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Friday, September 25, 2015

Crowd-Sourced Map - Lets you vote on where infrastructure is needed most

Slowly, I am working on The Sidewalk Foundation is going to have a map where Nashvillians can drop a pin in the locations they think most need sidewalks.  

There will also  be a place to make a donation.  Nashville is booming.  But we are not putting in the infrastructure to make this the best walking city in the South.  Funding seems to be the major impediment to walkability.  We, as a city, can change this...

How a crowd-sourced map changed Kuala Lumpur’s ideas about cycling

How do you go about making a city where 93% of households own a car more bike-friendly? By crowd-sourcing a cycle map – and getting the mayor on board

“Cycling not for leisure, but for transportation, for utility” ... the workings of Jeffrey Lim’s cycle map of Kuala Lumpur.

‘Cycling – not for leisure but for transportation, for utility’ … At work on the KL cycle map. Photograph: Jeffrey Lim

Friday 18 September 2015 03.08 EDTLast modified on Thursday 24 September 2015 10.24 EDT

“I was a bit naive,” admits Jeffrey Lim. “I thought it would be easy.” In Lim’s bright studio in Kuala Lumpur, bike wheels adorn the walls and a large table is spread with maps of Malaysia. Lim, a graphic designer, has spent the past three years mapping the city for cyclists.

To anybody familiar with Kuala Lumpur’s urban sprawl, “naive” might seem like an understatement. As residents will tell you, this is a city built for cars. According to Nielsen, Malaysia has the third highest rate of car ownership in the world – a whopping 93% of households own a car.

“We were a nation which built bicycles. But we forgot,” says Lim. In the 1960s and 70s, rapid urbanisation in Greater Kuala Lumpur saw new highways straddle the city and the suburbs. In the 80s, the invention of a “national” car sealed Kuala Lumpur’s fate as a motorised metropolis.

Yet in recent years, a group of determined cyclists have taken to the roads nonetheless. At night or early in the morning, drivers and motorcylists might be startled to see a convoy of cyclists suddenly appear. Lim – a youthful looking man with spectacles and a focused demeanour – is often among them, helping to shepherd the group.

Every week, new people came. I stopped counting when it went over 50Jeffrey Lim
FacebookTwitterPinterest ‘I was a bit naive. I thought it would be easy’ … Jeffrey Lim. Photograph: Ling Low

Lim first got the idea for a bicycle map in early 2012. He wanted to show how the city could work for cycling – “not for leisure, but for transportation, for utility.” Knowing that most people thought of cycling as “impossible” in the city, he envisioned the map as a tool for advocates. “It was aspirational,” he says. “Because the map would have to come before the infrastructure.”

After getting the word out, Lim designed a blank map of the city to hand out to volunteers. With no dedicated cycle lanes in the city, the idea was for people to explore the routes that were at least possible to cycle, from major roads to unmarked paths. Routes would be marked according to their accessibility for cyclists.

Over a few months, Lim’s studio – which he used to restore vintage bikes – became a weekly gathering point for volunteers. “Every week, new people came. I stopped counting when it went over 50,” he says. “At that point, I had to start a Facebook group specifically for this project.”

Some volunteers reported back with phone calls, some drew sketches, others sent him photos. “Slowly, the map took over my life,” says Lim. He spent months curating the information. Noticing that most of the cyclists were English speakers living in certain urban clusters, he recruited bilingual volunteers to connect with communities in other parts of the city.
FacebookTwitterPinterest The finished product ... Kuala Lumpur cycling maps. Photograph: Jeffrey Lim

After two years and three drafts, the map was completed in September 2014. It was published in three languages – English, Chinese and Malay – and distributed for free, with a print run of 10,000.

From the beginning, the map had been a grassroots project, crowd-sourced with data from the cycling community. But as word of mouth grew, several local councils contacted Lim to find out more. Now he had a new challenge in front of him: to turn the map into real infrastructure.

“It was interesting to see they took it seriously,” says Lim. While the government had talked up cycling in the past, this had largely been lip service. “It was not at the top of their list. Even though it was stated that, yes, cycling and walking were very important, it was not stated what, where and how.”

The bureaucracy of different government layers was another big obstacle. “Federal government, state governments, departments and city councils – they were all pointing fingers at each other,” says Lim.

Kuala Lumpur City Council has opened a 5km cycle lane, and has approved funds for a further two
FacebookTwitterPinterest Lim develops the map with volunteers, including members of the Urban Transportation department at Kuala Lumpur City Council. Photograph: Jeffrey Lim

To go beyond paper-pushing, Kuala Lumpur needed a pinch of luck. That luck was its mayor: Tan Sri Ahmad Phesal Talib, who took office in 2012. The mayor happened to be an avid cyclist and he called Lim in for consultation.

On a breezy morning in April this year, Lim and his volunteers cycled alongside the mayor as he inaugurated Kuala Lumpur’s first official bicycle lane. After more than a year of planning, it was finally open: a 5km cycling corridor connecting the satellite city of Petaling Jaya to the historic centre of Kuala Lumpur.

Kuala Lumpur City Council went on to approve funds for two more cycling lanes in other parts of the city, with a total budget of £765,000. Lim has continued to consult with other city councils around Malaysia.

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“I’m happy the map project is over. I’m happy that we have a document and I’m glad that other people find it useful,” says Lim. “I wanted to change people’s perception about cycling. That was the most important thing.”

Of course, it will be a long time before Kuala Lumpur is a bike-friendly city. To date, there has been no directive from the federal government for a cycling master plan. Lim fears that this will hold back long-term infrastructure, especially since city councils rotate their posts every three years.

But, slowly, a cycling culture is growing here. As well as the new cycle routes, residents now enjoy two car-free mornings in the city every month. There’s also talk of a bicycle festival at the end of the year.

“The map connected all these like-minded people and created a strong community,” says Lim. “It started the ball rolling. No matter how small the move, it’s still a stepping stone for the next move – by whoever.”

Ling Low is editor of Poskod.MY. Follow Guardian Cities on Twitter and Facebookand join the discussion


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Channel 5 News Reporting on Dangers at Crosswalks - Impressive! Plus, Policy Walk 10/2/2015

This is a good representative of why our walkability needs to be high quality.  If you are not an active walker, you may think a simple sidewalk or crosswalk is fine but it takes actually getting out their on foot to see where the design flaws are.  

I applaud this kind of news reporting.  It is accomplishing 2 critical goals:  educating drivers and highlighting design flaws. 

For those who want to be a Pedestrian Advocate and learn more, there is an upcoming Policy Walk on October 2nd, 2015, details below:

Our city is changing every day. All corners are welcoming new people, new buildings going up, new businesses, and new restaurants.   Walking as a means of transportation has become more common and as the use of public transit increases more and more people are walking to and from their bus stops.  Add to this Nashville’s growing recreational walkers and the number of tourists walking about Nashville and at times pedestrians outnumber motorists. 

In 2008, the Nashville Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) was established by an Executive Order<> of Mayor Karl Dean to further Nashville's goal of becoming a bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly city. The board includes a representative from every Metro government department, as well as concerned Nashvillians.  When BPAC was formed it joined the already established non-profit Walk Bike Nashville in championing an increase in safe biking and walking as a significant and beneficial mode of transportation and recreation. 

In this spirit, BPAC and Walk Bike Nashville invite you to join us on a 1.6 mile walk showcasing  the “Successes and Challenges” of pedestrians. The walk will highlight what is working well, like the traffic scramble on lower Broadway and lead pedestrian lights and areas that need improvements, in particular the construction closure of sidewalks and bike lanes, which also negatively impact small businesses in their vicinities. 

Details about the policy walk are as follows:

WHAT: BPAC/Walk Bike Nashville’s Successes-And-Challenges Walk, distance is approximately 1.6 miles
DATE and TIME:  Friday, October 2, from 7:30 a.m. to approximately 9:00 a.m.
BRING:  Comfortable shoes
START AND END POINT: Public Square Park, pastries and coffee will be served.
RSVP:  EventBrite

Questions:  Please contact Mary Pat Teague at or Nora Kerns at

Monday, September 21, 2015

US Surgeon General Gets Involved in Walkability! Should neighborhoods be labled like cigarettes?

You may have wondered why I care so much about walking...well, it comes down to health.  Both physical health and psychological health.  As a physician in Nashville, I meet a lot of people who are unhealthy...and I have real concerns that part of their problem is our built environment.

In Nashville, 75% of our public roadways do not have sidewalks and 88% are described as dangerous for walkers. 

Is it any wonder that people do not walk?

This is in the heart of The Urban Service District in Nashville between the busy Green Hills area and Hillsboro Village.  An easily walkable distance... but would you walk here?

What if we labeled unwalkable neighborhoods like we do cigarettes?

9 Sep 2015 | Posted by Stephen Lee Davis |

The Surgeon General of the United States will unveil a bold new initiative today, aiming to help Americans lead healthier lives — by making walking and physical activity built-in features of more of our neighborhoods.

At a press conference at 10 a.m. this morning the U.S. Surgeon General will kick off a new national Call to Action, urging cities and towns to consider how the design of our roads and public spaces can encourage more walking by making it easier, safer and more convenient. (Tune into the live webcast of the event at 10 a.m. EDT.) To show how significant an issue this is to the Surgeon General, today’s announcement is only the sixth such Call to Action in the last 10 years.
surgeon general warning

According to the Surgeon General’s office, only half of American adults get enough physical activity to reduce the risk of chronic disease, and 10 percent of the preventable deaths in the United States are related to lack of physical activity. Communities that lack safe places to walk are a part of this problem.

What if we labeled unwalkable neighborhoods like we do cigarettes? A similar call from the Surgeon General in 1964 was the watershed event that kicked off a decades-long decline in cigarette use. Could today’s Call to Action do the same for communities without safe places to walk?

What if we put states, cities and towns on notice that streets and roads that are dangerous by design for people on foot or bike are a prime contributor to the obesity epidemic (as well as a contributing factor in an alarming number of fatalities)? What if we prioritized sidewalks and crosswalks the same way we do sunscreen, “no smoking” signs, and preventing underage drinking?

Help us celebrate this important step forward: share today’s announcement with friends and colleagues:

The Surgeon General’s position makes it clear that America needs more than a simple call to “get out and exercise.” We need to build communities where walking is a safe and convenient option — so getting where you need to go can help you stay physically active and healthy.

The good news is that the tide is turning in communities of all types and sizes all over the country. Small towns, rural, suburban and urban areas are reinvesting in their downtown cores and creating vibrant walkable neighborhoods like never before and reaping the benefits of better walking and biking infrastructure. We still need to do more to encourage walking, but there’s clearly huge pent-up demand for walkable neighborhoods and high-quality facilities that anyone can use.

People want to walk, and they increasingly want to live and work in places where it’s a convenient option.

Since Indianapolis’s Cultural Trail, a high-quality biking and walking trail, opened in 2008 the value of properties within a block have increased an astonishing 148 percent. Last week, the Atlanta-Journal Constitution published a special package about the amazing demand for homes near the still-in-progress Beltline project that will eventually encircle the city with trails and transit. Nashville’s metropolitan planning organization recently began considering health criteria as they select transportation projects in the hopes of helping improve the health of residents over the next few decades as they grow. Washington State adopted a Vision Zero plan to reduce pedestrian deaths to zero. Making their vision a reality includes not just educating drivers about pedestrian and bike safety but also re-designing streets and roads to slow traffic and give folks walking and biking safe and attractive facilities to use.

There’s far more to do, though. While these stories are encouraging, the lowest-income neighborhoods across the country are the ones more likely to lack sidewalks, crosswalks or other facilities to keep residents safe.

Help celebrate this important call to action. Share this post and image with your friends and family and colleagues.


Sunday, September 20, 2015

Unique and Powerful Intervention...With Flowers.

One thing worth fighting is good design.  When it comes to sidewalks and bikelanes, if there is an intrinsic flaw in the design, it can be dangerous, little used, expensive and permanent. 

Consider sidewalks built directly next to high speed roads without any green buffer.  

New 1.4 mile stretch on Harding Place near I-24.  Imagine walking here with small 
children.  Cars are zipping by at 40 miles per hour on their way to the expressway.

One false step and your child is in the road.

Now, imagine if there was a few feet of green buffer - essentially a strip of grass and trees that separate you from the traffic.  Psychologically, this is a significant difference and a much safer (and cooler - literally cooler with the shade created) environment to spend time on foot.

Contrast the above image with the next image that includes a green buffer.
See the difference?

Understandably, the later project, with the green buffer, is likely more expensive but with the permanency of such projects and the cost involved, shouldn't our goal be to build the better designed project  so that people actually use it?


I like this guys take on a similar problem.  

A Guerrilla Bike Lane Made With Flower Pots Forces A City's Hand

A cyclist in Boston was sick of a dangerous stretch of road that the city refused to fix, so he took on the matter himself.
For Boston cyclists, Massachusetts Avenue can be a terrifying place to ride—drivers routinely ignore the stripes marking the bike lane and swerve into the path of bikes. After a truck driver recently killed one young bike commuter, the city promised to add some simple barriers to the lane. But they were slow to act.
So another bike commuter decided to take on the problem himself: On his way to work in Harvard Square, Jonathan Fertig dropped off a line of orange construction cones and potted flowers along the edge of the bike lane.
"I've been growing increasingly frustrated over the past year," says Fertig, who saw progress on bike infrastructure in the city start to slow when a new mayor came into office.
"When a young woman was killed by a truck driver last month while riding the route that I ride every day it hit me in an unexpectedly personal way," he says. "I was searching for a way that I could do something to amplify to fury that many of us in the walking and cycling advocacy community were feeling."
He picked up a copy of Tactical Urbanism, a book that lays out urban interventions like DIY bike lanes. Inspired, he "just decided to drop some cones in the buffer of the newly installed bike lane. In an instant, cars were no longer using the bike lane as a turning lane."
The flowers have a symbolic connection to the memorial at the corner, where a ghost bike has a flower-filled basket. "Flowers are also beautiful and entirely non-confrontational in their own right," Fertig says. "I liked the concept of using them in an act of civil disobedience. ... I am a child of hippies, after all."
The intervention worked—at least for a small stretch of the road. "It's a joy for 200 feet, until you reach the corner where the terror resumes," he says. "I've had countless people tell me online that the intervention made a big difference."
Less than a week after he installed the cones and flowers, the city came out to add flexible posts (they still have yet to paint the lane green or add green bike boxes, two other promises the transportation department made). But Fertig, like many other cyclists in the area, thinks the lane could be much safer—and probably should be fully separated with a permanent barrier.
He also wanted to draw attention to how slow the city was to act. "While re-engineering the intersection in any capacity within a month would typically be considered a very quick response, they only did so because of the fatality, and it was thus reactionary," he says. "The city—and the advocates that helped crunch the data—have known for two years that the intersection has one of the highest crash rates for cyclists and pedestrians in the whole city, yet they had done nothing."
As a continuing protest, he added more flowers to the new flexible posts.
He's also raising money to add more interventions down Massachusetts Avenue—which he calls the most dangerous stretch of road in the city. In the first two days, the campaign raised more than $3,000.


Saturday, September 19, 2015

AMAZING IDEA! Reflective paint never looked so great!

I am in LOVE!

While waiting for Nashville to build roads that are safe for all...this is a wonderful idea for pedestrians too.


And, remember to walk AGAINST TRAFFIC when on foot in areas without sidewalks (75% of Nashville's roads lack sidewalks) for best visibility and the highest level of safety.  


Albedo 100 Reflective Spray Invisible Bright is a very similar product for sale on Amazon.

Friday, September 18, 2015

#DontBlockMyWalk at Walk/Bike Nashville


Walk Bike Nashville is currently running a campaign with the name #DontBlockMyWalk which is a quick way to help advocate for better walkability in Nashville.  


In addition to construction blocking sidewalks, there are a number of repeated offenses by citizens and businesses leading to blocked  pedestrians thoroughfares.

 The corner of 24th S and Blakemore (at Dragon Park) is a location that continues to frustrate me as there is almost always a car parked smack in the middle of the crosswalk.  Although not a blocked sidewalk per se, you can see that this disallows free mobility on foot.  Worse, if you are using a stroller or wheel chair, the curb cut is completely blocked off. 

This kind of blockage seems to be in the same spirit as the campaign and deserves attention.

Walk Bike Nashville's excellent advice:

If you see a sidewalk that is closed with no safe, alternative route please share it on social media with the hashtag #DontBlockMyWalk.  Give the address or cross street.   You can also consider adding the location and tagging Walk Bike Nashville (@walkbikenash), Metro Public Works (@NashvillePW) and the Mayor's Office (@MOON_Nashville). Also consider tagging your district and at-large council members to let them know that this is a concern. If you don't use social media, you can also still email your council member to let them know of your concern.  

Additional Steps:

- Call Non-Emergency Police (615-862-8600) --- to report issue, ask for ticketing.  They will need address or cross streets.  If it is a car blocking, they will need the make, model and color of car.  Best to have plates, too.
- Call the police precinct of the area to ask for extra patrol if issue is persistent 
- Public works takes calls (615-862-8750) and emails ( with photos) as well  Best to have as many details as possible. 

Unless these entities know that you care about walkability issues, don't expect much to change.


Two additional and frequently spotted issues in Nashville:

1) Cars parked on sidewalks
2) Trash buggies on sidewalks

Any large obstacle on the sidewalk means walkers are going to have to risk safety and go into the road. I encourage you to notice anything that blocks your walk and report it.  


The fact is, everyone in Nashville is a pedestrian.  Yet, unlike cyclist, we are a group that is not especially advocate minded.  In regards to pedestrians, we have allowed Nashville to become the 15th most dangerous city in the US and a place where 88% of our public roadways are not safe.  


Thursday, September 17, 2015

Car-less Campaign Here in Nashville! Are you willing to take the pledge?

Must be shared...Maybe your neighborhood is next?

This Nashville neighborhood is ditching its cars for a week

Sep 16, 2015, 1:25pm CDT

Scott HarrisonStaff ReporterNashville Business Journal

One Nashville neighborhood is pledging to leave their cars in the driveway, or curbside, next week.

The Nations Neighborhood Association is launching its “Don’t Car Campaign” starting this weekend. More than 30 members of the West Nashville neighborhood will go without their cars from Sept. 19 to Sept. 25.

Several residents of The Nations have pledged to give up their cars for a week.


Jamie Brown, an attorney with Bass Berry & Sims and member of the Nations Neighborhood Association board, said the idea started from the new developments going on in the area.

The residential density is getting higher. One [house] goes down and two or three go up,” she said. “Now we’re starting to see condominium and apartment units.“

“Parking has been a big issue here,” Brown added. “We’re worried about how [new development] is going to affect our overflow parking in the street. We don’t have sidewalks in our neighborhood. The developers keep telling us this is a walkable neighborhood, saying it’s close to downtown. … We wanted to test that concept.”

The Nations’ car-less campaign touches on a few hot-button issues that Nashville’s frantic real estate development boom and economic growth have brought to the forefront: An existing mass-transit system that is deemed by Nashville MTA to be inadequate for the city’s expanding population. That goes hand-in-hand with the general walkability of the city’s neighborhoods, not to mention bike lanes.

As Brown describes it, the campaign is meant to do several things. For starters, the Nations neighborhood group hopes it will spread to other communities in Nashville.

“People in other neighborhoods have reached out and told us this is a great idea,” Brown said. “We hope the campaign could be done by other neighborhoods.”

The group wants to challenge transportation norms and test the limits of public transportation within the Nations, whether it’s getting downtown for work or running to the store for groceries. Those participating in the campaign will also be documenting their experiences.

Brown recently moved back to Nashville in 2013, after going to law school from 2007 to 2010. She says she has a few plans to get work at downtown’s Pinnacle building next week.