Research Released by NHTSA on 3-Foot-Passing Law Enforcement

In 2018, the City of Knoxville and nonprofit organization Bike Walk Knoxville partnered with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and TPO to conduct a study. The research focused on educating drivers and protecting the lives of bicyclists in Knoxville. The full study was released earlier this month.

Tennessee law and City of Knoxville ordinance require that drivers who are passing bicyclists give at least 3 feet of space. One challenge is making sure drivers are aware of the safety requirement, and another is enforcing the law to help keep people riding bicycles safe.

As part of this study, officers from the Knoxville Police Department outfitted their bicycles with technology to measure and record the distance of passing vehicles. They used these bicycles for a high-visibility enforcement campaign in which drivers who passed too closely were pulled over and given either warnings or citations.

Bike Walk Knoxville helped to recruit many of the civilian bicyclists who participated in the research. They rode in Knoxville for several months prior to the enforcement campaign with equipment on their bikes to collect data on passing distances. The information they collected helped to measure how driver behavior changed after the enforcement campaign.

The NHTSA researchers found that after the enforcement campaign, the average passing distance of drivers increased, and the share of drivers who passed within that dangerous 3-foot zone decreased.

For more information on this research, visit To see the report, visit the TPO’s page dedicated to bicycling and walking studies.

Three Transit Studies Underway

Knoxville-Knox County Planning received a grant from the Tennessee Department of Transportation to hire a consultant team to conduct three transit studies for the Knoxville Regional Transportation Planning Organization (TPO).

All three studies should be accomplished sometime late Summer of 2022. The Knoxville Area Transit (KAT) Study will be managed by KAT staff. More details about each of the three studies can be found below.

KAT Comprehensive Operational Analysis (COA)

The COA is focused on determining improvements needed for the Knoxville municipal transit system – KAT. The goals of the COA will be to help formalize service standards, identifying service gaps and additional services needed, defining transit corridors and transit priority areas, and creating a road map for transit stop infrastructure improvements. The COA will position KAT for future service improvements that will encourage ridership, enhance the rider experience, and make public transportation a viable and competitive option for all residents and visitors in the City of Knoxville. The KAT COA will have a robust public involvement process starting in late March of 2022.

Transit Coordination Study

This Study will include the regional transit providers Knox County CAC Transit, East Tennessee Human Resource Agency (ETHRA), and KAT. This Study will explore options for improving coordination among providers. For over 40 years, three separate transit systems have continuously served the Knoxville region. Despite decades of accomplishments and coexistence, there has been a growing need to: (1) improve coordination between the transit providers, (2) formalize coordination agreements to bring greater certainty and clarity to these relationships, and (3) settle long-standing debates regarding service area responsibility. This Study will concentrate on what type of short-term improvements can be made to increase coordination between the demand response transit services. Any potential long-term coordination strategies can be reviewed and recommended for further study.

Regional Transit Study

This Study will identify areas that might support higher capacity transit services throughout the region. The Knoxville region continues to see a growing interest in diversifying the overall transportation system by increasing public transit options. The aim of expanding public transit in the region is two-fold. First, to provide greater accessibility to the public within a defined area that can support public transit. Second, to connect these potential service areas to the greater region by linking major destinations and employment centers to where people live. This study will evaluate possible regional transit expansion opportunities that could occur over the next 5-10 years. Due to the limited budget, this evaluation will be high-level and technical in nature, resulting in a prioritized list of potential service areas for more detailed study.  

Keep checking for more information on the Coordination and Regional Transit Studies.

For more information on the KAT COA and to learn how to participate in the process visit

The TPO is a Metropolitan Planning Organization, which is an independent agency engaged in the performance of meeting the required federal transportation planning regulations for urbanized areas greater than 50,000 population. The TPO serves Anderson, Blount, Knox, Loudon, and Sevier Counties. Knoxville-Knox County Planning provides the professional transportation planning staff for the TPO.

Mobility Plan Overview

Mobility Plan 2045 was adopted in April, but we’re still talking about it! Staff created an interactive story map that details what’s in it and what it means for all of us living in the region. If you want a good condensed version of the plan and the process, be sure to check it out. Don’t forget to take the survey at the end to tell us what topics you’d like to learn more about and how you’d like us to share that information.

Community Meetings Scheduled for Alcoa Highway Corridor Study

Knoxville-Knox County Planning staff is undertaking a small area study for the portion of Alcoa Highway within Knox County. This work follows a design charette that was held by the East Tennessee Community Design Center in 2019. In 2020, the City of Knoxville and Knox County each approved resolutions for Planning to undertake a study to develop an approach and policies to envision and manage development along the highway. The final recommendations will look at land uses along the corridor, considering specific changes needed to spur that redevelopment and encourage retail, commercial, and increased housing.

A community meeting is scheduled for September 30, 2021, at 5:30 p.m. It will be held at the North Campus of Sevier Heights Baptist Church, 2939 Alcoa Hwy, Knoxville, TN 37920. The meeting will open with a short presentation followed by an open house.

In addition to this in-person meeting, a virtual meeting will also be held earlier that day. A presentation will be given, followed by time for questions, at 12:00 p.m. on September 30. Interested individuals can register to participate at

Draft Outreach Plan Available

The Outreach Plan fulfills federal requirements and serves as a working tool for TPO staff to refer to with each new plan and project. The last Outreach Plan update was adopted by the Executive Board in 2018. In this update, we have incorporated new outreach methods and noted the importance of flexibility and dedication to using new methods when possible.

The draft document is available for review and comment until October 10, 2021. If you have comments on the plan, please email Ally Ketron at or 865-215-3234 or comment in person at an upcoming TPO Technical Committee or Executive Board Meeting. Details on those meetings can be found at

TPO Welcomes AmeriCorps Member, Jace Swain-Crowley

Jace was born in Maryland, but spent his childhood split between Bartlett and Cordova, TN, just outside of Memphis. He stayed there until he moved across the state to Knoxville to attend the University of Tennessee. Jace graduated from UT in the spring of 2021 with a degree in geography and a minor in history. Through his coursework in geography, he developed a particular interest in geographic information systems (GIS).

Jace is also interested in the environment, and that curiosity helped him find AmeriCorps as he was deciding what to do after graduation. He was initially attracted to Knoxville’s CAC group because of their focus on the environment and recognized the program as an opportunity to grow professionally. When he came across the open position with the TPO he was eager to learn more about the position. With this opportunity he hopes to help UT students become more aware of AmeriCorps and the opportunities their programs offer.

During his time with the TPO, Jace will help with bike shop outreach, Bike Month, events like Parking Day and Tour de Lights, the Smart Trips program, and bicycle and pedestrian counts. He’s already started reaching out to local bike shops and is enjoying it. He recently shared that he hopes to foster more local outreach, especially at UT, to increase awareness of the TPO’s work.

Jace’s familiarity with GIS also gives him an opportunity to get involved in other projects with the TPO and Planning during his time with us. He’s particularly excited to learn more about transportation-related GIS work.

When he’s not in the office, you can find Jace running on the greenway, beer tasting, and playing video games. He’s also a fan of seeing movies, especially anything Marvel, in the theater. Jace happily reports that he’s enjoyed a few at the downtown Regal location in person since it reopened. We’re excited to have him with us this year and look forward to all his contributions!