Letter: Cycling the Rails

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602 S. Gay Street
2nd Floor
Knoxville, TN 37902

Has there been a push to convert existing railroad corridors in Knoxville that have fallen into disuse or disrepair into greenways? We still have a long way to go in terms of becoming a truly bike/pedestrian-friendly, ecologically sensible city, and in my experience of being a bicycle commuter in Knoxville, convenient and efficient greenways seem to work fantastically.

It’s hard to find definitive data online, but surely there must be centrally located railways that have not seen significant or profitable traffic for years, perhaps even decades. Especially in my home of South Knoxville, home of Ijams and the whole Urban Wilderness campaign, there are at least a few seemingly abandoned tracks that would provide safety and convenience to the many commuters, nature enthusiasts, and students that reside in the area as a dedicated transportation corridor for bikes and pedestrians.

Let’s be frank: The city of Knoxville needs improvement to become the outdoors destination it claims to be. It also happens to be the former mecca of the railroad universe, with a pre-existing set of mostly flat trails that minimally interfere with automobile traffic and bring together some of the most important and interesting areas of town.

Is this an unrealistic idea? Have there been any previous proposals for similar measures, and what were the outcomes? I would love to engage in proactive community discussion about this idea. Thanks for the time!

James Burke


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