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Saturday, January 31, 2015

I - The Irony of the Few Sidewalks in Nashville


I.

This story is a 3 part series - I hope you will read all pieces as they come out over the next full day to see how it unfolds.

***

I was driving home from work and saw a dad and his son, who appeared to be around 8 years old, walking down the east side of 24th Av S approaching Blair.  I watched them walk along the well tread cow path and thought is was pretty sad that the sidewalk ended at Bernard Av.  It was so close to its terminus at Blair…why would it stop just a single block shy?  







The intersection of Blair & 24th S consists of a 3 way stop as it is a 'T' street.   As the dad and his son reached the intersection, they waited their turn and then headed into the crosswalk.  The car directly in front of me, rather than counting the pedestrians as part of equation, took his turn while they were smack dab in the middle of the crosswalk.  He turned left, pulling up to essentially have his front wheels up to the crosswalk and then stopping to let the family complete their pass.   

It didn't look reckless.  The driving was not erratic.  It was very smooth and controlled.  I did worry that they may be hit.  Why would a driver do this to people?  Why not let them cross, then go?






This behavior is what I refer to as 'sweating the pedestrian'.  I think of it as a form of ignorant bullying.  I hope it is ignorant rather than frankly not caring.  Essentially, the driver in their heavy vehicle pulls up so close to the pedestrian (who is in their right-of-way) that they begin to sweat. 

Maybe the driver didn't see them?  But, isn't it the job of the driver to be aware of everything around him?  

A very similar left turn resulted in an 85 year old woman being hit in the Green Hills area in September 2014.  




***

Left turns are particularly dangerous for walkers.  I consider the story of the dad and his son as a 'near miss'.  No one was struck but the driver must not have considered them - essentially not seeing them until he pulled up to their crosswalk.  



***





CONTACT
thesidewalkfoundation@gmail.com





Sunday, January 25, 2015

Nashville: Dangerous and Dull…But What if We Develop the Interiors and Around Public Parks?





Walking in many areas of Nashville is frankly pretty dull.    There is not much to look at as a rule.  The scale and lighting are all wrong for pedestrians in most parts of town including are biggest shopping area which are clearly designed for vehicular traffic only.  Houses are set way back from the road.  Landscaping is made for privacy rather than to pleasure those walking by.  Public art is not commonplace.  

It is also pretty dangerous if you are on foot - 15th most dangerous city in America for walkers (fitting of an 'It City'???).   Walking in  Nashville is pretty dull except for the moments of terror when you realize the vehicle heading directly towards you has not seen you!

Outside of the urban core, the set up is suburban:  narrow roads without sidewalks.  Houses set far back off the road with landscaping that literally gives a walker no place to be.   




In addition, the blocks in Nashville are HUGE.  In fact, they are  'super-blocks'.  Strangely, these super-blocks don't even line up appropriately into a grid but are just off-set enough to make for awkward intersections.  Add in the numerous gated communities and cul-de-sac streets and you see how walking, one of our most basic rights, becomes a serious challenge.  







These super-blocks, gated communities, non-aligned intersections, landscaping practices and cul-de-sac streets make getting from point A to going B on foot really hard.  If, as the crow flies, you need to walk a mile - with this type of patchwork city planning - you may end up walking significantly longer and risk significant bodily harm.   

Ask a Nashvillian if they let their children or elderly parents walk and you will get the real dirt on the quality of our pedestrian infrastructure.

***

Why so many barriers to walking in Nashville?  
Why don't we work towards fixing these problems right now? 

In addition to more public art & use of proper scale/lighting to make walking more interesting (and safe), I ask you to consider developing these super-block interiors. 

The super-block interiors could have Greenway style paths to allow for pedestrians and bikes to cut through.  This would allow people engaged in active transport to not be subjected to our current narrow and dangerous road conditions.  

I would also love to see the city parks become centers in each neighborhood by allowing some development to be centered around them (this means walking developments NOT parking lot developments!).  I am not proposing big development that would limit the ability of peopel to live near parks but the kind of small business development that often exists in prior houses described in more detail below.  

The development around public parks would lead to 'chunking' of activities - walk to the park wih the kids, grab a coffee on the way and pick up that lemon you are missing to make dinner.  Bump into a friend.  Why not get the paper while you are at it?  Seems like a win-win idea.  

I would argue that now is the time to think of the greater civic good.  

I heard a story recently about Chesterfield and a single neighbor who fought the planned sidewalk - essentially doubling the cost of the project.  Why do this?  Sadly, greed is the only explanation I can come up with.  


The fact is:  there is a Sidewalk Plan for Nashville.  

All streets will be sidewalked eventually.


 (So, one big important warning:  do not plant in the right-of-way unless you understand that it is temporary as this is where the sidewalks will go).   

***

And, if the interiors of super-blocks are developed with Greenway style paths -  allow it.  Don't be afraid and come up with numerous reasons why you don't want it.  You likely will benefit from it.  The city, as a whole, will benefit from it.






We have some great example already of development around public parks.  I think this idea is one reason 12th South is so popular and animated.  Sevier Park is a solid base and there are plenty of things to do right around it.  For example, having Las Paletas right across the street is genius.  





Another very strong and emerging example is Richland Park with its public library, farmer's market and the develeopments on Charlotte directly across the street such as Headquarters Coffee.  




Let's not fight progress…Let's instead make a great plan that allows walkers to finally move easily, comfortably and safely in Nashville.   








Link:
http://mpw.nashville.gov/IMS/Sidewalks/

http://mpw.nashville.gov/IMS/Sidewalks/InteractiveMap.aspx

http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/8923/crystal-city-plans-to-repair-its-superblocks/

http://www.sliptalk.com/moss-graffiti/?utm_source=fb&utm_medium=boost&utm_campaign=moss-graffiti

http://www.annagarforth.co.uk

http://designyoutrust.com/2012/03/moss-graffiti-art-anna-garforth/









Thesidewalkfoundation@gmail.com
thesidewalkfoundation.org (coming soon) - info, data, map, donate

Nashville Public Works:
http://mpw.nashville.gov/IMS/Sidewalks/
Submit your comments and questions via phone at (615) 862-8750 or through the use of the on-line customer service desk.


Friday, January 23, 2015

Rapid Development In Nashville: Are Pedestrians About to Be Left in the Dirt Again?




Nashville is developing very quickly!

Have you been downtown, in the Gulch, or by Vanderbilt recently?  We are a 'crane city' with numerous high rises and developments going in.  Greenhills has 3 obvious construction fences in prominent locations and Hillsboro High is slated for a significant upgrade.  There are 28 homes going in across from the Greenhills library.

Similarly, Nashville had rapid development post WWII.  Most agree that during this period the car was king and no one considered the needs of walkers.  Hence, the crazy patchwork of random amenities and the frank lack of sidewalks past the urban core.  

Other cities did not do this.  And, I am not just talking about major cities. My own small hometown had a perfect grid of sidewalks on every single street (and it was fantastic!).  Other cities made sure that ALL citizens could walk safety and comfortably to their destinations.  

Why didn't Nashville?  

And, are we about to make the same mistake?

As we head into another amazing period of growth in Nashville, I want to make sure pedestrian advocates are at the table.  My main worry is that we develop, yet again, so quickly that pedestrians do not have the chance to advocate for ourselves and we do not get the things that make city life worth living.  

We need to have sidewalks and open spaces such as public plazas and parks incorporated into this rapid growth.  Less think less about parking spots and more about how we can walk from point A to point B in a manner that is really high quality.  

Streets today that seem like they will never need a sidewalk may not feel that way in 20 years.  The fact it:  THINGS CHANGE.  This is the strongest argument for changing the sidewalk in-lieu fee (an example of a plan that did not have a pedestrian advocate involved) to make it clear that the preference is, by far, to have developers put in the sidewalk now.   

Put in the sidewalk now 
even if it doesn't really make sense today.  

Put in the sidewalk now 
because it isn't going to be easier in the future.  

Put in the sidewalk now  
because things change.  



The little side streets of today may be utilized very differently in the future.   

Nashville need to think and act progressively and build the infrastructure for walking now.  The post WWII boom in Nashville showed us that it doesn't get easier or cheaper to build in the future.  We should learn from this error.  

Nashvillians have expressed a significant latent demand to get out on foot.  Is it really fair to make walkers wait longer?    Retrofitting sidewalks on roads is very difficult and expensive - at least this is what I hear over and over again when I advocate for sidewalks.









Contact:
thesidewalkfoundation@gmail.com

thesidewalkfoundation.org (coming very soon)

What can you do now?  When you see a development going in:  call to ask them (nicely!!!) to put in the sidewalk rather than pay the in-lieu fee.  Advocate for walking in your neighborhood.  Get out and walk!






Thursday, January 22, 2015

Other Places Are Making Progress on Pedestrian vs Vehicle Deaths…Why hasn't Nashville? What can YOU do?


Nashville is currrently ranked the 15th most dangerous city to be a pedestrian in America. The only cities worse are in Florida. This statistic is based on pedestrian deaths per population. If the goal is 'safety first'…we, as a city, have some work to do. 

If you care about walkability - now is the time to have your voice heard.  The next mayor is listening & if you do not speak up she or he will not know that you are left wanting.

Let's take sidewalks, safety and walkability into the spotlight.  

  • Write to the mayoral candidates (& the current mayor while you are at it)  
    • Some have argued that Nashville's lack of progress is because Public Works is in control of the edge of private property to the edge of private property (the right of way).  Since they are their own seperate entitity - they do not have to work well with other departments such as planning and storm water.  Building more sidewalks would mean more maintenance work for Public Works - creating better walkability in Nashville appears to be a job Public Works is not highly interested in and certainly does not seem passionate about.  Ask the next mayor to consider de-siloing the seperate entities of planning and public works and, instead, moving them into a single department that works together.  
    • Ask that sidewalks and pedestrians change their status and become first class rather than 2nd or 3rd.   
  • Text your councilperson  
  • Call public works 
    • Request a sidewalk in your neighborhood. 
    • If development closes a sidewalk - request a covered protected walkways 
  • Send pictures of issues you have identified in your neighborhood & let me post them.  







How Sweden Is Eliminating Road Deaths
The life-saving power of street design
ZAINAB MUDALLALJAN 2 2015, 11:45 AM ET




Cathal McNaughton/Reuters

Sweden is on its way to reaching zero road deaths per year. It’s an incredible feat, coming from a peak in road deaths in the 1970s. In 1997, Sweden implemented a "Vision Zero" plan in hopes of eradicating all road deaths and injuries, and it has already cut the deaths by half since 2000. In 2012, just one child under seven years old was killed on a road, compared with 58 in 1970.

The Economist earlier in 2014 took a look at the data: The number of cars on the road and the distance driven have doubled since the '70s, yet just 264 people died in road crashes in Sweden in 2013, a record low. That represents just three deaths per 100,000 people, compared to 5.5 in the European Union and 11.4 in the U.S. (This European Commission report has additional data.)

How has Sweden done it? “We are going much more for engineering than enforcement,” Matts-Åke Belin, a government traffic safety strategist, told CityLab recently.

Sweden has rebuilt roads to prioritize safety over speed and other considerations. This includes the creation of "2 + 1" roads, three-lane streets consisting of two lanes in one direction and one lane in the other; the extra lane alternates between directions to allow for passing. That design saved roughly 145 lives during the first 10 years of Vision Zero, according to The Economist.

Sweden has also created 12,600 safer pedestrian crossings with features such as bridges, flashing lights, and speed bumps. That’s estimated to have halved pedestrian deaths over the past five years. The country has lowered speed limits in urban, crowded areas and built barriers to protect bikers from oncoming traffic. A crackdown on drunk driving has also helped.

Others are studying the Swedish model. New York has also adopted a Vision Zero plan, which includes the implementation of slow zones and increased police enforcement of speeding laws. As a result, it's never been safer to cross a street in New York City. Just 131 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents in 2014, a record low.



Link:










Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Daily Rituals of Creative People - One Huge Surprising Finding!





Mason Curry has written a book about the daily rituals of creative people.  His best advice after learning how the most creative produce:

  Take a walk every day.




'I was really struck by how many great writers, artists and composers took a walk alone with a piece of paper in their pockets to take down notes.  Seems to be incredibly valuable for so many people throughout history that I think we could all benefit from that.

Yes!

Nashville:  Take a walk!
Nashville Drivers:  Give them a break!





***



There are only 24 hours in a day, but it sure seems like certain people are able to do way more with their time than the rest of us. Some of us barely have time to do the laundry, while others write plays or compose symphonies. 
Mason Currey writes about 161 creative minds, among them are painters, composers, philosophers and poets, in his book, "Daily Rituals: How Artists Work." He finds that many of these artists and geniuses accomplished so much each day because they used their time wisely and efficiently, and practiced rituals.
"People would find that a certain habit was associated with a period of productivity or great insight and they would often, kind of relentlessly stick to that one ritual in a sort of superstitious fashion believing that it somehow enabled their creativity," Currey says.

***

NPR article:


The Onion published an essay recently called "Find The Thing You're Most Passionate About, Then Do It On Nights And Weekends For The Rest Of Your Life." The piece was satire, but it's how many of us respond to the question Mason Currey raises in his entertaining new book, Daily Rituals: How Artists Work. "How do you do meaningful creative work," he wonders, "while also earning a living?"
A product of the author's now-defunct blog, Daily RoutinesDaily Rituals assembles the regimens of 161 assorted creative geniuses into a lean, engaging volume. Its brief entries humanize legends like Hemingway and Picasso, and shed light on the working lives of less popular contemporary geniuses, like painter Gerhard Richter, choreographer Twyla Tharp and illustrator Maira Kalman.
The book makes one thing abundantly clear: There's no such thing as the way to create good work, but all greats have their way. And some of those ways are spectacularly weird.
Nikola Tesla typically worked from noon until midnight, breaking at 8:00 p.m. for dinner every night at the Waldorf-Astoria. Among the many peculiarities of this ritualized repast was his practice of not starting the meal until he had computed his dinner's cubic volume, "a compulsion he had developed in his childhood." Truman Capote, who wrote lying down in bed or on a couch, refused to let more than two cigarette butts pile up in an ashtray and "couldn't begin or end anything on a Friday." Louis Armstrong smoked pot ("gage," as he called it) almost daily and couldn't go to sleep until he had taken his dose of a "potent herbal laxative" called Swiss Kriss. "Armstrong believed so strongly in its curative powers that he recommended it to all his friends," Currey writes, "and even had a card printed up with a photo of himself sitting on a toilet, above the caption 'Leave It All Behind Ya.' "
Mason Currey was the editor of Metropolis for six years.i
Mason Currey was the editor ofMetropolis for six years.
Stephen Kozlowski/Knopf
The prolific Hungarian mathematician Paul Erdos believed that "a mathematician is a machine for turning coffee into theorems." And indeed, if there's a drug the artists in Daily Rituals can agree on, it's caffeine. Soren Kierkegaard preferred his coffee with sugar, or perhaps it was vice versa: "Delightedly he seized hold of the bag containing the sugar and poured sugar into the coffee cup until it was piled above the rim," his biographer observed. "Next came the incredibly strong, black coffee, which slowly dissolved the white pyramid."
In addition to detailing peculiarities, Daily Rituals, as the name suggests, also tracks the ordinary routines some of the greatest minds in history employed to negotiate the daily grind.
James Joyce, we learn, woke daily around 10:00 a.m. He'd lie in bed for about an hour, then get up, shave and sit down at his piano, where he'd play and sing before writing in the afternoon and then hitting the cafes later that evening. John Updike, meanwhile, worked mornings, preferring to "put the creative project first," as he put it. Of his discipline, he said, "I've never believed that one should wait until one is inspired because I think that the pleasures of not writing are so great that if you ever start indulging them you will never write again."

Charles Darwin boasts one of the book's strictest schedules. After a stroll and breakfast alone, Darwin would begin a 90-minute work session around 8:00 a.m. He'd break to read mail with his wife and then return to his study around 10:30 a.m. for a second session. By noon or so, he'd have completed what he considered his workday, but the rest of his waking hours were no less regimented. He responded to letters, read and rested at regular intervals until bedtime, which arrived daily around 10:30 p.m. "Thus his days went for forty years," Currey writes, "with few exceptions."
Some of the creative feats mentioned in the book seem godlike. P.G. Wodehouse, for instance, wrote the last 8,000 words of Thank You, Jeeves in a single day. He was bested by William Faulkner, who once wrote 10,000 words between 10:00 a.m. and midnight. But these are exceptions to the rule, and there's something reassuring about the way most of Daily Rituals' towering artists and thinkers struggle with the always difficult, occasionally miserable creative process.
It even tests someone as preternaturally prolific as Joyce Carol Oates. "Getting the first draft finished," she once said, "is like pushing a peanut with your nose across a very dirty floor."




Links:

http://www.marketplace.org/topics/business/daily-rituals-creative-people?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+APM_Marketplace+%28APM%3A+Marketplace%29

http://www.npr.org/2013/04/30/179286560/daily-rituals-of-the-brilliantly-creative













Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Pedestrian Dies from Injuries Received in Crash, Nashville, simple citation given…Wait, what???



Shared by the Hillwood Listserve:


'A reminder to be vigilant as a walker in your neighbourhood'.



"I want to inform you of the upcoming Celebration of Life service for longtime Local 257 member, bassist Henry Strzelecki. He passed away on December 30, 2014 during the holidays due to injuries he suffered in a tragic accident near his home on December 22, which left him in a coma. 


Henry was a great bassist and wonderful man who worked with Chet Atkins, Jerry Reed, and played on countless classic Nashville recordings, including Bob Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde. He was also a producer and songwriter and wrote the classic tune “Long Tall Texan.”




I first met Henry in the early 80s when I was working with Don Williams and he was a member of the Nashville Superpickers while we were on a European tour together. He was always very gracious and encouraging to me and was a beloved and respected member of our community. 

Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, fans and friends. The service will be held on Saturday January 17, 2015 at the Pennington Bend United Methodist Church, 2745 Pennington Bend Rd. near Opryland at 2 p.m.







January 2, 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

The police department’s fatal crash team is conducting a follow up investigation into a December 22nd collision that ultimately claimed the life of a 75-year-old pedestrian.


Henry P. Strzelecki died at Skyline Medical Center on the night of December 30th.
Strzelecki was struck near his Waterford Drive home at 5:21 p.m. on December 22nd by a 2007 Nissan Xterra driven by George W. Arnot III, 49, also of Waterford Drive. Arnot was traveling south on Waterford Drive when he sideswiped a mailbox, hit Strzelecki and then hit another mailbox. There was no indication of alcohol involvement
.

Arnot was cited on the night of the crash for failure to exercise due care. He was involved in two property damage crashes late last year on November 3rd and December 26th.

                      ###




I want to point out an alarming trend in Nashville - a simple citation, after killing a pedestrian:  for failure to exercise due care.  If you follow pedestrian vs vehicular crashes you will note that the last sentance in most reports are essentially 'no charges were filled'.  

Does this sound correct to you??? I have not found a satisfactory explanation for the lack of police or legal interest in prosecuting these cases.  

Is this the kind of enforcement of pedestrian rights Nashvillians want? 

Shouldn't pedestrians be given the highest level of consideration? 

***

I ran into a friend yesterday and we talked about this sad situation and she said this is why Nashville is called Smashville.  Is this the culture we would like our city to be known for?

Link:

http://www.tennessean.com/story/entertainment/music/2015/01/04/life-late-musician-henry-strzelecki-celebrated/21230779/ 



Contact:  
thesidewalkfoundation@gmail.com & thesidewalkfoundation.org (coming soon!)













Monday, January 19, 2015

Nashville's Take on Sidewalk Closures Related to Development - Safety Pays???


Safety Pays

Met with representatives from Public Works in Nashville last week to discuss sidewalk closures related to development.  

As many walkers know in Nashville, the obstacles are numerous.  Add in sidewalk closures due to development and walking becomes even more challenging.












This life of these sidewalk closures tends to be long.  Many projects stretch on months to years.
As Shade Parade Nashville readers know, I am all for density.  I love that Nashville is becoming a proper city & that this is happening rapidly.  

But sights like these photographed above are too common.  There must be a better way…

The thing is, other cities have figured this one out already.  There is frankly no reason not to implement best practices created by cities one step ahead of us.  

To its credit, Nashville is changing and changing fast.  We are a very pro-development city but there needs to be some recognition of the rights of pedestrians when their routes can be impacted long term.  If it is safety 1st - closing the sidewalk, I would argue, is actually less safe as it leads to walkers taking a risk in the roadway rather then manage long detours.  

Again, temporary sidewalk closures related to building can last years on some of the larger projects - that, in and of itself, is a strong argument for a good written plan.  
  


***
 Basic Information on Sidewalk Closure Permits by Public Works: 

What is the Nashville's official policy on sidewalk closures due to development? 

- up to the discretion of Public Works - permit is based on a case-by-case review

What is the permit requirements?  

- Again - case by case review.  Preference is for covered sidewalks rather than closure of sidewalk (but as a walker - these protected/covered sidewalks seem much less the norm than the exception as most sidewalks around construction sites just stop/are closed)
- a permit can be taken out for 2 months at a time. Then, it can be reviewed for renewal every 2 months.  It is unclear how Public Works makes sure that these are renewed.   
- there is a $10 per day fee for sidewalk closure (one block in length, single side of the street) 

When the permit is filed, where do the fees go?

- the general fund (note:  not back into sidewalk funding)





***

Could there be a different way to support development and protect pedestrians?  Certainly, other cities have written policy on this issue.  Cities, such as New York City, have perpetual redevelopment & many pedestrians to protect.  There, rerouting is kept to a minimum.  In fact, NYC will infringe on private cars, by popping a protected pedestrian walkway out into the road, before making pedestrians cross the street with a closure then cross back.  










***

Nashville is growing so fast - I encourage you to notice construction sites and the conditions left to walkers.  

The truth is, with walkers, they are going to take the path of least resistance.  If a route suddenly stops, some will walk in the road or worse, to avoid having to do additional steps.  This creates a real safety concern. 

Shouldn't we, as a city & as a culture, put pedestrian safety 1st and have a written plan for sidewalk closures?  

What if covered sidewalks were the norm?  Or a walkway created by bumping out into the road if a covered sidewalk isn't possible like some of the images above?

And funding-wise, shouldn't we consider the monies raised from sidewalk closure permits to go back into sidewalks (ie: bolster the sidewalk in-lieu fee fund?) rather than the general fund?

If the goal is to make active transport more common in Nashville - these seem like fairly simple changes to consider.








thesidewalkfoundation@gmail.com
thesidewalkfoundation.org (coming soon)




Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Pursuit of Happiness in Nashville

The Pursuit of Happiness


This week, I am home on a stay-cation here in Nashville.  Two friends just stopped by and dropped a book off.   My vacation plans including taking a reading vacation (based on what Bill Gates does), meeting with a few key people about sidewalk issues and doing a massive de-cluttering of my house in addition to spending some much needed family time.

Both little kids napping, allowed me to begin reading where the most marvelous quote was discovered:

'And what are our needs for happiness? he (Enrique Penalosa, former mayor of Bogota) asked.  We need to walk, just as birds need to fly.  We need to be around other people.  We need beauty.  We need contact with nature.  And most of all, we need not be excluded.  We need to feel some sort of equality.'

Good words to start a holiday on…




I encourage all Nashvillians to get out and walk.





Look at the infrastructure we have built for walkers critically.  





Can you imagine it working better?  

Allowing for more happiness?









The Sidewalk Foundation at  Thesidewalkfoundation.org (website coming soon) is officially a non-profit - raising awareness and funding for high quality well designed sidewalks and walking infrastructure in Nashville.  Contact:  thesidewalkfoundation@gmail.com