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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?

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