Thinking critically about walking infrastructure is important in city planning. As many of you know, requesting a sidewalk in your neighborhood means years of advocating. If you don't believe this - I am 1.5 years in for advocating for the sidewalk on Bowling Av to be completed (see Sidewalk Project #1 posts). There are so many barriers to sidewalk development in Nashville including cost, previous development (such as rock walls, trees), storm water and fear of change.
If you are very lucky, that sidewalk (hopefully! finally!) gets made. As you can imagine, it would then be a sore disappointment when it is not quiet right. Not exactly fitting with the Nashville-Davidson County Strategic Sidewalk & Bike which delineates a clear and preferred plan for sidewalk designs (see photo below). The preferred design is ADA compliant and ideal for pedestrians as it allows for an ample buffer between the walker and traffic. It also allows for a thick green buffer with full shade coverage - sorely needed during the intensely hot Nashville summer months.
Below is a photo of yet another sidewalk in Nashville that does not have the proper green buffer. This sidewalk at Chet Atkins and 18th (on a local street) is supposed to have a 4' green buffer. As anyone who walks in Nashville knows, having a buffer from traffic makes a significant psychological shift allowing a walk that is relaxing instead of one where you are on guard (especially if you are walking with small children!)
Being critical is not being judgmental. It helps us get it right - the first time. It is up to all of us to advocate for sidewalks but we must also be critical to their proposed design. We need to get involved and to advocate they are done to the best possible standards.