Music City Bikeway

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Summary

Music City Bikeway is a 26-mile route that includes five greenways, bike lanes and signed shared roadways. The ride ranges from bucolic rides on a river's edge to sidewalk and street riding in the busy downtown area. The west-east route starts at the Deep Wells entrance to Percy Warner Park, meanders through downtown, and finishes at J. Percy Priest Dam.

Written by

Amy Eskind

Destination Distance From Downtown

9.2 miles

Difficulty

2 of 5 diamonds

2

Time To Complete

At Your Leisure

Seasonality

Year Round

Fees Permits

None

Land Website

Link to Website

Review

The Music City Bikeway is 26 miles of incredibly varied terrain. From a sharrow painted on a busy city street to a bucolic winding path along a riverbank, the bikeway has a little of everything. 
What Makes it Great
The Bikeway stretches clear across the city. Conceived as a way of connecting five separate greenways, the route can be enjoyed in segments or in its entirety. Picking up the bikeway close to home allows bikers to pedal to their greenway destination, which is probably the most popular use.
Just over half of the bikeway - 14.1 miles - is paved greenway. This is a paved walking and biking trail completely removed from vehicular traffic. Seven miles of the bikeway consists of bike lanes on the side of the road, and five miles is shared roadway with no delineated bike lane. Who Will Love It
Bikers of all ages can be seen pedaling through the city on the bikeway. Families flock to Shelby Bottoms Greenway for its relatively flat paved trails. Shelby Bottoms Nature Center, with its shaggy green roof and natural history programs and exhibits, is always a draw, and a perfect stop along the way. Barbie bikes, red wagons and tricycles are popular at the Lebanon Road Trailhead which winds down to a flat path along the riverbank, the Stones River Greenway. The bikeway finishes at J. Percy Priest Dam, 130 feet high, producing 70 million KW hours of electricity annually. It's rather noisy from highway traffic here, so it's not a peaceful place to linger. But before you leave, it's perfectly appropriate to finish the ride, look up, and yell, "Dam!" The bikeway is not without its faults. Signage is sometimes lacking or confusing, leaving riders to guess where the bikeway begins at Deep Wells, and to guess again when navigating around a downtown construction site the covers the path. Greenway riding can also be frustrating, forcing bikers to navigate around walkers and joggers with dogs and strollers, all with the right of way. If given a barren stretch and the chance to really fly, it's not going to happen anyway. Greenways maintain a 15 m.p.h. speed limit.
Street riding on this route is more comfortable where there are delineated bike lanes, and even, in one small section, a buffered bike lane. Street riding feels risky in sections with no accommodation for bikes, as when a simple sign on the side of the road is all you get. At one point along Charlotte Avenue, the bike lane is surrounded by traffic on the left and a turning lane on the right, making it possible to have cars and trucks on both sides of that narrow bike lane. In the downtown area, the bikeway takes riders onto the sidewalk - definitely precarious, especially when there are throngs of tourists milling about. Yet the most harrowing part of the bikeway has to be riding from First Avenue to Third Avenue on Lower Broadway. Depending on the time of day, horse-and-carriage rides, throngs of tourists and musicians, and impatient drivers might make this 1/10-mile feel very long on a bike. Directions and Parking
Because this is a citywide route, there are many places to get on and off. Trailheads include: Deep Wells, Richland Creek, Cumberland River, Heartland Park, Lebanon Road (in Kohl's parking lot), YMCA, Two Rivers Park, and J. Percy Priest Dam. Many of these are detailed on their own in the RootsRated database.
The Deep Wells Trailhead is approximately 10 miles from downtown. Note that the bikeway goes right through downtown and can be picked up there as well. There's map and directions online.

Location

Music City Bikeway

Deep Wells Trailhead, Highway 100
Nashville, TN,
36.069637, -86.897306

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