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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.  

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