More people go car-less as Nashville’s traffic worsens

Katie Hoovler (Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – It’s pretty common to see people commuting on their bicycles in cities like New York and Washington. Some don’t even own a car.

But in Nashville? Well, you might not think it’s as common, but as our city grows, so does the number of people going car-less.

Cringe-worthy. Stressful. Exhausting. That’s how most of us would describe our drive into work, but not Katie Hoovler. She actually enjoys her commute.

“Someone asked me how long it takes to get to work. I said, ‘Forty minutes unless I’m listening to Beyoncé, then it’s 35 minutes,'” Hoovler said as she turns up the speaker on her bicycle.

Katie Hoovler (Photo: WKRN)

Hoovler is car-free. She either bikes to work or rides the bus. Beyoncé is her fuel.

She’s been without her car for almost a year now.

“I found out someone had hit my car when it was parked on the street. It just totaled it. I got the check from the insurance company and I was like, ‘I don’t want to put that into another car,’” remembers Hoovler. “So I put that into savings.”

Now, her savings account just keeps growing.

“I figured out I’m saving about $450 a month,” she told News 2. That number includes gas, basic maintenance, insurance, and car payments.

“When I did the calculations, I went out and bought a dress. I was like, ‘I deserve it!’ Hoovler told News 2.

(Photo: WKRN)

Her trip to work is on two wheels instead of four, and she’s not alone.

“More and more people are making the decision to go out and ride,” says Nora Kern, with Walk Bike Nashville. “You are getting the broad section of people, more women, people in their business suits going to work, picking up groceries.”

Participation in Walk Bike Nashville’s “Walk Bike University” has nearly doubled. In 2015, 250 people took the class, and then in 2016, 485 people participated.

The class teaches people how to make the transition to car-less or at least an alternative commute.

But to make those numbers grow even more, Kern says some major things need to change.

“We see the number one reason we hear from people why they don’t bike is because they don’t feel safe,” she said.

Nora Kern (Photo: WKRN)

Some areas are better than others, she added

“We also have some really great bike lanes downtown, Davidson Street bike lane has been really helpful,” Nora told News 2.

But major thoroughfares like pikes and state routes are extremely difficult to navigate

“We are really pushing for safe streets for everyone,” says Nora.

Mayor Megan Barry is listening. Her budget included $5 million for bicycle and $30 million for sidewalks.

But Kern explains it’s also important for drivers to take bikers seriously. State law says you should give the bicyclist in front of you at least 3 feet of space.

And although bikers or a bus may slow you down briefly, Hoovler says there is another way you can look at the delays.

“I look around the bus and there are 30 people on the bus. That’s 30 cars that aren’t on the road. So we may slow you down for 30 seconds, but in the end, that’s really helping with traffic,” Hoovler told News 2.

Nashville commuters know we need all the help we can get. If you’re interested in learning more about Walk Bike Nashville, click here.

Follow our Nashville 2017 coverage about the city’s growth, the issues that come with it, and how people are tackling them.