As many Shade Parade readers know, I have been reading Happy City by Charles Montgomery. The book has recently veered off into a section on bike riding - typically not my jam - although I am highly supportive of it for others. The book is brimming with wonderful quotes including: 'So if we really care about freedom for everyone, we need to design for everyone - not just the brave'. This sentence was prefaced by a bit about bicycle riding on modern streets being the stress equivalent of riding a roller coster. This, I can attest to as I have been trying to ride more often after reading about how we have literally allowed our transportation options to be designed out of our cities.
'If you woke up this morning and decided to try a completely different method of getting to work, could you do it?
Could you walk there?
Ride a bicycle?'
This lack of freedom gets to me. I feel, living in the Urban Service District in Nashville, I should have urban options. I should be able to walk and bike comfortably to work, to shopping, to my children's school, to playgrounds and to public transportation. Otherwise, why call it urban? Why be taxed at a higher rate?
After reading that bicycling, at an average rate of nine to twelve miles per hour, 'cyclist achieve the same average speeds as drivers (and even shorter trip times, if you take into account time spent parking),' I thought I would put it to the test. Bicycle to work. On a Tuesday. During rush hour both ways. And, I was amazed that riding took EXACTLY the amount of time it takes to drive. TO THE MINUTE.
Like the book suggests, I understand that biking is not for everyone. It truly is for the bravest individuals. My heart was beating like a drum when I arrived at my office from the adrenaline (I had to ride in rush hour on Woodmont from Hillsboro to One Hundred Oaks - those in Nashville will know what I mean by it being busy, 40mph and very narrow but I will say it was less harry than I imagined it would be).
Despite my recent adventures on a bicycle, my interest is more in tune with a mode of transportation for everyone - that is why my passion is truly tied to walkability. Everyone is a pedestrian. I am putting my hopes and dreams in a mayor who will make it her or his thing to fund sidewalks in a truly meaningful way. If we don't get a mayor in Nashville who funds the sidewalk plan, I then hope that council is ready to run with it!
I encourage you to get involved: talk to your council person, write to the mayor. Call public works - you can request an evaluation for a sidewalk and a running of the Sidewalk Priority Index on a site that you believe is lacking.
'We are the ones we have been waiting for'
- June Jordan
Shade Parade is for well designed sidewalks in
all of Nashville
- Our pilot project is to complete Bowling Av from West End to its terminus at Woodmont
- We are working on 2 projects for Walk Nashville Mo in Oct: ---Pop Up Walking Districts
---Having individuals, with the help of crowdsourcing and volunteers, put in their own piece of sidewalk to start the process of sidewalk 'gap' creation on high volume streets.
You can help.