Follow by Email

Monday, November 12, 2018

Despite Budget Shortfall in Nashville, In-Lieu Fees for Sidewalks is Reduced

In addition to information coming out about Nashville's Public Works mismanagement of sidewalk directive, now the in-lieu fee for sidewalks has been discounted.  Watch our dream of a walkable city move further away...

When Sidewalk Bill 493 is activated, many times, the property owner can building the sidewalk OR pay an in-lieu fee to the city.  Nashville ends up with a piece of completed sidewalk OR money that goes into a pot used to augment sidewalk projects in that particular area.  But, the collected money is not nearly enough to cover the cost, according to Public Works, of an actual sidewalk. 

Despite a booming city, Nashville is experiencing a budget shortfall (see article in the Tennessean).  From the general talk about town, it sounds like we are handing financial incentives to developers and businesses which reduces our ability to cover our essential needs.  Why are we doing this?

Nashville's Public Works estimates that their cost to build sidewalks is significantly higher than the in-lieu fee and dependent on the quality of the road.  Local roads are estimated to cost $901/linear foot, collector roads are $1183/linear foot and arterial roads come in at the most expensive, and some of the highest in the nation, at $1336/linear foot.

All of us can agree that safety and accessibility of pedestrians is a basic civil right a city should provide its inhabitants.  We all have the right to walk. 

Know the facts:  We currently have 81% of our roadways in need of a sidewalk & a pedestrian death ever 2 weeks.  So WHY are we charging property owners such low fees instead of having them build the sidewalk? Many private contractors say they can do this job much cheaper than the city.  And, why have we actually DISCOUNTED the in-lieu fee recently?  It now stands at 11% of the cost the city says it needs to build sidewalks.  Let's not get even further behind...ask your council person to eliminate the in-lieu fee.  Let's build some sidewalks!

This in-lieu fee price was reduced in August 2018 from:
  • $178 per linear foot
  • to $153/linear foot

Sunday, November 11, 2018

For Great Public Transportation -> Step 1 = Sidewalks

 Walking is the most elemental form of mobility and sidewalks are a basic ingredient in a thriving public transportation system.    Without sidewalks, many cannot access the transportation system, such as the bus, safely or simply.

Without sidewalks, there is a barrier to use the bus.

This is why I was so happy to be invited to talk with the Music City Riders United (  This group is working hard to make riding the bus a better and more practical experience.  

I shared with them a few critical sidewalk facts that make riding the bus difficult for many.

- 81% of Nashville's roadways do not have a sidewalk
- There is a pedestrian death every 2 weeks in Nashville.  Many stories (see involve those trying to catch or exit their bus.
- We are not building sidewalks at an appreciable rate 
- The sidewalk grid in Nashville has an estimated date of completion ~ 1000 years from now
- The Sidewalk Foundation ( is raising funds to try to make a change in these statistics
- our city government could change this by allocating appropriate funding with a realistic completion date


Thursday, October 18, 2018

Can a Foundation Fund Sidewalks in City Where they are Lacking? AKA Nashville?

For full article:  The New Yorker - Shaking the Foundations

In dealing with HOW to BUILD MORE SIDEWALKS in Nashville for the last 5 years, it has become clear that a foundation is a solution.  A solution with some precedent

With this knowledge, The Sidewalk Foundation, a 501 c 3, has been created and is taking donations, directly turning them into micro-grants to those who build their sidewalk triggered by Sidewalk Bill 493.  We currently have (4) $500 grants available - 2 citywide and 2 for Bowling Av.  This project is to express the enduring citizen THANK YOU to those who build their sidewalk instead of paying the in-lieu fee. 

That being said, the major criticism expressed in regards to this non-profit is that sidewalks are the responsibility of cities.  A city is to provide safe access for all.  Private citizens should not be funding them. 

At our current pace, it will be 1000 years to completion of our sidewalk network in Nashville.  81% of our roads do not have a sidewalk. 

Our government funding level and commitment to walkability is wanting. 

For better or for worse, it seems "the more government spending gets squeezed, the more important nongovernment spending will become'.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

#DontLetYourBuilderTalkYouOutOfBuildingTheSidewalk Nashville

Sidewalks are expensive but truly needed.  Unfortunately, the great majority (81%) of Nashville's roadways are like this one with literally no place for a person (not in a car) to be. 

One of the best features of the Sidewalk Bill 493 is that once a piece of sidewalk goes in on a block face, the in-lieu fee, which allows for payment into a fund instead of building the sidewalk, is no longer an option.  Unfortunately, this in-lieu fee has recently been weakened as an agent of change - the cost has been reduced from $178/linear foot (lf) down to $153/lf - despite the current city estimates quoted below being significantly higher. 

One thing we can all do then is to build the sidewalk required of us by law.  A contractor can build the sidewalk for significantly less then the cost quoted below.  This act alone would be a huge gift to the city and a gift to every single citizen as we are all pedestrians. 

The Sidewalk Foundation has (2) $500 micro-grants available to any homeowner who builds their sidewalk when the Sidewalk Bill is triggered Nashville-wide and (2) specifically reserved for Bowling Av (Sidewalk project #1).  Please contact us for more information.



Monday, October 15, 2018

Nashville's Sidewalk Tracker - a visualization of why you are not currently walking from A to B on a new sidewalk

I'm often asked, 'where are the new sidewalks.'  Despite increases in sidewalk funding, our large city-county of 532 sq miles still feels void of decent walkability. 

 It is arguably hard to tell that we are making strides in timely fashion.

  This map is clear example why Nashvillians are not feeling progress.

These tiny blips and dots represent complete (green), under construction (red), scheduled construction (orange), in design (purple) and planned (blue) . 

Monday, October 8, 2018


Shade Parade began 5 years ago with the idea that better infrastructure (ie more sidewalks in Nashville) would increase walking (the 'parade' part) but that shade could too (ie more tree cover because Nashville is HOT!) is a critical piece of solving our walking woes.

Nashville is experiencing rapid growth and with it quick depletion of our tree canopy.  This is felt most acutely in neighborhoods such as the Nations where whole blocks seem to have been torn down and rebuilt in the blink of an eye.  'Just since 2008, the tree canopy in the urban core has dropped from 28 percent to 24 percent, a loss of roughly 9,000 trees a year'.  For a pedestrian, this tree canopy loss means exposure to the elements including the searing summer sun.  As anyone can imagine, arriving at your destination drenched with sweat is never optimal.  

'Nashville’s mayor, David Briley, announced a campaign to restore and enlarge the city’s tree canopy called Root Nashville.  Root Nashville will be overseen by the city and the Cumberland River Compact, an environmental nonprofit, and funded through a combination of public, corporate, foundation and private dollars. Together with several municipal departments and other nonprofit organizations, the initiative aims to plant 500,000 trees in Davidson County by 2050'.


(AKA future site of sidewalks!)


More Trees, Happier People

When cities grow, green space dies. Replanting it has been shown to lift the human spirit.

Click to read full article --- NY TIMES ARTICLE

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

At 20 mph, a pedestrian has a 95% chance of survival if struck. 20 is plenty on residential streets.

20 is Plenty.
At 20 mph, a pedestrian has a 95% chance of survival if struck.
At 40mph, the chance of survival is reduced to 20%.

As speed increases, your cone of vision narrows.

20 is plenty on residential streets.

20 is plenty when passing pedestrians.


Remember - pedestrians are to walk against traffic (not with traffic).  It's the law.