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Bicyclist fears Grigsby Chapel ‘islands’

A Farragut resident appeared before Farragut Municipal Planning Commission to take issue with the planned Grigsby Chapel Road traffic-calming islands.

Eric Nichols, a retiree, told FMPC members he often bicycles to the post office, grocery store or Turkey Creek.

“Normally, I will try to stay on residential streets as much as possible. Residential streets provide a little bit more safety for bicyclists,” Nichols said.

Nichols added he feared the traffic calming islands planned for Grigsby Chapel would be a hazard to cyclists.

“Cars are illegally passing today, and this would force them to illegally pass bicyclists,” Nichols said, adding cars often pass him in the turning lane now.

The elimination of the turning lane would force motorists to pass him too closely.

Nichols asked the Town to consider three options to make the project safer for cyclists.

“The consideration I ask is that the islands be narrow enough to allow cars, even though they’re going to probably be passing illegally, to give me the three-foot clearance,” Nichols said.

Town Engineer Darryl Smith said most of the islands were short in length, meant to “prevent passing in the center turn lane.”

“Motorists are just going to have to hang on there and wait a minute until they pass the island.

“Vehicles will be able to go around a bicyclist anywhere there’s not an island,” he added.

FMPC Chair Robert “Bob” Hill said motorists aren’t known for their patience.

“Then they will need to launch their car across that island, and good luck,” Smith said.

Nichols also asked that instead of the proposed traffic calming islands or the current center turn lane, two bike lanes be created on either side of the road.

Turning vehicles would slow the traffic on Grigsby Chapel, a major goal for the islands.

“In order to provide bike paths, we would have to provide four feet on each side, which would eliminate the center turn lane,” Smith said.

“That’s probably not a good idea … eliminating the center turn lane would be very difficult for the amount of traffic we have on Grigsby Chapel,” he added.

Grigsby Chapel resident Michael Bates said he often rides his bike, but makes a point to cycle on sidewalks and greenways.

“There is an issue I think the islands will help us take care of, help us resolve: there is a lot of passing that takes place,” Bates said.

“I ride my bike as well. … I utilize the sidewalk and the greenway system as much as possible,” he added.

Nichols' final request was that the project be abandoned.

Hill asked, “before we commit this thing to asphalt and concrete, we ought to examine the comments that Mr. Nichols has made.”

Mayor W. Edward “Eddy” Ford III explained the project already had been debated and approved by both FMPC and the Farragut Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

“We had several hearings on the subject … what we have come up with are engineering recommendations and this has been adopted by this Planning Commission and by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.”

Smith said he had already advertised for construction bids.

“Mr. Smith is proceeding with the contract after all those steps,” Ford said.

“I’m asking you to consider the bicyclists on this latest project, but in general, I would ask that the Planning Commission take bicycling more into consideration in your planning,” Nichols said.

“We do try to accommodate bicyclists on any of the newer road projects,” Smith said.


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