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Sunday, January 31, 2016

Nashville Needs Sidewalks

Do you think Nashville Needs Sidewalks? Many of these photos are in the Urban Service District of Nashville.  Do you believe you could safely walk here?  Would you feel invited to walk here?





















Enjoy spotting these signs around town?  Do you agree?  

Want one?  Have a good place for a sign like this?

thesidewalkfoundation.org  (coming soon)
thesidewalkfoundation@gmail.com

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https://www.facebook.com/shadeparadenashville/?fref=ts
https://www.facebook.com/nashvillesidewalks/













Friday, January 29, 2016

Many Things Learned While Out on Foot...You?




Enjoyed this article - we have very similar issues here in Nashville! Thanks to Mike for sharing it with me.

***


15 things I’ve Learned in 1500 Miles of Stroller Running

by Evan Roberts on January 1, 2016 

    1. It’s way easier to get a child into a stroller than a car seat.

    2. Most Minnesota drivers ignore the crosswalk laws (they do in Nashville, too!). But they’re more likely to stop for you when you have a stroller. There are two interpretations of this pattern. Strollers
     genuinely make you more visible. Or, there’s a lot of chosen ignorance of the crosswalk law.

  1. Drivers are getting better at stopping at this crosswalk.
    Drivers are getting better at stopping at this crosswalk.


  2. 3. Distracted walking really is a thing. People wander all over the sidewalk without checking oncoming or passing traffic (I'd argue that without a true culture of walking, people never really learn where their body is in space). But we’ve only clipped 1 person a year.

  3. 4. Minneapolis and St. Paul have some excellent trails that get plowed well enough to stroller run most of the winter (temperature permitting).

  1. A plowed path all to ourselves!
    A plowed path all to ourselves!


    5. If you’re going to take the kid out on cold (below freezing) days, invest in a wheat bag warmer. Heat it in the microwave and it’ll keep the kid toasty warm for an hour or more. Needless to say, below about 45°F you should have a weather shield on the stroller.

    6. A lot of intersections have poorly thought out curb ramps, or none at all.

    7. I know tactile paving at intersections is a good thing, but it’s a little annoying with a running stroller. The plank road near the Stone Arch bridge is even worse.

  1. Lift the front wheel up as you take a stroller over the plank road.
    Lift the front wheel up as you take a stroller over the plank road.


    8. You can fit a lot of stuff in the bottom of a stroller. Once you’re pushing 50 lbs of stroller and child, why not add 20 lbs of groceries? It’s already going to be slow going up any hills.


    9. If you’re a toddler, downtown Minneapolis’ combination of light rail lines (wish we had here!) and construction sites is incredibly exciting.

  1. Running with your kid in a stroller is a great way to get around taking photos of construction sites.
    Running with your kid in a stroller is a great way to get around taking photos of construction sites.

    10.  Most people aren’t active commuting their kids to daycare. But a lot of parents seem to want to, given the number of wistful conversations I’ve had about “how lucky you are.” I think their kids want to as well (see point 1). But daycare drop-off is not the time or place to talk about changing our zoning so more people can live close to work and stores. Or maybe it is …
  2. About 5% of the kids at our daycare get there by bike or stroller.
    About 5% of the kids at our daycare get there by bike or stroller.



    11. You can have much more of a conversation with your kid when you’re running than when you’re driving (agreed!).

    12. Children have a good sense of direction and geography at a remarkably young age ( totally agree - I have a great sense of direction and I believe it comes from all the walking and biking I did as a child).

    13. Physics: On the flat without a lot of wind I can run pretty close to my normal pace, but up a hill or into the wind, things slow down significantly. And running with an empty stroller is actually harder because the weight and balance is all off.

    14. Don’t bother taking a puncture kit with you, but do have your phone and wallet with you; and have a puncture kit and spare tubes at home.

    15. A lot of our city must be awful to navigate in a wheelchair or with other mobility impairments, and especially in winter (Nashville - this is you!).


    Streets.mn is a non-profit and is volunteer run. We rely on your support to keep the servers running. If you value what you read, please consider becoming a member.
LINK:

http://streets.mn/2016/01/01/15-things-ive-learned-in-1500-miles-of-stroller-running/


Do you have things you have learned out on foot?  Share them here...




Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Nashville's Non-ADA Compliant Sidewalks 2016

Sidewalks and walkability do not necessarily inspire advocacy.  They are something that is typically taken for granted.   

Post-WWII, Nashville built quickly and did not put in sidewalk infrastructure thinking it unnecessary as the culture was focused on the automobile.  Similar to today, we are building at a rapid rate without thought to putting in the proper infrastructure.  

In 2001, the sidewalk in-lieu fee was created to allow developers to pay a drastically reduced fee rather than build the sidewalk required when they developed properties.  Unfortunately, there are big questions about this practice today because we don't have the sidewalks to show for it.  The fees collected have amounted to very little.  The success of this program is long overdue for a very thorough evaluation process as the city, outside the Urban Service District is impressively lacking.  

I, for one, would like to see the in-lieu fee either be 100% of the cost of the sidewalk or, preferably, to just eliminate the idea and have developers build their piece of the sidewalk.  This could be done quickly with an executive order from the mayor's office.


***

Nashville resident, Helga Maneschi is a natural sidewalk advocate.  She is a committed walker - often traveling long distances on foot.  She also is the mother of a child who requires a wheelchair.   I invite you to take a good look at her post below.  

A reminder to all Nashvillans, our city was sued for American with Disabilities Act Non-Compliance and settled around the year 1999.  The Strategic Sidewalk Plan came out of this suit in 2002 and was then updated in 2008.  It is currently, yet again, up for review.

Unfortunately, in the year 2016 (17 years later!!!), we are essentially in the same situation - we have not made a significant change in walkability most notably outside our urban core.  The neighborhoods are frankly abysmal as the photos below show.  

The pictures below are from our major shopping district in Nashville - the Green Hills area.  It is also an area of high traffic.  This area is ripe in revenue and surrounded by fairly expensive homes.  And, yet, it still exists in a state that is far from ideal.



http://nashville-sidewalks.blogspot.com


We invite you to take a tour through the Green Hills Mall district. Imagine that you were in a wheelchair, were visually impaired , walk with a walker, or have your children in tow with a stroller.

   
There is a safe and usable sidewalk between Abbott Martin Rd and Robert Jones Rd without obstructions
Unfortunately, large sections of the sidewalks on both side of Hillsboro Pike are not 
accessible to everyone 
Some examples: Hillsboro Pike in front of Exxon Station
Here one would have to move into the grassy area to avoid the obstacles

Hillsboro Pike in front of Corzine and Company / Grace Plaza

 The same place from a different angle

Not enough space to navigate a wheelchair or a stroller

Hillsboro Pike in front of Wine and Spirits / Grace Plaza

In front of the new Pottery Barn

In front of Village Green

____________________________________________________________________________________________________ 

OPPOSITE SIDE OF HILLSBORO PIKE
Hillsboro Pike in front of  the Exxon Station close to Hobbs Road 

Same view from the opposite side


In front of Exxon Station - Sidewalk severely slanted

In front of Tuesday Morning - Sidewalk  slanted, no curb cut
                  
 In front of Tuesday Morning  

 In front of Tuesday Morning - No curb cut

In front of Bluebird Cafe
Another section around the Bluebird Cafe

In Front of Bradford's - No Sidewalk 

Around the same area at Bradford Center

In front of Town and Country Cleaners

In front of Verizon Wireless

 In front of Verizon Wireless

In front of Catherine's

In front of Sleep Outfitters

In front of Sam's Discount Tobacco

In front of Hillsboro High School - is this a sidewalk?

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Call for a Public Awareness Campaign in Nashville


I am very surprised at the lack of a public awareness campaign in Nashville.  Nashvillians have just lived through the deadliest year on record for walkers and bikers.  110 walkers were killed in the state of TN - 6 in Nashville during November and December alone.  A heartbreaking tragedy.





According to this report, (link below) 10% of roadway fatalities now involve people outside of vehicles.  According to Lt. Bill Miller, “Is there something that we can do to better educate the public as to the dangers that are involved with walking and being distracted at the same time?”




Hold onto this thought for a moment...and consider the implication.   

“Is there something that we can do to better educate the public as to the dangers that are involved with walking and being distracted at the same time?”  Meaning, walking is dangerous.  People need to be educated on how to walk safe.  In an 'it' city of almost a million and growing at light speed - we have unsafe WALKING?    

I ask you to consider WHY it is so unsafe to walk in this wonderful city of Nashville.  


***

The other side of the coin is to educate THE DRIVERS as they are the ones careening into & killing the pedestrians.  




We also need to BUILD SAFE & fast.  The fact that we haven't is really a sore embarrassment.  


http://nashvillepublicradio.org/post/tennessee-pedestrian-and-bicyclist-deaths-surpass-20-year-high#stream/0













Monday, January 25, 2016

Shade Parade's Letter to the Mayor


Dear Mayor Barry,

First, a word of hearty congratulations on your recent election as Mayor!    We know you will do great things for our city of Nashville. You are a strong advocate for walkability, as we are, therefore it seems right to express our concerns and our desires on this issue now.   The timing of this letter is calculated.  We are so thankful that you have allocated additional funding towards sidewalks already.  We understand there are many pressing issues in Nashville but we know that walkability is a dire one that will require early and clear-sighted commitment.

In September, the US Surgeon General announced a 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.  Transportation for America has deemed Nashville the 15th worst city for pedestrians in regards to pedestrian vs vehicular deaths.   The MPO reports that Tennessee is the ‘least active state in the Nation’.  With Nashville facing some grim health statistics, such as 36 percent of Nashville youth being obese or overweight, according to our own Nashville.gov website, we would argue that now is the time to commit to a city wide plan to radically change our access to safe and reliable walkability. 

In addition, there are no great walking cities in the South so, we argue, why not make Nashville the first?  Nashville is ripe with tourism: with our energized food culture and fertile music scene, and our many young creative entrepreneurs who desire a more spontaneous way of moving around the city that simply requires two feet. Plus, the locals want it!  The latent demand for walkability is huge! But, without a uniform, well-designed and funded plan for sidewalks, we cannot move forward.   This is where we ask for your help.

We ask that you strongly consider a few changes with regards to sidewalk infrastructure investment.  

1. Uniformity.

Have a vision for a uniform, well-designed sidewalk plan.  Currently, Nashville feels like a crazy quilt of patchwork options when it comes to walkability.  You never know what you might get in terms of infrastructure: a sidewalk might be present, absent, directly next to the road, with a buffer, disconnected, with numerous barriers smack in the middle, thin or wide.  We ask that all arterial and collector roads have sidewalks planned that are of the appropriate width and include a green buffer where trees should be planted.  The Nashville-Davidson County Strategic Plan for Sidewalks and Bikeways did a lovely job of delineating the appropriate dimensions of arterial roads requiring a 6’ buffer and 8’ sidewalks and collector streets requiring a 5’ buffer with a 6’ sidewalk (Appendix B, Figure 4).  Regrettably, we are slowly building sidewalks that do not match these standards.  With implementation of a consistent plan for sidewalks in regards to dimensions, the pleasure, predictability and safety of walking will be vastly increased.  

2. Completion Date.

We ask that the sidewalk plan have a realistic completion date with appropriate funding.  The Nashville-Davidson County Strategic Plan for Sidewalks and Bikeways is a good one – it has just laid mostly fallow due to funding.   We worry that asking Council to allocate funds year by year does not allow for a clear long-term vision to be implemented.  As you may recall, as part of the recent election cycle we asked all candidates to pledge to complete the 2008 Strategic Plan for Sidewalks, or equivalent, within 10 years.  Seventeen CMs took the pledge or strongly endorsed this project, and we believe we will easily be able to achieve a 21-vote majority on Council to facilitate this vision.

In addition, we ask that developers chips in.  As you know, currently the In-Lieu Fee allows developers to pay a drastically reduced fee rather than put in sidewalks.  We think this is a mistake.  If developers were required to put in their piece of sidewalk, the grid could be woven together much more quickly.  It also sends the signal that we are creating the best walking city in the South as we create a more urban experience with higher density.  A win-win for locals as well as newcomers.

3. Safety.

In the meantime, to further the goal of making Nashville a safe and great walking city, consider speed reduction on our local roads.  These are the roads that are in purely residential neighborhoods and have a very low Sidewalk Priority Index Score according to The Nashville-Davidson County Strategic Plan for Sidewalks and Bikeways.  Presumably, these roads may never get sidewalks and we understand that.  Since they are in residential neighborhoods, people use them to go for a walk, visit their neighbors and connect to the busier collector and arterial streets.  But without sidewalks, it feels unsafe to have vehicular traffic traveling through at 30 mph.  One very inexpensive gesture towards walkability would be to reduce the speed to 25 mph in these places - and ticketing could also generate revenue to help fund sidewalks!  We see this as a possible extension of the easily recognizable success of Nashville’s Greenways.  You could label these residential neighborhoods as Walking Districts with appropriate signage akin to a Greenway and really inspire people to get out on foot.   With the enhanced safety, we believe that you will see many more children and elderly walking in their own neighborhoods. 

Lastly, in Nashville there is no law that says you should give pedestrians 3 feet clearance, the safety buffer for bicycles.  On local neighborhood roads without sidewalks, pedestrians do not even have a law that protects them from fast paced cars.  Pedestrians are unsure of the law, as are drivers, which adds to the sense of danger.  A clear statement needs to be made so that everyone knows the rules.  

While still focusing on safety, another fairly inexpensive change that we strongly advocate for is an extensive public health campaign to educate the drivers of Nashville that pedestrians do, in fact, have the right-of-way and we would argue that they should be given 3 feet as well.   This could change our culture quickly into one where people move from expressions such as ‘I saw you risking your life walking’ to ‘really great to see you out walking’.

Please let us know if we can clarify any of the thoughts or concerns above, and we are always ready to help in any way you need to make Nashville the best walking city in the South!

If you want better walkability, now is the time to contact your council person & the mayor's office:

https://mpw.nashville.gov/mayors-office/CustomerService.aspx

http://www.nashville.gov/Metro-Council/Metro-Council-Members.aspx








Saturday, January 23, 2016

Walking Actually Easier than Driving in Nashville? Imagine!

On a day where walking in Nashville is actually easier than driving, the chronically underfunded Strategic Sidewalk Plan for Sidewalks has been on my mind.  




The Strategic Plan was created in 2003 after the city of Nashville was sued for being out of compliance with The Americans with Disability Act.  Due to our loss in regards to the case, plans were created to right our poor quality walkability/accessibility.  In 2008, the plan was updated after laying fallow.

As Nashvillians know, we have talked a lot about building new sidewalks over the years but we have never truly funded them making these plans an act of exercise.  We have funded large projects:  Music City Convention Center, the baseball stadium, etc but no significant money has been put into sidewalks.




Yet again, the Strategic Sidewalk Plan for Sidewalks is again being considered for an update.  Things haven't changes so much - we still have a very poor walkability, high level of pedestrian deaths, and a culture of driving.  In the Strategic Plan, in Appendix H, there is are lists of response to select questions.  It highlights how little has changed!  In this regard, I am highly suspicious of updating the plan if we are not going to also mandate the funding.  

Public comments collected from 2002 (note:  it is 14 years later!!!) during the creation of the original Strategic Plan:

What do you see as obstacles to pedestrian travel within Metro?

  • Lack of motorist education
  • Sidewalks that do not connect
  • Obstructions on sidewalks
  • Sidewalks that are not accessible
  • Sidewalks that are not maintained and that are in poor condition
  • Lack of regulation and lack of enforcement of existing regulations
  • Lack of animal control
  • Lack of street crossing facilities
  • Motorists who turn right on red
  • Parking lots that are too close to roadways and block the sidewalk
  • Unsafe sidewalk facilities (crime)
  • Lack of a buffer between sidewalks and roadways
  • Stormwater drainage
  • Ditches
  • Traffic
  • Incomplete/missing sidewalks
  • Lack of design standards for mailboxes


Sound familiar?