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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Nashville is Hot - Could Sidewalks be Hot, Too?



Sidewalks are Hot in Nashville!





Shade Parade Nashville wishes this was the case!  Since November 2013, in an attempt to get people thinking about the subject, I have been writing exclusively about sidewalks in Nashville.

Sidewalks, strange to my mind, have not been a hot topic in Nashville until possibly recently.  A quick google search shows only a handful of articles focused on sidewalks in Nashville.   A 2001 article, entitled 'We Desperately Need Sidewalks' (Nashville Scene, Nov 22, 2001) states 'Nashville is in deep sidewalk poverty'.  It goes on to say 'fortuitiously, Mayor Bill Purcell presented a capital spending plan a couple of weeks ago that retired any notion that the city doesn't plan to construct sidewalks'. 

Well, where are the sidewalks?  In 2003, Mayor Bill Purcell allocated more $20 million and pledged 25 new miles of sidewalks in Nashville.  Purcell actually campaigned on a platform of 'Sidewalks and Schools'.  

And, yet as of 2008, we were rated the 2nd worst walking city in America.  Our sidewalk to road ratio is grim:  0.35:1 equating to roughly a third of our streets having a sidewalk.  In the last 2 years, we have had 3 miles of new sidewalks completed. The budget for sidewalks for 2014 has been allocated.  This implies that sidewalks have been forgotten once again.

Yet, we have serious issues:  increasing traffic, greater than 30% obesity, kids walking in cow paths to get to schools, bus stops that literally let you off onto a tiny concrete pad without any type of connectivity, non-ADA compliance is the norm, pedestrian deaths, vehicles stubbornly refusing to relinquish their Turf and disregarding the right-of-way of pedestrians.   

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As sidewalks articles dribbled into the news, progress in sidewalk production has been painfully slow in Nashville.  

Interestingly, tension, surrounding sidewalks, was revealed during a recent Metro Council meeting over a pedestrian bridge planned for the Gulch.  A number of Council Members discussed their frustrations at not having access to funding for sidewalks in their districts triggered by the proposal of a large pedestrian foot bridge for the Gulch with an estimated cost of between $15-16 million.  






Shade Parade Nashville is for sidewalks - any sidewalks that will work (preferably tree lines, with connectivity, without obstacles such as curb cuts and telephone poles).  

We love the idea of this bridge - it looks amazing and will help deconstruct another huge hurdle to walking in Nashville - the super block.  

But we need more and faster.  Shade Parade Nashville is dedicated to increasing sidewalks in Nashville & wishes for a complete and coherent plan for this to be accomplished for all (and soon!).  






Sources:

We Desperately Need Sidewalks, Nashville Scene, Nov 22, 2001.

Public Works Still Poring Over Sidewalk and Bikeways List, The City Paper, May 12, 2009.

Council Slows Mayor's Progress on Gulch-SoBro Pedestrian Bridge, By Michael Cass, The Tennessean, Feb 18, 2014.






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