining the benefit of walking and biking traffic for businesses on the bluff. The group took advantage of having the ear of a city council representative and asked him questions about everything from city parks to backyard chickens.
With the skies darkening quickly, the group pedaled to Miller Plaza where they were able to take shelter on the stage just as the raindrops started falling. Blythe Bailey, Administrator of Chattanooga’s Department of Transportation, described how plans and designs that he and fellow students at UT Knoxville created under the guidance of Stroud Watson became a reality, helping to shape Miller Plaza and Park as the heart of Downtown Chattanooga. With the rain still falling in sheets, Karen Rudolph of the Lyndhurst Foundation opted to stay under the shelter of the Miller Plaza stage to share the story of the Main Terrain art fitness park.
The weather calmed just in time for the riders to complete the Downtown ride, passing through the Main Terrain park that they had just learned about on the way to the Chattanooga Market. After reading weather forecasts for a wet, gloomy afternoon, Green Trips staff decided to call off the St. Elmo portion of the ride. Although the ride did not go as planned, the participants appreciated the opportunity to “meet the great people who are working to make Chattanooga a better place” and “learn about the City’s history and present and future plans”. The ride organizers agreed wholeheartedly that they would like to continue hosting more frequent and informal neighborhood rides in the future.
If you are interested in participating in a neighborhood ride, keep an eye on our events calendar.