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Monday, April 21, 2014

Nashville - Greenest, most Walkable City, in a Short Period of Time?

Greenest City 2020: 

A Bright Green Future…in Nashville?

Ok. So, this is not actually Nashville's goal - its Vancouver's.  

This past week, I attended the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) meeting here in Nashville at the Office of the Mayor.   A report by Kim Hawkins, the Chair, described a delegation of over 100 from Nashville visiting Vancouver where they learned how that city made huge changes in just 6 short years.  

They started by making top priority trips by foot, then bicycle, then public transit. 

In addition, they made a sub-goal of making walking 'safe, convenient, comfortable and delightful'.

Our landscape currently expresses a different goal.

In Nashville, there are many places that essentially say'Do NOT Walk Here!'. 

In addition, a common refrain about a walker is to criticize them as 'crazy' or 'risking their life' to walk. This is a sad state of affairs - that citizens would actually feel that a pedestrian is acting reckless just for trying to walk! 

You have the right to walk!!!

To quote The Scene, 'Why, on earth, this city decided long ago not to build sidewalks is a mystery'


Shade Parade Nashville is going to shamelessly steal from Vancouver's literature.  Consider if Nashville made it top priority to have a walkable city…


From Vancouver's literature:

Goal: Make walking, cycling, and public transit preferred transportation options

The air we breathe, the amount of land we need, our physical well-being, and the cost of travel are all impacted by our transportation choices.

To improve our quality of life, and achieve the City's green transportation goal, we need to make Vancouver a city where moving on foot or by bike is safe, convenient, and enjoyable.

At the same time, transit should be fast, frequent, reliable, and accessible, and public spaces should be vibrant places alive with people.

Green transportation targets at a glance: 

  • Make the majority (over 50%) of trips by foot, bicycle, and public transit 
  • Reduce the average distance driven per resident by 20% from 2007 levels 


The big remaining question, in my mind, is funding.  How to get the city to fund sidewalks in a significant way?  There are models out there - other cities have made the commitment to walkability with clear and lovely changes as a result.  

I also think a lot about competition.  Cities are essentially competing with each other for the best people, companies, and tourist.  In order to woo the best of the best - you need to have great infrastructure.  As Nashville is rated one of the worst walking cities (#2 worst) - we are faced with a glaring deficit.  

It is time to make a big change and that change is funded sidewalks citywide.


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