Electric bikes on Nashville greenways

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Electric bikes | Photo via Unsplash

Electric bikesor e-bikes — are growing increasingly popular in Nashville, leading city officials to evaluate use on greenways.

But first — what are e-bikes, and are they currently permitted on greenways?

  • State law designates e-bikes into three classes: Class 1 (pedal-assisted), Class 2 (not pedal-assisted), and Class 3 (pedal-assisted up to 28 mph).
  • Class 1 and 2 e-bikes are permitted on Nashville’s greenways under state law, but can be regulated by local government.
  • The speed limit for all bikes is 15 mph.

🚲 How we got here

In August, Metro Council passed legislation tasking NDOT to evaluate electric bicycles on Nashville’s greenways. The department, in partnership with Metro Parks and other groups, surveyed residents and studied e-bike usage in Nashville’s peer cities.

📋 Study and survey results

The draft study reviewed how other cities have regulated e-bikes on greenways, including Raleigh and Seattle, and found that most allow e-bikes with speeds between 10-20 mph. The bikes are also permitted on trails in Memphis and Chattanooga.

Metro Parks’ Electric Bicycle Greenway Access survey received 2,691 survey responses from Oct. 29-Nov. 30.

  • 63% use greenways at least once a week
  • 56% feel unsafe on greenways — the top reason is cyclists at 33%
  • 29% own or have used an electric bicycle
  • Survey participation was high in neighborhoods like Sylvan Park, The Nations, and Lockeland Springs.

✍️ Recommendations

At Wednesday’s Greenways and Open Space Commission meeting, the advisory board considered survey feedback and drafted recommendations to Metro Parks.

  • No policy changes are recommended at this time.
  • The commission does recommend a broader infrastructure study to address safety concerns raised in the survey.

Want to see additional survey results or learn more about e-bike usage in other cities? View the 93-page study in its entirety.