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Saturday, February 14, 2015

Sofia




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I want to thank Helga Maneschi for sharing the story of her daughter Sofia on her one year anniversary of Sofia's passing.





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Non-Accessible Sidewalks in Green Hills


By Helga Maneschi

Nashville is a thriving city with a growing population and increasing traffic. There are many citizens who use walking as an alternative mode (or primary mode) of transportation and for recreation. We have made great progress in adding walkable greenways and paths in our wonderful parks. Some neighborhoods have great sidewalks and are heavily used by pedestrians. Belmont Blvd., 12th Ave. South and the Whitland- Richland area are just a few examples.

However, one of the busiest neighborhoods in Nashville is the Green Hills/Hillsboro area with a variety of shops, grocery stores, restaurants and services that could be a viable pedestrian- friendly zone, easily accessible by all citizens. In the vicinity are also senior citizen and assisted- living facilities, whose inhabitants would benefit from safe and accessible sidewalks. Unfortunately, this area is a prime example of obstructions on the sidewalks that prevent wheelchair-users, families with strollers, and people with mobility-scooters access to these amenities.

Twenty percent of the U.S. population has a disability and 30% do not drive. People with disabilities live throughout the community. At the same time, Nashville ranks as the 15th most dangerous city in America for pedestrians, making for a very complicated and unfortunate situation.

The addition of a new multi-use complex on the corner of Richard Jones and Hillsboro will further increase traffic congestion and pedestrian traffic. This would be an opportune time to make the area from Crestmoor down to Hobbs Road (the Hill Center excluded) accessible to all citizens. A focus on creating spaces that allow individuals to park their cars and do their business on foot would not only benefit pedestrians but the merchants along the Hillsboro Road. A natural byproduct of these proposed shifts in designs would be increased foot traffic and make the area a gathering point for the community, instead an area to be avoided.

Included is documentation on the shortcomings of the sidewalks on Hillsboro Road in Green Hills. This document highlights problems on one side of Hillsboro Road from Crestmoor Road down to Warfield Drive. The opposite side has similar obstacles.

As a citizen of the Green Hills neighborhood I never paid too much attention to Nashville’s accessibility for disabled people until our daughter, Sofia was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis 20 years ago, while being a student at Tufts University. Within 3 years she progressed from walking, to using a wheelchair. After graduating she returned to Nashville to live with us. In addition to dealing with her progressing illness she had to contend with daily issues of “getting around” the city. Her workplace, restaurants and most public buildings were accessible and Access Ride was an additional bonus for her, in retaining some form of independence. Unfortunately, due to her illness her eyesight was greatly impaired and she was also diagnosed as legally blind.

She was determined to retain some level of independence and often insisted of venturing out on her own. She knew our neighborhood well and motorists and neighbors would watch out for her, since our neighborhood was one lacking sidewalks. One of her favorite restaurants was in the Green Hills Center. I would park my car, drop her off at the restaurant, do my errands on foot, and pick her up from the restaurant after I was done. One time she insisted on meeting me at one of the stores on Hillsboro Road. I told her I would meet her half way because I was pretty comfortable that she would be able to manage the sidewalks around the Hill Center, since they had been finished to ADA specifications. But she had already ventured further and I screamed for her to stop from a distance as I ran towards her. I had noticed that the sidewalk had no curb cut but a 4-inch drop and she would have been thrown from her 350 pound chair onto the vehicular entrance of a business.

On several occasions, we had seen wheelchair users moving from the sidewalks into the street because of the obstructions. For someone determined to be out on her own, this made for a harrowing experience – one fraught with dangers easily seen and some unseen until maybe too late.

Unfortunately, my daughter will not be able to benefit from improvements that may be being considered. We just honored the year anniversary of her death. Now, we are trying to improve the barriers to mobility. We ask that you consider this important issue so that all people can move safely and comfortably in our city.






This telephone pole in the middle of the sidewalk does not allow four-wheeled mobility aids to pass by.


This picture shows the sharp drop off on either side of the pole.



Here is the next obstruction of a pole and a newspaper box a few feet further on.



This stretch was unobstructed in front of the entrance to Green Hills Mall until…..



…this cable prevents access for people with impaired sight or with mobility aids.



The sidewalk on the other side of the entrance to the mall suddenly ends here.



The only option is to go into the busy street to continue. How are people with sight or physical impairments supposed to navigate this?



The only option is staying on the street because the sidewalk doesn’t continue in front of the Sun Trust Bank.



Another photo showing the same area.




The sidewalk in front of Macy’s is accessible, but the landscaping bushes need to be trimmed back.



This photo speaks for itself on the corner of Abbot Martin and Hillsboro Road.



In front of Walgreen's.




In front of Trader Joe’s and Mattress Firm.



There is no curb cut and cars parked obstruct the sidewalk.



Another view of parked cars in the same spot.



Newspaper boxes and pole obstruction in front of Trader Joe’s.



Another view of the same area.



No curb cut in front of Trader Joe’s.



Entrance to Trader Joe’s –No curb cut and major obstruction




Another view of the same spot.



View from the other side of the same area.



In front of Corzine Richter.



In front of Trunk and Bag, in the same area.



No curb cut in front of Hills Center entrance (former bank under re-construction).


The sidewalks beyond the Hill Center are accessible to all.


By Helga Maneschi


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Lately, I have been highly interested in personal stories of how Nashville's outdated infrastructure effects its citizens. This interest stems from the numerous stories people have shared with me over the past year and a quarter since I began writing about pedestrian issues under the name Shade Parade Nashville.

Shade Parade Nashville & now The Sidewalk Foundation were both created to open up a dialog about the unmet needs of pedestrians in Nashville.

The goal is high quality, well designed and highly utilized pedestrian through-fares.


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Smartly Sidewalked + Tree Lined + Highly Utilized
= Shade Parade


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If you have ever or if you know of someone who has had trouble getting around Nashville as a pedestrian - please share this with them.

If you see something that impedes your right to get around on foot (or in a wheel chair) - Please send it to me at:



thesidewalkfoundation@gmail.com



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