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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Nashville's New Year Resolution, 2014 - to Increase Walkability?

Nashville - what is your New Year Resolution for 2014?

Shade Parade's New Year Resolution is to walk every day.  Getting out on foot will increase awareness of pedestrians and encourage others to do so, too. 

Be seen but be safe.  Nashville is not equipped in all locations for pedestrians.  To steal a phrase from driving - walk defensively.  

According to the Nashville-Davidson Country Strategic Plan for Sidewalks and Bikeways '75% of those people who do not walk, attribute this to lack of sidewalks in the area'. Less than half of the 1547 people surveyed by telephone felt that walking 'was safe, convenient and practical way to get from one place to another'.  An overwhelming 81% of respondents 'stated that they would like to have more sidewalks and bikeways in Davidson County'.  

What are the impediments to walking in Nashville?  

'The presence of well-designed pedestrian facilities … influences one's decision to walk for transportation'.  Another way to phrase this is that we suffer from poor urban design.  We haven't paid attention to creating spaces that are human scale in a long time.  

Most of the existing sidewalks in Davidson County are located in areas of the city that were developed prior to World War II - 1939!  New sidewalks exist in development created after mid-1990 due to an amendment that requires, for the 1st time, sidewalks on one side of a new street.  This amendment has been updated to require sidewalks on both sides of any new street.

For the Strategic Plan described above, a sidewalk inventory was performed.  There was 762 miles of sidewalks in Davidson County - nine miles of which was 'missing sidewalk segments' consisting of gaps of 1/4 mile or less in the continuity of the sidewalk.  

Problems included:
  • Obstructions 
  • Cracks
  • Damaged segments
  • Missing segments
  • Excessive cross slope (ADA states max of 2% grade)
  • Missing ramps (64% of current sidewalks lack ramps, 26% of current ramps are not ADA compliant) 

Only 0.5% of sidewalk blocks surveyed were free of problems.

I would argue that lighting and clearly identified cross walks (with crosswalk signs where appropriate) should be added to the list above.  Nashville's intersections, a place of elevated risk for pedestrians, frequently lack overhead lighting.  

Wear reflective clothing.  Carry a flashlight if you walk at night.  Driver error is the main cause of nearly four out of five serious pedestrian injuries according to NYC 2010 Pedestrian Safety Study.  

Shade Parade is committed to increasing walkability in Nashville.  You are encouraged to utilize your feet for transportation whenever possible. Until walkability improves, please walk defensively! 

  • Nashville-Davidson County Strategic Plan for Sidewalks and Bikeways (2008)
  • NYC Pedestrian Safety Study (2010)

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