Tag Archives: trains bikes and cars

Guest Post: Multimodal commuting in Nashville

Today’s guest blog post is from my friend Whitney, a dedicated member of the Nashville Bike Brunch gang. She had an adventure in multimodal commuting last Friday, when she used car + B-cycle + Music City Star to get to her office in (Hip) Donelson. Definitely something I’ve never done before! 

On Friday, I went on a bit of an adventure. My car had to go to the shop for the day, and it turned out that none of my coworkers who live in my neighborhood were available to take me to work. Trisha has mentioned before that Nashville has quite a car culture, but it does have a few public transportation options. Unfortunately for me, they’re all designed to shuttle people in and out of the downtown area, whereas I live outside the downtown core and work in the suburbs. But since the car dealership was close to downtown, I decided to use this opportunity to try out a couple of these options to get to work.

I’d always been curious about the Music City Star, a commuter train that runs in the mornings and the evenings and serves the “east corridor” of the Nashville metropolitan area. Its western terminus is downtown on the riverfront, and the train makes four stops before reaching its eastern terminus in Lebanon, about 30 miles outside of Nashville.

To get to the train station, I rented one of the new B-Cycles. There is a kiosk at Music Circle, one block from the dealership, and another at the train station. After an easy walk to Music Circle, I checked out a bike, which was a very simple process, scraped some frost off the seat, and hit the road.


I knew this would be the easy part, since I’ve ridden downtown on Demonbreun many times before and it’s downhill all the way. And the construction of Nashville’s new convention center on that road slows the traffic considerably. But I was surprised at the lack of traffic at this time of day. Even the dreaded section where Demonbreun passes over I-40 and I-65 (where off-ramps turn into cross streets and cross-streets turn into on-ramps) was very stress-free. And I was excited to see the hustle and bustle of downtown Nashville on a weekday morning.


When I reached the train station, I simply popped the bike back into the kiosk and went inside to warm up before the train arrived 10 minutes later. It was amazing to see all of the commuters who use the train to get downtown from the suburbs. Dozens of people poured off the train at 8:15, the last downtown stop of the morning. Going east, however, I shared a carriage with only two other people.


I was the only person to get off the train at my stop—in fact, I don’t think it would have stopped there at all if I hadn’t told the conductor where I needed to go. A coworker kindly picked me up at the station and drove me to work.

I barely had time to turn around a take a photo before the train continued on its way

In the evening, I repeated the process—caught the train, rented a bike…and then, as I said, getting to the station was the easy part. The ride back to Music Circle is entirely uphill. And here in Nashville it’s completely dark by 5:30. Evening rush hour is evidently much busier than morning rush hour, there are no bike lanes on Demonbreun, the B-Cycles are heavy cruisers with only three speeds, and remember that the day was freezing. So…I didn’t quite make it to Music Circle. By the time I got just over halfway, I was huffing and puffing pretty violently. Looking ahead, I saw the hills I still had to climb; looking to my right, I saw a B-Cycle kiosk, and I decided to give in: I returned the bike and walked the rest of the way back, just over half a mile. I got to the dealership just as they were closing and gratefully hopped in my car.

It was a really gratifying and educational experience, and now is the time I’m supposed to draw some conclusions about this experience. I guess they are as follows:

1.) The Music City Star is amazing. It gave me a strong desire to move downtown and train/bike commute to work every day.

2.) Biking south out of downtown is difficult in the best of cases and really intimidating at night. A safer and/or easier option is needed, even if it’s just a bike lane on Demonbreun.

3.) Though the B-Cycle is a convenient option, they should consider offering seven-speeds rather than three-speeds in hilly Nashville.

3.) Working in the suburbs doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doomed to a life of sitting in traffic.

5.) There are more people voluntarily using public transportation in Nashville than I ever thought!

{Thanks, Whitney!  I have yet to try the Music City Star—maybe a trip to the outlets in Lebanon is in order. Any multimodal commuters out there? Does your city make it easy for you?}

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