Monday, May 10, 2010

An Open Letter to the Franklin Police Department

Jackie Moore
Chief of Police
City of Franklin, TN

Dear Chief Moore:

According to the Tennessee Department of Transportation, a bike lane is "A portion of a roadway which has been designated by striping, signing and pavement markings for the preferential or exclusive use of bicyclists."

Now, that's kind of wimpy language, so I'd really like to know what your interpretation on this description is when I see this:

This is a bike lane in McKay's Mill, in Franklin. Here's a closer view of the back of this car, just in case you'd like to know what this car's license tag is. I don't know if this is enough evidence for you or one of your officers to use to issue a ticket, but just in case ...

As I'm sure you are aware, McKay's Mill is chock-a-block with bike lanes. Almost every street in this lovely planned community has bike lanes. If I were looking for a home in Franklin, and the realtor showed me McKay's Mill, I might almost think that it is a Cycling-Friendly Community.

But if the realtor showed me a house there this past Saturday, I might instead think that McKay's Mill must not have a Home Owner's Association with by-laws, either, since there are lots of cars parked in front of the houses. This is the kind of thing that HOA's often will send a nasty letter to the homeowner about after a couple of infractions.

And until I discovered how mealy-mouthed the law in Tennessee is about bike lanes, as a prospective home buyer I might also begin to question the effectiveness of law enforcement in Franklin.

So, I'm asking you to take a stand, and have your officers maybe write a couple of tickets for these illegally-parked cars. They do this in a lot of other states when cars park in the bike lanes, and I think it would show real support to cyclists in middle Tennessee if the Franklin Police Department would do the same.

By the way, lots of Police Departments like to write tickets because the fines help fund the department's operations. Sending one officer through McKay's Mill two or three times a week would easily net the department money from 20-30 parking tickets.

If you think that I'm exaggerating, here's what I saw just biking down Oxford Glen to Liberty Pike to McEwen just this past Saturday. I'm not even going to mention the fact that I had to swerve around these vehicles regularly, pulling back into the "car" lane -- an action that could have caused an accident. Well, okay, I just mentioned it anyway.

But, back to the scofflaw vehicles, just waiting for $100 tickets:


Now, yes, this might irritate the owners of these cars, but then they shouldn't be breaking the law to begin with, should they? And think of the goodwill that this would earn you from cyclists! We like the Franklin Police Department a lot, anyways, because you all have always been very nice to us. But if you can get these cars out of our bike lane, we will like you even more.

So, this is a win-win for you. Criminals (or at least unlawful vehicles) off the street (well, out of the bike lane), happy citizens, safer roads, and revenue for your department.

Respectfully submitted, 



  1. Please keep us updated on any response you get from Chief Moore or any law enforcement representative. This is a state-wide problem and perhaps one that we can work together to improve.

    Jonell Johnson

  2. Parking in bike lanes in metro Nashville is explicitly illegal. Public works said the law was too vague so city council fixed it. Franklin should fix it too.
    Now if you happened to hit a car in the dark, you might have a civil suit for the parker creating an unexpected hazard for bicyclists.