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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? 


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