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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Artists + Walking = Enhanced Productivity! Nashville, this is for you…

As many of you instinctively know, taking a brisk walk can be helpful.  If you are stuck on an issue or are dulled by stagnation, getting up and out on foot can break you free of your conundrum. 

 I am amazed at how often a productive person's daily routine involves walking and I wanted to share some of these here. In reading Daily Rituals by Mason Currey, a clever collection of artist's daily routines, the word WALK appears on almost every page.  This goes to show that walking is an integral part of the creative process and a city that regards itself as 'Music City' should consider walkability a very valuable & sought after muse.


Oliver Sacks, author of Awakenings, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, Musicophilia and Hallucinations reports that he gets up at 5am, swims  or 'otherwise will be deflected by busyness or laziness', has breakfast and then gets to work.  At lunch, he takes a brief break, WALKS around the block, practices piano, then sits down to his meal.  

When Donald Barthelme, a writer from Houston, became stuck, he would 'head out for a twenty- or thirty-minute WALK in the neighborhood.'

Willem de Kooning would 'spend most of the night PACING the dark streets of Manhattan.'

Carson Mccullers would typically work until the middle of the afternoon, then went for a LONG WALK.  

Jackson Pollock would stay in his studio until 5 or 6pm, then emerge for a beer and a WALK to the beach.  

James T. Farrell would WALK his wife to the bus stop every morning.  As the bus pulled away, he would hit the back and blow kisses to her to the amusement of the other riders.  

Willa Cather believed in keeping herself 'fit, fresh:  one has to be in as good form to write as to sing.'  She accomplished this by taking WALKS in Central Park.  

Do you use walking in your daily routine?  If not, these highly productive people would argue that you should.  They also would make a very convincing argument that a creative city should also be a wonderfully walkable city.  

Nashville, this means you!

From:  Daily Rituals by Mason Currey

Monday, June 29, 2015

If Nashville is to be a Great Creative City, it NEEDS to be Walkable

If Nashville is to be a Great Creative City, it NEEDS to be Walkable.

Walking, apparently, is an integral part of the creative life.  Currently, I am reading a book that focuses on the 'manufacturing rather than the meaning' of art & I am astounded by how often the simple act of walking it utilized by all types of creative types on a  daily basis.  This suggests that if Nashville wants to continue to woo creative types, we really need to offer them an exceptional walking experience.

The goal of Daily Rituals by Mason Currey is to 'provide examples of how a variety of brilliant and successful people have confronted many of the same challenges' - (lack of time, income, sleep - to devote yourself wholly to a project or set aside a small portion of time each day).  'To show how grand creative visions translate to small daily increments; how one's working habits influence the work itself, and vice versa'.

As I move through life with an eye out for pedestrian issues, I have come to believe that a great creative city must have great walkability.  Over the next few weeks, I'll post as many walking quotes as I can find gleaned from these glimpses into the routines of artists.

'Routine, in an intelligent man, is a sign of ambition,' - W.H. Auden

Daily Rituals by Mason Currey


Saturday, June 27, 2015

Another Sidewalk Goes in But…Ok, Now I am Mad!

I don't get mad often but these days, nothing makes me madder than seeing sidewalks go in like this…this is so far from what is truly desired and I see it as a huge missed opportunity to do it right.  

Harding Place between I 65 & I-24.

NOTE:  the very large expanse of green ON THE INTERIOR SIDE of the sidewalk BUT NO BUFFER near the road!

Nashville is hot!  The cars move fast & are not savvy about pedestrians!  Walking in the blazing sun right next to the road without any buffer (i.e. tree coverage providing shade and a barrier to the cars) is not comfortable or enticing.  If you have children, it is very nerve racking as they could dart or fall into the road too easily.   You have to be on constant patrol instead of taking a refreshing stroll.   

Two more examples on Hillsboro Rd of a sidewalk directly abutting a roadway.  Watch the video for a real-time experience of what it is like to walk on a sidewalk WITHOUT a green buffer.

This is window dressing pure and simple.  Expensive window dressing.  Sadly, it also feeds anti-sidewalk beliefs.   One of the reasons people tell me they oppose sidewalk production is that they say they see so few people using them.  They see so few because we have literally allowed poor design to be utilized rather than advocating for well designed sidewalks that actually encourage walking rather than dissuade. 

Honestly, walking on this:

Is not that far off from walking on this:

I encourage you to try it and make up your own mind.  


Earlier this week, I wrote about how you can get a sidewalk put in your neighborhood.

With a heavy heart, this sidewalk on Harding fits the details as it was put in after a father was struck and killed walking to the grocery.  

I cannot encourage you more:  when you hear that a sidewalk is going into your community - make sure that it is per the Sidewalk Strategic Plan!  We have a great plan with very well documented good design practices that explicitly states the dimensions of the sidewalk AND THE GREEN BUFFER that is ideal per road type.

Once a sidewalk is put in - the dimensions are essentially fixed.

With SHADE & Without.  Where would you rather walk?

The goal of SHADE PARADE is to get people talking about walking in Nashville.  We are currently rated the 15th most dangerous city in America in regards to pedestrian vs vehicle crashes resulting in death.  We have an a weight issue:  40% are obese or overweight.  We have our share of air quality alerts.  Compared to sister cities that share our same population, we are woefully deficient in sidewalks (just 1/8 mile of sidewalk on both sides for every 1 mile of roadway).  We complain a lot about our traffic woes.    

And, yet, we are growing and building at an amazingly brisk pace.  
If we want a more walkable city we need high quality well designed walking infrastructure not sub par infrastructure that is not very usable.  We are currently building sidewalks at a snails pace (this year we are projected to build 6.75 miles of new sidewalks for an area containing 2652 miles of roadway).   Sidewalks are terribly expensive and do not appear to be getting cheaper any time soon (between $250-350 per linear foot)   We don't make developers put in their piece of sidewalk to aid in creating a meaningful grid as we allow them to opt out with a much cheaper option (in-lieu fee).  We don't even have our own Public Works building sidewalks to our own Strategic Sidewalk Plan!

Why then do we allow the building of sidewalks with poor design in Nashville? 


Friday, June 26, 2015

Is There Something That Has Been Bothering You?

Is there something that has been bothering you?  

Now seems to be the time to call/email Public Works with your concern.  They have been amazingly responsive lately.  

When I am walking, I keep a mental list of things that slow me down.  Sometimes, I'll stop and take a picture.   You can either call these issues in or fill out a customer service request.  

Recently, when walking from Hillsboro Village to the Green Hills area on Woodlawn, my stroller literally became stuck and I had to push it into the road and then back onto the sidewalk.  This sidewalk is filled with nuisances - the mailboxes and planters are really hard to get around and there is no green buffer to provide shade and a barrier from the roadway.  I sent in a request about this and it was fixed in about a week's time.  The mailbox issue obviously still exists but, without the sign, now we can at least get by on the grass side rather than having to swing out into the road. 

There are only 5 inspectors at Public Works to look for all the issues.  If you don't call - the chances are pretty low that they will find an issue that is personally bothering you.

According to the area MPO, there are 2652 miles of roadways in Nashville.  On these roads, there is approximately 1/8 of mile of sidewalk per mile of roadway on both sides.  Any walker knows, these sidewalks are poorly connected, randomly designed and often in disrepair.  People ask me all the time how to get a sidewalk in their neighborhood.  You start by calling/emailing Public Works and talking with your neighbors.

Public Works
750 S 5th St, Nashville, TN 37206
(615) 862-8750


Thursday, June 25, 2015

How To Get A Sidewalk in Your Neighborhood - a sarcastic view

People often ask me how they can get a sidewalk in their neighborhood.  If I am being sarcastic, I must say - have enough pedestrians struck and injured/killed - then, you will get it.  

Rightfully so, in Nashville there is laser beam of focus on areas where latent demand and stinging need causes people to risk walking even though it is clearly dangerous.  

Areas like these where there has been a significant number of pedestrian vs vehicle crashes get the sidewalks first as they should.  


That being said, there are so many areas in Nashville that are bubbling with pent-up demand for walkability but where need may be less.  What I mean by this is - the people who can - drive.  They have options.  Therefore, there is little crash data for these areas because no one would dare walk given another, much safer, option.

This is Nashville's Urban Service District

This is Nashville's Urban Service District

When are we going to fund the Strategic Sidewalk Plan in a significant way?  

The current budget of 25 million will lead to 6.75 miles of new sidewalks for next year for the entire city of Nashville/Davidson Co.  And, I tell you, the future is not going to be cheaper.  Since I have been writing about sidewalks the average cost per linear foot has changed, according to Public Works, from $250 per linear foot to $350.

I encourage you to ask this question of every individual running for public office.  When they come knocking at your door - question them on this topic.  Let them know that walkability is issue #1 for you.  Now is the time.  

Nashville is a city where, for every mile of roadway, we have just 1/8 of a mile of sidewalks.  Often these sidewalks are not connected, are located on a single side of the road and are in poor repair.  These are terrible statistics and it puts Nashville near the bottom of walkable cities.

We are also the 15th most dangerous city in the US for walkers - another statistic that is abysmal.  


For information on Nashville's ranking as the 15th most dangerous city in the US for pedestrians:

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

How Do We Change: Walk to Work?

A while back, at a Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) meeting, I was startled to hear that the average Nashvillian does 3-4 active minutes per day.  This struck a cord.  Routinely, after a full & busy day of work in a clinic, with parking in the very back of a quite large lot, I will often see a report on my Fitbit like this:

With this knowledge, I have been persistently looking for ways to add active minutes in my day without extending it.  Inexplicably, my work does not have an option to take stairs although I work only a single floor up - so, I cannot do this commonly recommended activity.  I have tried riding my bike which is not my 1st preference & therefore I tend to opt out of it.  

By far, my 1st preference is to walk.

Recently, I have started parking a mile from my office and finishing my trip on foot twice a week.  This is surprisingly complicated!

I typically park off of Woodmont/Thompson Lane and take the remainder of the trip to One Hundred Oak along this route.

I have to say the view upon entering Berry Hills is less than welcoming when you arrive on foot.

The CDC recommends at least 30 minutes of physical activity.  Here in Nashville, we have literally allowed physical activity to literally be designed out of our lives.

Parking a mile away lets me easily add more than 30 minutes of exercise to my work day but I think my current route is only for the brave and committed.

My point is, we have tailored our public spaces for single use:  to move cars.  We have trimmed out the ability to share these public spaces for other healthier modes of transportation and that is not fair or right.  It is also frankly old-fashioned as modern cities are moving more and more towards walkability and less towards having high volumes of fast moving cars moving through their communities.  



Monday, June 22, 2015

Before & After - Hillsboro Road: Making Strides…

Even though it isn't perfect, it is getting better - and, it shows.  A recent walk from one end of Green Hills to the other down Hillsboro Rd and up Hillsboro Circle showed notable improvements with many more pedestrians out and about (Yay!).



As always, I am striving for the best and I did see that the new sidewalks did not incorporate a buffer of a size that can support shade providing trees - a kind of bitter pill to me (this blog is called SHADE Parade!).  My recent walk was on a beautifully breezy day but I have real worries about the heat islands that these places will become.  If you are not aware of heat islands, I will introduce you:  consider walking next to 4-6 lanes of traffic (hot exhausting cars) on black concrete, in the blazing sun at noon in July.  With no shade cover, you have most definitely created a dead sidewalk here in the south as no one, with a choice, would choose this inferno over their air conditioned single passenger vehicle.   Heat islands are bad news for walkers. 

Shade is a must.     

The Davidson County Strategic Sidewalk Plan was created in 2003 & updated in 2008. It has clearly defined goals for the look & design of a sidewalk depending on the street type. We know what's best & yet we, in Nashville, seem to continually build sidewalks that do not fit this ideal. As anyone who has tried to get a sidewalk in their neighborhood knows, it is very very difficult to do & I would encourage you in my strongest
language to insist on sidewalks being built to this plan to allow for shade coverage.

For a quick review of the Heat Island Effect visit:


I want to thank heartily Planning, Public Works and the numerous individuals and groups such as Angie Henderson, Walk/Bike Nashville and The Green Hills Action Partners who have negotiated endlessly to make GH more walkable.  I am sure there were many more behind the scenes who I am not aware of - and, I thank them, too.

In addition, I want to thank Helga Menisci for putting her heart out there in a piece about her lovely daughter.  Her review & comments on the area were so sharp - certainly from the mother's eye.  I truly believe her story helped make the changes you see here.  

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Personal Space

Took a long walk today as I am want to do and noted something…You see the bumper stickers that say, 'Give them 3 feet' referring to bicyclists but what are the rules for pedestrians?

A simple walk ~ a 4 mile loop from my house to Green Hills and back, taking about an hour and a half, requires me to walk on a lot of roads that lack sidewalks.   

In these situations, a pedestrian is supposed to walk against traffic which allows for some waving to help the drivers see you.  

Many drivers respectfully move over but many do not.  

So, what's the rule?

A quick search yields little.  I am going to assume the law states that a driver needs to give a bicyclist AND a pedestrian 3 feet by law.

If anyone knows the law on this issue - please let me know.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Front Porch Living in Nashville

In Nashville, when walking, the thing that makes it interesting and fun is the people.  The people you pass,  those working in their yards and the people sitting on their front porches.  Sadly, the latter is surprising rare.

Most walks are a bit like walking through the desert - not a soul in site.


The next time you reach for the remote, consider sitting out on your front porch instead.  The people walking by are their own sort of interesting entertainment.  Equally, the people on porches are a source of excitement and fascination for the walkers.  


Shade Parade is for well designed sidewalks & the best walkability possible 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
--- and 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 with limited sidewalk infrastructure.

You can help.

'We are the ones we have been waiting for'
- June Jordan

Monday, June 1, 2015

Pop Up Walking Districts / Pilot Sidewalk Infrastructure - coming soon in Oct for Walk Nashville Month!

Every year, Nashville celebrates Walk Nashville Month.  Hopefully, some day in the near future, this won't really be needed as Nashvillians will have the infrastructure in place so that they can easily weave walking into their lifestyle.

Until then, we must forge ahead with planned events to highlight our needs and our solutions.

To highlight need, I am looking for 3 pilot sidewalks to be installed in areas with a lot of walkers but missing sidewalks.  This would be completed to Public Work specifications by volunteers and financed through crowd sourcing.  The areas I am looking at are:

- Bowling Av
- 51st
- Graybar

I have a call out to a wonderful Landscape Architect who I hope will be helpful and we are looking into ideas such as permeable concrete with a rain garden element.  If you would like to have this done at your house & you live in an area with a lot of latent demand for walkability - please let me know and we can start the planning process.

To highlight solutions, I am also looking for 3 areas with a high volume of walkers on quiet residential streets who may not have immediate need for sidewalks but would benefit for creating a 'Slow Zone' - allowing walkers to feel safe on these streets.  I've entitled this project "Pop-Up Walking Districts'. 


The Pop-Up Walking District in my neighborhood has been given the name Timber Park.  Not long ago, I was passed an older gentleman and he said he loved to walk in the neighborhood because it reminded him of a public park with its tall trees.  This idea rolled around in my head for a while and popped out as a lovely way of making our public spaces - the roads - into park infrastructure.

The project would require a temporary reduction in speed limit to 20 mph, chalked in pedestrian icons on the road ways (equivalent of the bike icons for bike ways) and signage as you enter and leave the district.  I envisage the signage being hand made and fitting with the character of the neighborhood.

The areas I am looking at for this project are:

- Timber Park (Timber, Golf Club, Woodleigh, Forrest Park)
- Graybar
- The Nations
- Sylvan Park

Let me know if you want to help with this or if you have a location that you would think is fitting.  


Want better walkability in Nashville - here is your chance to help!

'We are the ones we have been waiting for'
- June Jordan