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Sunday, May 25, 2014

I Saw You Risking Your Life…2014 Update, Dangerous By Design

I walk a lot.  I walk alone, with friends, with my kids, with a large stroller, and sometimes a dog.

After a walk here in Nashville, particularly if I have to walk on Woodlawn or Bowling, I will hear from a friend or neighbor a statement such as 'I saw you risking your life on ___ (St, Av, etc)'.

Statements like this always saddens me but I understand the concern.  On May 22nd, 2014, Smart Growth America published Dangerous By Design where Nashville was ranked the 15th most dangerous walking city in America.  

So, the concern expressed is quantified, legitimized and is frankly shameful.  For a city, considered an 'it' city - I find this particularly shameful.  From 2003-2012, a 9 year stretch, there were 210 pedestrian deaths in Nashville-Davidson Co-Murfreesboro-Franklin, TN.  That equates to just over 23 people die each year as a pedestrian.     

Shade Parade Nashville is dedicated to increasing walkability high quality, well designed sidewalks in Nashville.

The Sidewalk Foundation is dedicated to developing high quality, well designed sidewalks in Nashville through Adopt-a-Sidewalk, Buy-a-Shade-Tree and Buy-a-Sidewalk-Square.  Each sidewalk Square and shade tree purchased will carry your initials.



Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Sidewalk Survey

We have had 50 responses from the Sidewalk Survey.  If you have not had a chance to fill it out - please take a max of 2 minutes to do so.  There are 10 questions.  Link below.

As an update, we had a very good meeting with Public Works today (5/21/2014).  There are a few ways to go regarding Bowling Av in particularly that I will be writing about over the next few weeks.  Most importantly, our Sidewalk Priority Index score, near West End is a 45!!! This is very helpful to Bowling as they are currently considering projects in the 20-30 range.  Notably, the entirety of Bowling is not so high.  Our SPI does drop to around 6 from Woodlawn to Woodmont.  That being said, Public Works attempts to fill in gaps in sidewalks 1st - something to be considered as Woodmont is about to be repaved.  If there was even a bit of sidewalk completed at Bowling and Woodmont - this would create a gap - and a lot of momentum to complete it.  

Important next steps include:
Calling customer service at 615-862-8850 and requesting a sidewalk on Bowling.  Express the reasons it is important to you.  This action documents the requests of the neighborhood.  The more people who call and request - the better.  The squeaky wheel effect is part of the process.  

Fill out survey on sidewalks in Nashville with an emphasis on Bowling Av:

Shade Parade Nashville is dedicated to creating a more walkable Nashville through high quality well designed sidewalks


Sunday, May 18, 2014

D.I.Y Sidewalk

A while back, I wrote about putting a regulation sidewalk in front of my house via my own funding.  (

If the funding for sidewalks here in Nashville is chronically underfunded…how can we move forward and get some sidewalk panels in place?


Step 1: Determine Path Placement and Begin Excavation

Plot out the course of the path using stakes and strings. Mark with paint. Excavate the path to a depth of 8”, removing all grass, roots and debris. Tamp down the soil to form a flat base. Pour gravel to a depth of 4” and tamp it down to a level surface.

use a rake to smooth the surface of gravel

Step 2: Build the Formwork

Use 1" x 4" x 4’ boards to create forms for the sides of the walkway. Drive wooden stakes along path at 4' intervals, placing them just outside the planned pathway. Attach 1" x 4" x 4’ boards to the inside of the stakes with screws to create the form for the concrete. Make sure all form boards are plumb and level.

It is imperative that the tops of the stakes are lower than the form sides so they don't interfere in the smoothing process later. After the forms are built, spray them lightly with water before filling with concrete.

match and attach ends of boards to stakes

Step 3: Pour, Level and Smooth

Prepare pre-mixed concrete according to manufacturer’s instructions. Working from the walkway’s lowest point to its highest, begin pouring concrete into the form. Roughly level the concrete with the back of a garden rake as soon as you finish pouring.

Before the concrete gets too hard, smooth and level the concrete by sliding a 2” x 4” board back and forth across the tops of the forms (Image 1). This process is known as screeding. Use a concrete float to further smooth out the surface of the concrete (Image 2). For best results, hold the float at a slight angle.

Step 4: Finish the Concrete

After the concrete has set for an hour or so, run an edging trowel along the inside of the forms to separate the concrete and create a finished edge (Image 1). At 4' intervals, lay a straight board across the forms and use a groove trowel to create expansion joints across the concrete walkway (Image 2). These joints allow the concrete to expand and contract and thus help eliminate cracking.
Before the concrete fully sets, lightly drag a broom across the surface to add a non-slip texture. Covering the concrete with plastic as it cures will help prevent cracking. After 48 hours, remove the plastic and the wooden forms.

Ideally, the proportions of your new sidewalk would be a 5' sidewalk with a 4' green buffer zone.  Make sure you look above your proposed sidewalk placement for power & telephone lines which could limit the height of your trees.  Consider planting smaller trees in the green buffer zone to provide shade (for a list of trees see:  

There are also many great examples of storm water capture that can carry run off and funnel it away from city storm water sewers.


Shade Parade Nashville & The Sidewalk Foundation are dedicated to increasing walkability in Nashville via high quality and well designed sidewalks.  

Do you want to buy a panel?


Saturday, May 17, 2014

It’s Time to Up The Game for Walking

A study conducted by Kaiser Permanente showed that 94% of Americans understand their goal should be 30 minutes of walking per day, 5 days per week.  This amount is thought to be an adequate amount for better health.  Unfortunately, most admit that they do not reach this baseline goal.  Sited reasons include poor walking infrastructure and lack of time.  

Recommendations include taking time to consider your walking environment and making recommendations to city leaders.  Studies support improved walking infrastructure leads to changes in walking habits.

Shade Parade Nashville is dedicated to improving walkability in Nashville through high quality well designed sidewalks.  To this end, The Sidewalk Foundation, is dedicated to raising funds to support this mission.


Friday, May 16, 2014

If You Could Change One Thing About Nashville…

Keith Meacham, quoted in Style Blue Print, says it all:

If you could change one thing about Nashville, what would it be?

'The lack of sidewalks. I miss walking places'.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Dangerous By Design

On Tuesday, May 20, 2014 Smart Growth America’s National Complete Streets Coalition ( will release Dangerous by Design 2014, a report that brings attention to the national epidemic of pedestrian fatalities and the decades-long neglect of pedestrian safety.

This listing was last updated in 2011.  At that time, Nashville was ranked the 14th worst city in the US for pedestrian safety.


The 2014 edition 'will rank the country’s major metropolitan areas using a Pedestrian Danger Index, which assesses the likelihood that a person walking will be hit by a driver of a vehicle, and by looking at overall percentage of traffic deaths suffered by people walking'. In addition, it will make specific recommendations at the national and state levels to improve safety, including Complete Streets practices that ensure streets are built and operated for the safety of all road users.

I strongly encourage you to view Nashville's ranking when it comes out May 20th, 2014 (next Tuesday, at


Nashville has recently had a lot of fantastic press - being the 'It' city - but we have a long way to go in regards to infrastructure.  Most notably, when it comes to sidewalks, we are lagging far behind other cities.  Come May 20th, we will have another view of how far behind we might be…


Shade Parade Nashville is dedicated to increasing walkability in Nashville through high quality well designed sidewalks.



Saturday, May 10, 2014

Sidewalk Project #1 Bowling Av - Public Works Update

Great news…meeting with Public Works set tentatively for 5/21/2014 to discuss the Sidewalk Priority Index (SPI) for Bowling Av.  This number helps categorized projects in a multifaceted way (see below).  

One of the objectives for the SPI is to 'provide and objective method for prioritizing sidewalks and other pedestrian improvements that will maximize benefits to pedestrians'.  

'The SPI is 'intended to ensure that sidewalks are first constructed where existing need is the greatest and where the potential for pedestrians traffic is the greatest'.

The score is made up (currently) of:

Transect Zones
- Core (+8)
- Center (+8)
- Neighborhood (+6)
---1/4 mile radius of 'Neighborhood Center' or 'Commercial Corridor' (+2)
- District
---Medical Center (+2)
---Industrial (+2)
- Suburban (+2)
---1/4 Mile Radius of 'Neighborhood Center' or 'Commercial Corridor' (+2)
- Rural Reserve (-2)
- Preserve (-2)

Trip Generator:  1/2 Mile Radius
- Public School
---Elementary/Middle (+8)
---High (+4)
- Libraries and Civic Buildings (+5)
- Parks & Greenways (+5)
- Colleges & Universities (+6)
- Senior & Assisted Living Facilities (+4)
- Public Housing (+6)

Trip Generator:  1/4 Mile Radius
- Hospitals (+4)
- Transit Routes (+6)

- Arterial Roads (+4)
- Collector Roads (+2)
- Urban Services District (+2)
- Missing Segment (Within 0.25 Miles of Existing Sidewalk)(+4)


Another consideration would be that current use does not necessarily reflect future use. There is no assessment of likely ‘level of use’ of sidewalk (no assessment of population density or size of population likely to access sidewalk; instead, use is presumed to flow from the point value of the nearby destination).


The Nashville-Davidson County Strategic Plan for Sidwalks & Bikeways was last updated in 2008.  There has been progress in sidewalk production but slowly…maybe, one could argue, too slowly for changing times. 

For anyone who may wonder…'Why care about sidewalks' or 'Why bother with walkability'… I encourage you to take a look at the Op-Ed in the Tennessean.


If you have ideas about additions to the current SPI ranking - I would love to hear them.  

Shade Parade Nashville is dedicated to increasing walkability in Nashville via high quality, well designed sidewalks.  Thanks for your interest in walkability in Nashville!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

10,000 Steps

10,000 steps per day is the goal.  The figure dates back to Japanese research completed in the 1960s.  Yoshiro Hatano, Ph.D., a professor of health and welfare, studied habitually active walkers.  Although a fairly arbitrary goal, 10,000 steps typically burns around 300 calories - deemed a fitting amount in a daily routine.  

Manpo-keis (10,000 steps meters) were born!  My preferred tool is a FitBit which vibrates when you meet your 10,000 step walking goal.  

A quick 15 minute walk (~ 1 mile) can be energizing after a substantial meal.  But more is likely need to lower your risk of heart disease and cancer.  


The best rule of thumb:  Walk as much as you can whenever you can.


The 2nd best rule of thumb:  support infrastructure in your community that supports walkability.  


Shade Parade Nashville is dedicated to increasing walkability in Nashville via high quality sidewalks.

Walk This Way, Courtney Rubin  Real Simple Feb 2014