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Friday, September 22, 2017

Why Media Reporting Matters When it Comes to Walkability

Link to article

Link to Nashville Pedestrian Death Registry

In Nashville, we have a pedestrian killed every 21 days.

Why You Shouldn’t Trust Media Coverage That Blames Pedestrians for Getting Struck

When a driver struck a 14-year-old girl in a crosswalk outside her Philadelphia-area high school last week, the local media pounced. Headlines highlighted police accounts that said the victim, Kelly Williams, was using FaceTime on her phone at the time of the crash.
Here’s how the local CBS affiliate led its story:
A 14-year-old girl was injured Wednesday afternoon in Abington when police say she walked right into the path of a passing car — because she was video chatting.
The implications were clear: Williams was at fault. She was irresponsible. No need to give any thought to how the driver’s actions contributed to the collision.

Local police went on to lecture people about the dangers of distraction while walking. “I just hope people will realize the dangers of being engrossed in your cellphone, or your tablet, or whatever you’re carrying, and not paying attention to what you’re doing,” said Abington Police Chief John Livingston.

A week later, Williams is still in the hospital recovering from severe injuries. And a very different account of what happened is emerging.

According to a report by the Philadelphia Inquirer, the man who struck Williams, James H. Clark IV, 32, was driving 21 mph over the speed limit — 46 in a 25 mph zone. In addition, she was “half way across a marked crosswalk” at an unsignalized intersection when she was struck — entirely in the legal right-of-way.

The driver told police he was in a hurry, glanced at his watch, looked up and saw a flash, hitting Williams. He is being charged with “reckless endangerment” and assault, and law enforcement is belatedly sending a much better message.

“Distracted driving and speed are a deadly combination,” District Attorney Kevin Steele told the Inquirer. “Drivers owe it to the community and to our young people to exercise extra caution and pay special attention to their surroundings in and around our schools.”

Still, why was the original account so wrong? Rather than wait until all the facts were gathered, police and local TV stations chose to assign blame to a gravely injured child. Wagging your finger at kids for using FaceTime must make for good ratings.
Leonard Bonarek at the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia says this kind of reporting is far too common when a driver hits a pedestrian:
The coverage of is unfortunately quite common in the media: implying that a 14-year-old who was walking exactly where she was supposed to be walking, in an area that most have been trained since before they can remember to believe is “safe,” was at fault for the tragedy. Many youth today don’t watch broadcast TV, and evening news viewership trends older every year, but treating this tragedy as a “kids these days” type of story does considerable disservice to our public discourse, while also causing additional pain to a family that must be suffering tremendously, and to a youth who may never fully recover from this incident.
More recommended reading today: The City Fix shares new research showing the productivity advantage of urban density, as well as how housing and transportation policy can ensure the benefits are broadly distributed. And the State Smart Transportation Initiative explains a new report that attempts to draw a clear distinction between the kind of congestion that helps cities and the kind that damages them.

How can you help?  Consider being a PACE Car in Walking Districts! 

I will have bumper stickers me at & I'll mail one to you.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Walking District Op-Ed!

Thanks to John Harkey who works tirelessly for better walking and better biking in Nashville...

How Nashville walking districts work

Recently, I needed to pick up my bike, which had been in the shop for repairs. It was 3 miles from my house to the bike shop so I decided to walk over.
As I walked out of Elmington Park I saw a new sign indicating I was entering a “Walking District.”
Walking district?
It is a new idea being implemented in three locations in Nashville including the Hillsboro West End Neighborhood, south and west of Vanderbilt University. The idea is to encourage walking by making it safer and more enjoyable in residential neighborhoods where sidewalks are few or where through-traffic is heavy.
The plan will introduce signage lowering speed limits to 20 mph on residential streets and 25 on collectors, from the current speed limit of 30 mph. Other traffic-calming features will be introduced, including stepped up enforcement, improved crosswalks at major intersections, educational flyers, educational sessions with neighbors and more.
So, what can you do to help implement this new idea?

Walk more 

If you live in or near the designated neighborhoods, or anywhere, walk more. Restaurants, theaters, grocery stores and a hardware store are all within walking distance for residents of this area, as is the city’s largest traffic destination, Vanderbilt University and Medical Center.
Your walking speed is typically 3 to 4 m.p.h., meaning a mile takes you 15 or 20 minutes to walk. Walking at the more vigorous 15-minute pace with a round trip of 2 miles gets you more than your minimum daily exercise requirement, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control. So, you get most of your daily exercise without a trip to the gym and while going where you need to go anyway.

When driving, become a pace car 

When I first heard the concept of “pace car,” I scratched my head. Are we running a race?
No, you are establishing good driving norms. A pace car is one that does not exceed the speed limit, even if other cars stack up behind you. Most Americans view the speed limit as a minimum rather than a maximum.
The pace car, in contrast, observes the speed limit, helping establish the new standard and a new way of looking at speed limits. You can even stick a card in your back window advertising that you are a “Walking District Pace Car.”
Cars are becoming more of a nuisance than a solution to getting around town in the denser parts of the city and near large employers like Vanderbilt. The walking district recognizes this development and encourages people to get out of their car and try walking. It also recognizes how vehicle speed kills. Recent studies have found that a pedestrian hit by a car at 20 mph has a 5 percent chance of killing the pedestrian, while the risk at 40 mph is more than 80 percent.
The walking district idea was brought to Nashville by Dr. Stacy Dorris, a Vanderbilt physician whose medical practice includes getting people to walk more.  Dr. Dorris also has a blog, Shade Parade, which highlights the walking experience in Nashville and she has established the Sidewalk Foundation to help fund walking projects.
Jenny Cheng and Nora Liggett of Hillsboro-West End Neighborhood Association developed the concept, and, with the support of Metro Councilmember Burkley Allen, worked with Metro Public works to bring the idea to fruition. Metro Public Works is collaborating with the Metro Nashville Police to implement the program.
John Harkey is a “mostly retired” health sector researcher, consultant and publisher.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

A right-of-way (ROW) is a right to make a way over a piece of land

Right-of-way also right-of-ways (1768)

  1: a legal right of passage over another person's ground.

From Wikipedia:  A right-of-way (ROW) is a right to make a way over a piece of land, usually to and from another piece of land. A right of way is a type of easement granted or reserved over the land for transportation purposes, this can be for a highway, public footpath, rail transport, canal, as well as electrical transmission lines, oil and gas pipelines.   A right-of-way can be used to build a bike trail. A right-of-way is reserved for the purposes of maintenance or expansion of existing services with the right-of-way. In the case of an easement, it may revert to its original owners if the facility is abandoned.

Below is a link to a page with links to Metro's interactive maps.  The first one on the list is the Parcel Viewer, which shows approximately the parcel lines for properties within Davidson County. 

Learn where your Right-of-Way is

My point being, where are the people of Nashville to walk if we keep obstructing our Right-of-Ways??? 

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Nashville Pedestrian Death Registry - Wayne Elam, DOD 3/28/2015

Wayne Elam

NPDR - Wayne Elam

Where my daddy was hit and killed, the city had 9 years of study that says what needed to happen at that exact intersection…and they were only doing rudimentary things – they never did the key and necessary things to improve safety. There have been numerous accidents and injuries at that intersection, my Daddy just happened to be the one body that left the earth as a result of the lack of safety at that intersection.

My Daddy was a military veteran…he literally spent time making sure that we were safer as a country. So for my Daddy to leave the earth under these circumstances – an unsafe intersection in the heart of Nashville – it’s just too much. Let me tell you, my greatest thought is that the street where my Daddy got killed, should not be named Garfield Street, but Wayne Elam Boulevard.

I agree.  The Nashville Pedestrian Registry is meant to go further.  Meant to delve into the lives of those lost while pedestrians in Nashville.  A simple walk can turn deadly if a city does not plan and produce safe and well crafted infrastructure.  These decisions affect the lives of EVERY citizen in this city.

Nashville Pedestrian Death Registry

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Non-ADA sidewalk structure - a 'good' example

Public Works Customer Service Request Form

Here is a good example of where a sidewalk in Nashville is not ADA compliant.  Imagine walking here with a stroller or a wheelchair.  You would have to enter the roadway to get by.

This is also a place where the right-of-way may be infringed upon.  The rock wall likely should have been set back a few feet to allow for a green buffer.

These are the kind of things that need to be reported to Public Works and the Council Person. 

The link above can be used to contact Public Works in Nashville.


PLEASE consider the right-of-way before building costly hardstructures and planting trees & bushes.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

16 Pedestrian deaths to date in Nasvhille - 16 too many. A few things you can do...

Just want to remind all Nashvillians that you can contact Public Works with questions in regards to walkability and the rules.  There has been a lot of energy around walkability lately - with sidewalk bill 493 (Link to Sidewalk Bill 2016-493) and the recently updated pedestrian law (Link to Pedestrian Bill 2017-740).

As we move forward in Nashville to improve our ability to simply take a walk, I want to caution you to understand where your right-of-way is and where you can build or plant.  When hardscapes and trees/bushes are in the public right-of-way, they infringe on the place where pedestrians are to be when there is not a sidewalk provided and they decrease our safety.

We have had 16 pedestrian deaths in Nashville this year (Nashville Pedestrian Death Registry).  Sixteen too many.  We all must do our part to create a safe space for our walkers.

***Link to an interactive map where you can understand where the right-of-way is on your property or on properties where you may walk:

***Link to Public Works - you can submit a request if there is a particular issue in you walking path:

If you know someone who has perished while on foot in Nashville, please contact us at:  Nashville Pedestrian Death Registry

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Another Piece on Wallking Districts!

NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -            
An effort to end pedestrian fatalities is taking shape across the Metro area.

Walking districts aimed at slowing drivers down have popped up in three different neighborhoods.

It is part of a pilot program, and is a new concept for Nashville. For the next six months, police and public works will study traffic patterns before deciding whether to make the changes permanent.

Neighbors say the concept is great. But, many believe more needs to be done to get drivers to slow down.

“These streets have been historically race tracks,” said Cleveland Park resident Cory Ripmaster.
Ripmaster enjoys walking with his family around the neighborhood. For years, he complained about drivers going too fast.

“What they do is they get in our neighborhood and they see an open road, and they push the gas pedal down," explains Ripmaster.

Now, a sign right across the street from his home warns drivers to slow down.
Cleveland Park, Hillsboro-West End, and the Una neighborhoods all have these same signs. They are designated walking districts.

Within the districts, speed limits on local residential streets are reduced to 20 mph from 30 mph. On residential collector streets, the speed limit was lowered to 25 mph from 35.
Metro public works heard complaints from residents. They hope this pilot program will make drivers more aware of people walking in these areas -- many of which include school zones.
Metro police say they will patrol the areas, reminding drivers of the new speed limits at first. But over time they will transition to writing tickets, if drivers continue to speed through the walking districts.

The goal of this pilot program is part of what's called Vision Zero -- aimed at eliminating all traffic fatalities.

Before and after data will be compared to determine what impact reducing speed limits had in these walking districts.