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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Sidewalk Project #1 - Bowling Av, Nashville, TN

Bowling Av runs from Murphy Rd at its northern end, crosses West End Av, then travels south to terminate at Woodmont Blvd.   There is a novel written about it with a charming portrait of a home on its cover.  They sell it at Parnassus Books.  The house sits in a field of peacock blue - connected to nothing except the evergreens that hug its corners.  

The avenue shares some characteristics with this novel's cover as a good portion of it has homes with lawns that run directly up against the road without a pedestrian walkway.  More than half of Bowling has sidewalks but the stretch from Woodlawn to Woodmont is without.  

On an avenue such as Bowling, where the sidewalk abruptly ends, what is one to do if your intent is further on down the road?  T.C.A. 55-8-135 'Crossing at other than crosswalks' states that a pedestrian crossing a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway.  But what if you are not crossing the road - solely trying to walk down it?  

Does a pedestrian not have the right to walk in Nashville?

View facing North on Bowling at Woodmont.

Walking against traffic.

As an experiment, we attempted to walk north on Bowling starting at Woodmont tonight.  Being a large stroller with 2 kids, myself and a dog - we were not unobvious.  It was nearing 5pm and the golden hour light was upon us.  These latter elements certainly added to the challenge - arguably asking too much of this first walking experiment.  We made it exactly 11 minutes or 0.31 miles before I aborted the trial at Forrest Park.  Initially, my children thought it was pretty fun - they pointed at all the cars that passed.  Within minutes, a lady furiously flashed her lights at us.  It didn't feel like cars were honoring the 3' rule.  Then, a sizable SUV, driven by a teenager, came alarmingly close.  That was it - we bailed! 

According to T.C.A.55-8-136: 'Drivers to exercise due care'
(a) every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due car to avoid colliding with any pedestrian upon any roadway…
(b) every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care by operating the vehicle at a safe speed, by maintaining a safe lookout, by keeping the vehicle under proper control and by devoting full time and attention to operating the vehicle

According to T.C.A.55-8-136: 'Pedistrians on roadways'
(a) where sidewalks are provided, it is unlawful for any pedestrian to walk along and upon on adjacent roadway…
(b) where sidewalks are not provided or are obstructed, any pedestrian walking along shall, when practicable, walk only on the left side of the roadway or its shoulder facing traffic that may approach from the opposite direction

A pedestrian does, therefore, have the right to walk in Nashville but is it right for it to feel so unsafe?

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