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Saturday, May 9, 2015

Walking Districts in Nashville?

This is my neighborhood at dusk.

What you cannot see is the two women, walking in opposite directions, with their dogs.  They are there - up ahead - as tiny dark shadows.  With the dappled light and sun beams, the walkers do not stand out and it is a challenge to see them.

My neighborhood in Nashville is beautiful.  The tall trees give it a park-like feel.  If not for the cars, particularly the cars that zip through on their way to other locations at a speed that is signficantly higher than 30mph, it really could be a park.

A criticism that can be acurately pointed at Nashville would be why we allowed designated speed limits in residential areas with no sidewalks to be 30mph.  Other cities and walking advocates are starting to create 'Slow Zones' with speed reductions to 20mph in similar areas.  With kids, dogs and older people about and no businesses in these quiet residential areas - there really is no reason to be traveling so fast.  We have allowed cars to take over the roads but I propose that Nashville makes a shift back - letting the pedestrians return to the roads in a safe and comfortable fashion where they do not always have to be on the defensive.


I am highly interested in the idea of changing the quality of a neighborhood by relabeling it a 'Walking District'.  In so doing, we could put decals on the road of pedestrians equivalent to what we do currently for roads were drivers should expect to share with bicycles.  This would alert all drivers that they are entering an area with a high volume of pedestrians.  Drivers would be required to take note and be aware.  Speed limits would be strictly enforced and reduced to 20 mph.  This would allow drivers to see pedestrians easily and to avoid very dangerous collisions. 

In the interim, while a neighborhood is waiting for a sidewalk on their connector streets, this would allow for improved walkability at a very cheap cost.  It's an easy solution in the short term.  Next, we could advocate for Walking Districts to be added to the Sidewalk Priority Index.  Then, those highly walked neighborhoods could feasibly increase their score and get moved up so their connector streets would get sidewalks earlier!

This would be a good opportunity for neighborhoods that are already out their on foot.  Since a lot of neighborhoods do not have sidewalks - it could also help individuals looking to buy a home in a neighborhood with sidewalks - a common refrain I hear from realators when people are looking at Nashville as a place to relocate.

Do you agree?  
Where would you recommend we create the 1st Walking District in Nashville?  

I am voting for the loop on Golf Club, Woodleigh, Forrest Park and Timber.  There are already a ton of walkers here and it has a beautiful park-like appearance.  There are no sidewalks and the shadows make it a challenge to see pedestrians.

I am thinking of doing a series of pop-up walking districts for a month at time - I'd like to do 3 total.  If you have a group together who is willing to host a pop-up Walking District or a location you would like - let's discuss it.

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