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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Another New Sidewalk but Not to Standards…Why?

New sidewalk behind the mall in Green Hills, Nashville.  Sadly, you will quickly note that it lacks to proper green buffer width of 4 feet that is preferred for local streets.  This tiny strip is inadequate to support tree planting.  This could have been a beautiful tree lined corridor with plantings on either side of the sidewalk.  Instead, in the afternoon when the sun is at its hottest, pedestrians will have no reprieve.   This sidewalk is wide open to the western sky.


As anyone who has worked in Nashville to get a sidewalk in their neighborhood, you know what a monumental task it is.  If anyone out there reading this knows why we are not building sidewalks to our own standards - please inform me.  It is a great frustration to see this very rare and expensive infrastructure put in but not to our own described standard.

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Also, new to Facebook:  Nashville Needs Sidewalks - we really need people to get behind this one as this is a direct appeal to our civic leadership.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Sidewalk Project #1 - Bowling Av

According to the 2014 Nielsen report "Millennials: Breaking the Myths," 62 percent of millennials prefer to live in the type of mixed-use communities found in urban centers where they live near shopping, restaurants and work.  

As many readers know, we are actively working to improve walkability along one collector road, Bowling Av, that would allow an entire neighborhood to walk to Elmington Park, West End Middle School, the West End bus plus numerous churches and synagogues.  

This has been a long and arduous project:  Sidewalk Project #1.  According to Public Works, we have an excellent sidewalk index near the school but it peters out near Woodmont.  Our goal is to create the preferred sidewalk, in accordance with the Nashville-Davidson County Strategic Plan for Sidewalks and Bikeways, which means a 6 foot sidewalk with a 5 foot green buffer. The neighborhood has been polled and we have support of 92% of the residents.  I met with one of the two individuals who personally expressed disapproval for Sidewalk Project #1.  The main concern expressed was that this individual had planted noise reducing trees but did so in the right-of-way.

Gone are the days where young people aspire to having a big home on a big lot isolated from their neighbors.  Instead, the next generation wants to walk to work and run into friends on the way all while doing a little window shopping.  Nashville's urban core is making startling progress - now, it is time for the neighborhoods that are just outside of this golden circle to get some improvements in infrastructure, too.  

If you are for sidewalk improvements on Bowling Av, in accordance with the Nashville-Davidson County Strategic Plan for Sidewalks & Bikeways:  



Friday, March 27, 2015

A Comparison of Nashville's Bus Service to a City That Gets It (and Therefore Walks)

Comparing Nashville to other cities is very informative.  We just returned from Park City, UT where we took the bus daily.  We walked everywhere.  Our rental car was parked on day 1 and not revisited until our time to go.  

One reason the bus was so highly utilized is its frequency.  If you miss a bus, it frankly is not a big deal as there will be another in roughly 10 minutes.  

A bonus is that it is a free service.  This is not a requirement for use but it certainly was generous and we appreciated it as guests.

Another reason we felt it was easiest to use the bus with our family of five, including small children, was that we always stepped off onto a well connected sidewalk network so we could finish our trip safely.

By contrast, many bus stops in Nashville leave you stranded on a small concrete pad.  There is no connection to the area - no place to walk safely.  This presents a psychological barrier to use.  Using the bus becomes a challenge rather than the easiest thing to do.

As many Nashvillians note bitterly, traffic is building.  Until a well connected sidewalk network is in place, Nashville cannot expect increased ridership on its buses.


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

What Does Plot Have in Common With Walkability in Nashville? Everything!

I find it highly gratifying that, when you have a singular interest, which for me is being able to walk more, you can see correlates  almost every where you look.  The 'why' of my singular pursuit is because walking is rich.  It makes me feel alive.  And, the serendipity of the event is made of the many layers of life. 

Case in point:  This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, from an essay entitled From The Getaway Car:  A Practical Memoir about Writing and Life By Ann Patchett

'The plot of a novel should be like walking down a busy city street:  first there are all the other people around you, the dog walkers and the skateboarders, the couples fighting, the construction guys swearing and shouting, the pretty girl on teetering heels that causes those construction guys to turn around for a split second of silence.  There are drivers hitting the brakes, diving birds slicing between buildings, and the suddenly ominous clouds banking to the west.  All manner of action and movement is rushing towards you and away.  But that isn't enough.  You should also have the storefronts at street level, and the twenty stories of apartments full of people and their babies and their dreams.  Below the street there should be infrastructure:  water, sewer, electric.  Maybe there's a subway down there as well, and it's full of people'.  

Now, that is what I am talking about!  That is why I am so passionate about better walking in Nashville.  

If you share this viewpoint, please talk to your council person.  Write the mayor.  Call Public Works.  Go to neighborhood meetings.  Talk to the candidates running for office.  Donate to The Sidewalk Foundation.  Donate to Walk/Bike Nashville.

Take a walk. 


Thursday, March 19, 2015

Another Sub-Standard Sidewalk in Nashville - and it is Brand New!?!

In 2003, The Nashville-Davidson County Strategic Sidewalk Plan For Sidewalks and Bikeways was created.  It sets forth our intentions, as a city, to build high quality sidewalks that relate to the roadways they line.  Later, in 2008, we spent additional time and money to update it.  In fact, currently, there has been more discussion of spending more time & money to update it again!  

As the city moves towards a much more urban profile, we adapted and will continue to do so.  But, Nashville has a sidewalk plan right now - we have delineated our standards and set the bar high - so, why aren't we following it?  


I am so thankful for any move towards a more walkable Nashville but I do sharply question why we are not adhering to our own standards.  Standards that took a lot of detailed thought, time and  money to create.  Standards that would be a vast improvement over our current sidewalk infrastructure.

Case in Point:
Natchez Trace

Natchez Trace, 2014, one year ago.   Note the thin green buffer and the narrow sidewalk on this collector street.  Also note the overgrown bushes making the sidewalk even smaller. 

Natchez trace, from Blair to Woodlawn, is a collector street.  Our Nashville-Davidson County Strategic Plan for Sidewalks & Bikeways states that the preferred sidewalk should be 6 foot wide with a 5 foot green buffer.

New sidewalk on Natchez, March 2015

Natchez Trace recently underwent storm water improvements.  A new sidewalk was put in on the west side of the street.  As you can see, the replacement is in the exact foot print of the prior sidewalk which was NOT to Nashville's standards.  This would have been the opportune time to bring this sidewalk up to standard.


If we truly want Nashville to be more walkable - why are we allowing sub-par sidewalk infrastructure - particularly when the 'gold-standard' in sidewalks has been put forth in our very own plan???  We all know that walking right next to the road on these busy thoroughfares is not a comfortable or safe experience.  We all  understand that the heat of the summer is not ideal for walking and we need ample shade coverage.  This tiny green buffer you see in the photos above will not allow for trees to be planted.


Why does a city like Nashville have a plan to then disregard it?


I ask you to be observant & proactive.  Sidewalk infrastructure has been very slow moving and it will not become cheaper or easier as time goes on.  

When a new sidewalk is being planned in your neighborhood, reference Nashville's standards for sidewalks & assess the project.  If it is not to our standards - call Public Works and your council person immediately! 

Shade Parade Nashville & 
The Sidewalk Foundation are dedicated to:


We hope you are, too.

If you see a sidewalk going in that does not fit the standards - please speak up!  Call Public Works!  Call your Council Person!  Organize your neighborhood!  Donate to The SidewalkFoundation.  Donate to Walk / Bike Nashville.  

  Share this link.  

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Equivalent of Pedestrian Hell in Nashville - A Visual

In Nashville, we have standards in regards to sidewalks.  Referencing The Nashville-Davidson County Strategic Plan for Sidewalks & Bikeways, for arterial streets, the plan states that there should be an 8' sidewalk and a 6' green buffer (p B.8).

If heading south on Hillsboro Road, a busy arterial street in Nashville, conditions for pedestrians start to deteriorate quickly once you leave the Village.  The sidewalk looses its green buffer.  Then, the sidewalk vanishes all together.  

Recently created sidewalk on Hillsboro but without a green buffer at The Enclave.  This sidewalk was created after the 2003 Strategic Sidewalk Plan was created.  There appears to be plenty of space on the building side of the sidewalk for a buffer.  It is unclear why the green buffer would not have been insisted upon.

As you cross over 440, there is a stretch of walking that is as close to hell as I can imagine.  In no way is it safe on foot!  I would never walk with my children here.  If you were disabled, in a wheel chair, hearing impaired or blind, it would certainly be a death trap.  The traffic is thick and fast paced.  The drivers frustrated due to traffic congestion.  

As you can see below, the sidewalk evaporates and there is literally no place to walk that is comfortable or even remotely safe.   This is an unacceptable situation and incredibly dangerous not to mention that it creates such a severe obstacle to pedestrian movement that no one walks here.   

Would you let your kids walk here?  Do you think the city is providing a safe place for all pedestrians to walk here?  Is this compliant with The American With Disability Act???

On a major arterial street in Nashville, why is this condition even allowed to exist?  

  Arguments for completion of this sidewalk gap include:

- It is a halting break in the connection from Hillsboro Village to Green Hills - two of the busiest shopping areas in Nashville. 

- Distance-wise, this is a very walkable span filled with residential lots and it should be connected to improve the vitality of this community.

- This span is in a very affluent area of Nashville with a high tax burden.   The quality of the infrastructure should reflect this.  

- These same citizens spend a lot of time walking loops in their neighborhoods.  What if they could actually walk to a business?  There would be a significant improvement in the flow of traffic.

- This area is one of heated frustration over the level of vehicular traffic.  Many people state that they avoid Green Hills because the traffic is too intense.  Why wouldn't the city want to invest here to make it walkable therefore relieving traffic?  

- It would also improve air pollution and noise pollution.  

Shade Parade Nashville & The Sidewalk Foundation is dedicated to:


If you feel like you would like your tax dollars to improve walking infrastructure in Nashville - please let your council person, Public Works, your neighborhood association and the mayor know.   

If you don't ask - there will be no change in Nashville.   

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Standards Are In Place For Sidewalks In Nashville…So, Why Aren't We Doing Them?

In a similar vein as what I reported yesterday (, we have standards for sidewalk construction but these are not necessarily being implemented here in Nashville.

Again, in the Nashville-Davidson County Strategic Plan for Sidewalks & Bikeways, there are clear recommendations.    

The Strategic Plan recommends:

For local streets: 
---5' wide pedestrian travel way plus a 4' furnishing zone  (AKA 5' sidewalk + 4' greenspace buffer)  

'The five-foot sidewalk provides adequate passing space for the typical volume of pedestrian traffic on a residential street, and the four-foot buffer can sustain trees and offers a comfortable buffer from low-speed, low-volume vehicular traffic, which is desirable on such streets'.

For collector streets:
---6' sidewalk + 5' buffer  

'Collector streets have moderate to high-speed motor vehicle traffic and warrant a wider buffer between pedestrians and moving vehicles to maintain pedestrian comfort.  A five-foot furnishing zone (AKA buffer) is recommended.  Because such streets can have a lot of commercial activity and multiple destination, it is recommended that the width of the pedestrian travel way be increased to six feet, to accommodate a larger volume of pedestrians.

For Arterial streets:
---8' sidewalk + 6' buffer

'Because of the density of development, mix of uses, and urban character on these streets, a high volume of pedestrian activity is expected and needs to be accommodated.  Such streets will have a main street style character where sidewalks are used for many activities in addition to walking.  A furnishing zone width of six feet will accommodate tree wells and furnishings such as benches and bike racks.  To provide for heavy pedestrian traffic, an eight foot wide pedestrian travelway is recommended.  A frontage zone is recommended for this category of street.  The frontage zone provides width for cafe tables, product displays, and room for people to stand and window shop without blocking through-pedestrians'

Nashville-Davison County Strategic Plan for Sidewalks & Bikeways
p B.8
Published in 2008

We have the standards in Nashville.  Standards that would significantly change the landscape for walkers.  Why are we not implementing them?  

This plan is not new.  It was created in 2003 and updated in 2008.  I would strongly argue that retrofitting sidewalks once development is accomplished will not be easier or as visually/physically as satisfying.  With the rapid rate in development, we are loosing the moments where we could put infrastructure for pedestrians in place.    

Where is the green buffer?

Again, no green buffer.

As anyone who has walked our many Nashville roads that lack the green buffer knows, the experience in your sense of safety is quiet different.  When the sidewalk abuts the road directly the quality of the walk changes from one of relaxation and pleasure to a certain level of anxiety.  

Shade Parade Nashville & 
The Sidewalk Foundation are dedicated to:


We hope you are, too.

If you see a sidewalk going in that does not fit the standards - please speak up!  Call Public Works!  Call your Council Person!  Organize your neighborhood!  Donate to The SidewalkFoundation.  Share this link.  

Monday, March 16, 2015

If We Have Standards…Why Isn't Nashville Using Them?

If you haven't noticed, Nashville is booming.  Spreading out from downtown is a city of cranes.

According to The Nashville-Davidson County Strategic Plan for Sidewalks & Bikeways 'construction zones can be challenging to all roadway users'.

'Except in very low-density areas, it is recommended that the presence of pedestrians should be assumed at construction sites and safely accommodated, even on streets where no sidewalk exist.  It is recommended that sidewalks and other pedestrian ways not be used as construction staging areas unless alternate pedestrian routes are provided.

Today, I walked from the corner of 16th and Broadway home.  In the 3.2 miles, I passed 8 construction sites - none of which offered a pedestrian through-fare and many that were using the existing sidewalk as construction staging.  

My question to you - as citizens of Nashville - if we have set standards, why are we not using them?  

Note:  This is a contruction staging area - what appears to be a road or pedestrian path ends in a barricade that you cannot pass through on foot.

Your eyes are not deceiving you - there is actually a toilet on the sidewalk.  

Shade Parade Nashville and The Sidewalk Foundation are for 


If you believe NASHVILLE NEEDS SIDEWALKS - we need your support.