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Friday, January 31, 2014

David Byrne & Bill Cunningham - What's Not to Love about these Pedestrians?






This blog is about sidewalks.  Particularly, sidewalks in Nashville, Tennessee.  It is about making Nashville more walkable, more pedestrian friendly.  About increasing interest in getting out on your feet for your travels.  About the richness of just getting out there…




David Byrne, from the Talking Heads, began riding his bicycle as his primary mode of transportation in the early '80s.  While traveling, he can often be spotted out and about on his bike.  My husband, Andy Proctor, who loves music, saw him after his show at the Ryman with St. Vincent tooling around downtown Nashville on his bike.  









And, who could truly be more darling than Bill Cunningham from the New York Times.  He is often seen riding his bicycle, too.  










Although I spent 5 years of my life almost exclusively riding my bicycle for transportation while living in Chicago, I found it a bit more harrowing while living in NYC.  The other option for transportation, the subway, was so easy, in all weather types, that it became my preferred mode of transportation second to my own feet.  NYC has since made significant strides in becoming more bike friendly with new dedicated bike lanes and Citibikes to borrow. 

In 2003, I moved to Nashville to go to medical school at Vanderbilt.  Thankfully, I had purchased a Subaru wagon on ebay to haul my few possessions as I was abruptly faced with a less than friendly pedestrian environment. The city blocks were huge and blazing hot!  Many ended in a blind cul-de-sac without a cut-through.  The sun beat down as there was so little shade to cover what sidewalks were available…These are my 1st impressions of Nashville as a walker.

My 1st home in Nashville was between 39th and 40th one block south of Charlotte Av.  I frequently walked to the Richland Library, Southern Thrift, the post office and to Bobby's Dairy Dip.  Charlotte Av has wide sidewalks.  It certainly lacked tree coverage, had a propensity to gather strange piles of litter and I did not appreciate the strangely common catcalls but, by Nashville standards, pretty easy to walk around upon.  

In 2003, bicycle traffic was still pretty unusual.  I commuted many days to Vanderbilt on my bike without seeing another bicyclist.  Things in Nashville are really very different now - daily I see commuters on a bikes.  The city has put in the infrastructure and promoted bicycle awareness.  





These kind of images are now fairly common and understood by drivers in Nashville.







Shade Parade hopes to help change Nashville to become more walkable as this is the ultimate way to commute and interact.

What could be easier than putting on your shoes?












Thursday, January 30, 2014

Eye Candy or the Importance of Amusement While Walking About


As anyone who has spent time in New York City knows you can be entertained just by walking around and looking.  Wonderful eye candy abounds.  The people are beautiful, window displays are cutting edge and the architectural details lovely.  Infrastructure was NOT an afterthought here.  Not to mention the kinetic frenzy of just life on the streets…it is hard not to walk a little further just to continue to be a part of it all.  

Here in Nashville, a walk is typically more of a sedate affair unless you are attempting to walk along one of our more busy streets without a sidewalk.  Then, you can feel a certain life threatening pressure that is less than comfortable and a whole lot less interesting than a typical walk in most major cities.  







Until recently…










I have been following this house for years at 734 Jackson Blvd.  It is original for Nashville and was drawn by Larry Woodson.  The landscape architects, Kaiser Tribue, did a unique plan.  My husband, Andy, did the interior hardscapes (Proctor Marble & Granite).  We ended up using Larry & Kaiser Tribue for our recent home remodel.  

So, I went by the house a lot just to look…When one day I saw the beginnings of the artwork above and was stunned!  I had heard the home owners were showing movies on the large flat expanse in front but I never expected something so radically beautiful in Nashville.  

But, you see, and this is proof, Nashville is changing.  


'It’s not traditional. It’s a different kind of art. You don’t go somewhere and see it on purpose. Also, this is Belle Meade. People don’t expect to see it here'.


To experience the full effect, I encourage you to walk by…




For more information - you can follow on Facebook at:  
 outside734

For more about the artists, visit Jeff Jacobson’s blog at http://www.weirdocult.com and Joey Nix’s blog at http://joeynix.wordpress.com

Sources:
http://nashvillearts.com/2013/05/07/street-art-graffiti-in-belle-meade/











Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Sidewalk Project #1, Bowling Av, Brighton to Woondmont Av, Another Update…

In regards to right-of-ways/easements on Bowling - I spoke with Rick Kirkpatrick at Public Works on 1/22/2014.  According to Rick, 'right-of-way is not an issue'.  He stated that right-of-ways are very rarely a problem in Nashville - 98% of the time 'not an issue'.  





He quoted an estimate of 1.2M for the completion of the Bowling sidewalk to Woodmont Av and believed it was for one side of the street - not both.  Main expense would be in moving utility poles and changes need to 'decorative' items such as stone walls.  In addition, drainage would need to be addressed.  

Lastly, he said that since the demand in this area is low - it does not score high on the priority index making it unlikely to be started any time soon.  

My next thought was to look up parcel information on each property that would be effected.  This will provide information on owner and also a place to draw or list possible obstructions.  Then, I thought I would write to each owner and gauge their interest in a sidewalk and their willingness to move/change their hardscapes to allow placement of sidewalk if the sidewalk could be completed.  I would also like to gauge interest in donations to this cause as I think many people would be willing to help match funding in order to have a sidewalk.  

I have recently been reading about Walk Scores and their impact on both individual home owners and to local governments.  A one point increase in Walk Scores appears to equate to about a $3000 increase in home value for most metropolitan areas.  For local governments, heavily dependent on higher tax revenues via increased property values, this appears to be a win-win.  

The Walk Score for Bowling - the southern expanse without sidewalks - is 31 with a bike score of 36 - considered car dependent.   When compared to the walkability of Bowling, where sidewalks line both sides of the street, the Walk Score jumps to 51 with a bike score 66 and is considered somewhat walkable.  If the increase of $3000/one pt in Walk Score is to be believed - increasing walkability to the level of the north side of Bowling on the south end would increase property values by $60k.  That would be a significant boon for homeowners and local governments.  

I do have to say that I am sort of suspicious that the right-of-way is a little more complicated that described above…








Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Rachel Domm for Shade Parade Nashville

Rachel Domm has graciously agreed to help Shade Parade create a logo.  We couldn't be more pleased.  She is a great designer and artist & you should take the time to view her work at the hyperlink below.  

Originally, she is from near Nashville - Columbia, TN - so has a clear link to our goal of a better Nashville.  























Window art is particularly appealing to Shade Parade Nashville - anything that increases amusement while walking…





























Monday, January 27, 2014

Smile




Have you ever noticed that, when people are exercising, they often look like this?  

It is so lovely that you cannot help smiling back.  







It is terribly difficult to be grumpy when your body is in motion.

Nashvillians, I dare you to just put on your shoes and go…






Sunday, January 26, 2014

Photographs by Denise Schatz - Views From the Sidewalk or Why Serendipity Matters



For a long time, little respect has been given to walking. 





'Walkability is at the heart of urban vibrancy - short blocks, population density & diversity and mix of uses, building types and ages that all play out in a "sidewalk ballet" - Jacobs, 1961.






'Implied opportunities for serendipitous interactions' are an appeal of walking around one's city.















The creation of a walkable landscape is both a function of public and private intentions.  





Photos by Denise Schatz (from the book NIH NIH, Miniature Garden 2014)








Sources:  

Joe Cortright, Impressa, Inc., for CEOs for Cities.  (2009).  Walking the Walk:  How Walkability Raises Home Values in U.S. Cities

Jacobs, J. (1961). The Death and Life of Great American Cities. New York: Random House

Nih Nih.  Haikus by Jamie Stewart, Drawings and Photos by Denise Schatz, Insert by Casey Cook.




Saturday, January 25, 2014

Shade Parade Nashville Hearts NYC







Why does Shade Parade Nashville love New York?





Without even trying, goal of greater than 10k steps per day is easily accomplishable.  Walk scores of 87.5 and greater.  America's most walkable city.  Incredibly amusing with loads of visually interesting things to see.  On a grid.  Numerous parks, benches, plazas.  

Everywhere you look - people walking.





As Nashvillian's travel and benefit from the ease of walkability in other cities - maybe they will return to demand more walkable landscapes here









Friday, January 24, 2014

Sidewalk Project #4, My House

Ok, you want sidewalks? 








So, put one in front of your house. 
Or, can you?





Above is a picture of my front yard - typical of most in Nashville.

The area in front of most homes, where a sidewalk would be placed, is located in a right-of-way - an easement - technically owned by the city. 


In order to respect this, my proposed plan was to build a regulation sidewalk with the dimensions and qualification Public Works deemed necessary, funded by me and created by my contractor.
 
'In the 17 years I have worked here, this is a new one', was the honest response from Public Works.

My contractor met Roy and Mike from Public Works, Permits Office, at my house to evaluate it for sidewalk placement. 




Numerous people have warned me that the sidewalk issue is complex in Nashville.  

  Just a few quotes from our discussion

  
- not as simple as it seems
- won't be able to park out front
- not advisable
- will loose all your trees
- biggest issues is drainage
- water will run onto neighbors yard
- may get sued.  Water will run onto street and if someone hydroplanes...
- water meter would need to be raised, water line may possible need to be elevated
- would need a water study
- sidewalk would need to be elevated so its grade is towards the road…would need a lot of fill
- impractical
- zero % chance that Public Works would fund sidewalks on this street
- if done to standards, could not use a permeable concrete (such as at Convention Center downtown Nashville)
- could be pointed at as a crazy idea
- a 'sidewalk to nowhere'
- would not look great
- need to cut down the trees
- neighbors would not like it
- liable if you build it
- kills trees
- between 25-30K to complete





 Then, they turned to me & asked why I wanted to do such a thing…

A sidewalk in front on my house - a small strip with no connection to other sidewalks is not ideal.  I hear what they are saying above.  


But, I believe in sidewalks.  Nashville needs them. But, progress on sidewalk creation has been woefully slow.  I want a place for my children to play that is not in the road or driveway.  I also think that others do, too.  In addition, I believe others would be willing to pay for such a 'luxury' as it has grander implication such as improved quality of life and home values. 

This could be a model for how to get sidewalks on your street…   


The advise was to talk with neighbors.  Get a petition.  Talk to councilperson.  It was noted that my street had a high volume of walkers who would appreciate a sidewalk and possibly the 'juice' to make it happen. 




Follow/Like Shade Parade on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/shadeparadenashville?ref=br_tf


 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Sidewalk Project #1: Bowling Av, Nashville, from Brighton to Woodmont Av, an update

Yesterday, Trish Mixon and I met with Councilman Jason Holleman who graciously helped us work through the beginning steps of getting the remaining 1/3 of Bowling Av in Nashville sidewalked. 
 
 

As you know, Bowling Av is a major cut-through street running North-South from Murphy Rd to Woodmont Av in Nashville, TN.  From Murphy Rd, running south, to Brighton, about 2 blocks prior to Woodlawn, Bowling has a sidewalk on either one or both sides of the street.  This part of Bowling is frequented by pedestrians.  West End Middle school abuts Bowling.  The proposed AMP would run right by.  Pedestrians frequenting Bowling Av cannot be said for the remainder that does not have a proper sidewalk. 

Bowling Av is highly traversed by both drivers and walkers up until Brighton.   Since it is a cut-through, drivers tend to pass at an exaggerated rate of speed leaving walkers feeling vulnerable. Drivers are not expecting pedestrians and it is obvious. 
 
My family and I tried to walk on the un-sidewalked section not too long ago and literally had to quit.  And, I am not a quitter.

 
 
 
Next step?  According to Jason Holleman, local Councilman:
 
First step:  Discovery process of any and all right-of-way issues that may occur on the remainder of Bowling Av that does not have a sidewalk.
 
- I have called Rick Kirkpatrick, from Public Works, who I am told will have this information.  I will update this blog as soon as I know more.
 
Second step:  Discuss relinquishment of right-of-way with home owners.  This relinquishment can be done by filling out a form. 
 
- If you live on Bowling or happen to know someone who does - please encourage them to relinquish their right-of-way.
 
Third step:  Document any impediments to creation of a sidewalk on Bowling such as mailboxes, ditches, stone walls, telephone poles, drive ways, etc.
 
Once this is done, we are to meet with Jason Holleman again with this work in file form. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 





 

Quotes

"The sovereign invigorator of the body is exercise, and of all the exercises walking is the best.  A horse gives but a kind of half exercise, and a carriage is no better than a cradle."
 
"No one knows, till he tries, how easily a habit of walking is acquired."
 
- Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to Thomas Mann Randolph Jr.
August 27, 1786
 
 
 
 
 
Car could easily replaced carriage today. A car is, therefore, no better than a cradle.
 
But, in certain areas in Nashville, the impediments to walking are not insignificant. 
 
 
 

Hillsboro Pk, Green Hills, Nashville
 
 
 

 
Hillsboro Pk, Green Hills, Nashville
 
 
 
Shade Parade is dedicated to making Nashville a walking community.  Please help us start a strong conversation about helping Nashville get out & walk. 
 
Follow Shade Parade Nashville's blog and 'like' us on Facebook to become involved in the conversation. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Trip Generator or How Surprisingly Walkable Green Hills, Nashville is

Maybe we are selling ourselves short here in Nashville. Hillsboro Pike can seem amazingly long when sitting through multiple failed stop lights.  

But, Green Hills is surprisingly walkable. In regards to distance, it is a fairly dense business corridor.   In relation to amusing window shopping, there is room for improvement.  Most businesses have doors set back through a dense parking lot making popping in or seeing the goods tricky from the roadside walkways.

  









When speaking directly of sidewalks in Green Hills - they are present for the most part - but severely neglected.













From Parnassus Books to Bread & Company it is 0.29 miles - roughly a 9 minute walk.




Try traversing this with a stroller 








Nine minutes of walking that could be quicker if not for the very poor condition of the sidewalks.  Eventually, we just took to the street to keep from the scores of start and stops required to walk on broken pavement with too numerous to count inexplicable curbs.  

Shade Parade questions why a business district would want to dissuade pedestrians?

Why do Nashvillians settle for vegetating in their car rather than demanding better walkability?  What got me thinking about this subject was the quote below from a reporter in NYC about personal changes made during the recent severe cold snap.  

'Usually on a Tuesday, I walk a mile and a half to the gym.  I took a cab.  Usually I walk three and a half miles through the park to the office.  I took a subway'. 

When you read a quote like this, Shade Parade wonders if we are selling ourselves short here in Nashville when it comes to deciding what is walkable.

Sources:
http://nhpr.org/post/across-country-people-have-been-caught-cold


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Nashville's Ratio of Sidewalks to Roadways: A Comparison to Other Major Cities

According to the Nashville-Davidson County Strategic Plan for Sidewalks and Bikewalks, when comparing our rate of sidewalk to roadways, Nashville ranks poorly.



At the time of the Strategic Plan's update, in 2008, in cities with more than 2000 miles of roadways such as Nashville, the average ratio of sidewalk miles to roadways miles was 0.67:1.

Metro Nashville's ratio of sidewalks to roadways was 0.35:1.  Nashville had 2154 miles of roadways to 752 miles of sidewalks.  Of the cities surveyed for the Strategic Plan, Nashville was the 2nd worst city, just above Charlotte, NC (0.33:1).  



'Today, through the sidewalk program as well as development requirements we have over 1,000 miles of sidewalks in Nashville and Davidson County', per Jenna Smith from Nashville's Public Works. Improvements have been made but it appears the rate of advancement has stalled.   

'In order for Metro Nashville to have a ratio equal to Portland's ratio of 0.46:1, Metro would need to construct approximately 239 miles of new sidewalk along existing roadways', per the Strategic Plan.

Shade Parade Nashville questions the commitment, today, Nashville has to walkability.  Again, according to Jenna Smith of Nashville Public Works, 'Over the past 2 years, over 3 miles of new sidewalk have been constructed and over 20 miles of sidewalks have been repaired'.  Without wanting to sound ungrateful - Three miles - Really?  At this rate, it will take us 79 years to catch up to Portland's mediocre rate of less than half the roadways having sidewalks. 




Sources:  


Nashville-Davidson County Strategic Plan for Sidewalks and Bikeways, update, 2008

http://www.nashville.gov/Public-Works/Getting-Around-Nashville/Road-Closures.aspx





Friday, January 3, 2014

Shade Parade = Tree-Lined Sidewalks


In addition to increasing walkability in Nashville via sidewalk production, Shade Parade is dedicated to catering to the needs of walkers.

This means paying close attention to urban design.  To quote the Nashville-Davidson County Strategic Plan for Sidewalks and Bikeways, this means making places that 'feel more like human scale villages:  outdoor seating, public art, benches, pocket parks, community gardens, and neighborhood-style buildings'.  I would also argue for more window shopping and greater numbers of pedestrians to add to the social aspect of walking.  Most critically, this means creating environments that are walkable all year.

Nashville is terribly hot during the summer months.  To encourage walkability, sidewalks should be tree-lined to provide the comfort of shade.  

Tree-Lined = Shade Parade








 
 
If you are lucky enough to have a sidewalk - consider planting trees to provide shade.  Be mindful of overhead wires when picking the type of tree to plant.  There are many smaller trees that might be more appropriate if overhead wires are an issue. 
 
If you are lucky enough to have a sidewalk and a green buffer zone consider planting trees on both sides of the sidewalk to create even more coverage.


Thursday, January 2, 2014

Please, Do Not Sweat the Walker!

Shade Parade promises not to get on a soapbox too often but it must be said - Don't sweat the pedestrians!


Have you ever been walking through a crosswalk only to feel a car, trying to make a right hand turn, inching towards you only to become alarmingly close to your knee caps?  That would be sweating the pedestrian.  It's rude - Don't do it.  They have the right to walk across the street.

Here is another example.  Have you ever been crossing the street in Nashville knowing that a car is waiting to turn left into your walking path? A feeling of dread can arise because you know they are only looking at oncoming traffic without paying you any mind? This makes pedestrians sweat.  Above being rude - it's dangerous.  You are obligated, when driving, to look ahead for pedestrians.

One more.  I promise not to belabor this issue.  Have you ever been walking down the street near an exit from a strip center where a driver has pulled far out onto the sidewalk and is now looking the other direction at traffic waiting for their opportunity to pull out?  Do you walk in front of their vehicle on the remaining sidewalk despite the fact that they are only looking the other way and have not seen you?  Or, do you risk walking behind their vehicle off the sidewalk even though you have the right of way???




I have included below a few visuals in case the descriptions above are not easy to understand.  

Notice the white minivan making a right turn below putting pressure on the pedestrians clearly in the crosswalk.  As a driver, when you are turning right or left, you must look ahead for pedestrians. 

The pedestrian has the right of way. Please don't sweat the pedestrian.  

Equally, if you are turning out of a strip mall that does not have a traffic light, you must LOOK BOTH WAYS to see if there is a pedestrian about to cross.  The pedestrian also has the right of way in this situation.





If there is a pedestrian in the crosswalk and you are trying to make a turn while driving - YOU MUST WAIT! 







Do NOT sweat the pedestrian! 




     


Shade Parade is looking for images of drivers putting pressure on pedestrians in crosswalks or on sidewalks where they have the right of way.  If you see this kind of behavior - please upload pictures or video to Shade Parade Nashville's Facebook page with a description of when and where.

Thank you in advance for making walkability possible in Nashville.