On Saturday, April 19, Boys Scouts will install bike racks at several downtown locations, including Tomato Head, Capitol Coffee, Professional Hair Designs and the Blount County Public Library.
Keith Webb, whose son Scott is a member of the troop, helped the group settle on this project after he learned Maryville College bought more than 20 racks through a state grant with Knoxville Transportation Planning Organization in 2007. “They were the first ones to take advantage of the program,” he said.
The TPO grant pays for 80 percent of the cost of the bicycle and the business is billed for 20 percent of the rack cost plus shipping. “The grant covers the cost of the rack, not the installation so we wanted to make it easer for businesses and organizations to take advantage of the program by offering installation service through Boy Scout Troop 87 out of Maryville at Broadway United Methodist Church,” he said.
Webb said 12 scouts initially signed up to help install the racks and he hopes more volunteers will help put in more racks. “This is more than just these four bike racks. We’re talking about bike parking all over Maryville,” he said. “We’d like 100 bike racks installed in Blount County this year. We’re trying to promote people buying more racks.”
Webb realized there needed to be more amenities for bicycle riders during a lunch break this past January. “I went to Tomato Head to have lunch on my bicycle. When I arrived at Tomato Head there were seven bicycles chained to trees, chairs and rails,” he said.
At that point, Webb asked manager Jeffrey Vincent about installing some bicycle racks. Co-owner Scott Partin asked how many could be placed in front of the store. “They were extremely interested and I informed them of the grant through Knoxville Transportation Planning Organization that pays for 80 percent of the cost of the rack,” he said.
With Partin’s permission, he went to speak with the City of Maryville about installing racks.
He also mentioned the idea to management at the Blount County Public Library. “Because of my utilitarian cycling, I ride my bicycle to places like the library on the creek side. I saw bicycles chained to benches and rails,” he said.
Webb said he spoke with Kathy Pagles to see if she and others at the library were interested in the bike rack program. “She worked through friends of the library, they appropriated the funding,” he said..
In conversations with Health Claiborne at Capitol Coffee, Claiborne told Webb he wanted a rack. “Heath wanted to provide bicycle parking and subsequently we have to have racks at Capitol Coffee,” Webb said.
When Webb was invited to a Downtown Association meeting to tell the members about what he was doing, he spoke with Lee Ann Henry, owner of Professional Hair Designs just off Church Avenue. “LeeAnn approached me and said she was interested in promoting bicycle use in the city of Maryville,” he said.
Webb said he only hopes getting more racks downtown will encourage more people to ride. “This is about the message of getting racks and getting more people riding bicycles,” he said.
Webb said there is still grant money available for bike racks. For more information, call Webb at 382-9572 or reach him via the internet firstname.lastname@example.org