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Friday, January 22, 2016

Letter to the Mayor of Nashville...Add your thoughts?

Letter to the Mayor of Nashville

We have sent a letter to the mayor  & to Mark Sturtevant, the new infrastructure czar in Nashville, to address concerns about our current sidewalk infrastructure in city.

Nashville Needs Sidewalks & Shade Parade's main points are:
- uniformity
- safety
- completion date


In regards to uniformity, I would strongly advocate that The Nashville-Davidson County Strategic Plan for Sidewalks and Bikeways has already delineated the proper width and buffer for new sidewalks.  We do not need to recreate the wheel here...we just need to actually do it.  

Appendix B, Figure 4
Local Streets:  4' buffer, 5-6' sidewalk
Collector Streets: 5' buffer, 6' sidewalk
Arterial Streets: 6' buffer, 8' sidewalk

I hope you can see and feel the difference between the 2 images below.  Currently, we are still allowing sidewalks of varying dimensions to be put in & it leads to this crazy quilt infrastructure that lacks uniformity.  As someone who advocates for sidewalks, I can tell you this is sorely disappointing.  Sidewalks are very expensive and hard to get so when one goes in that is sub-par it is heartbreaking (and essentially permanent)

Sidewalk directly next to road, no buffer.
No buffer = No shade
No buffer = Less safe

Green buffer protects walkers from direct traffic and provides some shade and a sense of safety


Did you know that there is no law currently in Nashville that says you have to give walkers any clearance on the road?  Bikes get 3'.  Pedestrians - nothing!  And, yet we do not have an sidewalk network!  

Most residential areas with speed limits of 30mph - pretty uncomfortable if you are out walking without a sidewalk.  Not a speed that you would feel good letting your toddler be near or your elderly grandparent.  

While waiting for sidewalks to be built, I advocate for a law that gives pedestrians 3' clearance, a reduction in speed limits in residential areas to 25mph, and a public awareness campaign to educate drivers to yield to pedestrians.  

I recognize that I am arguing for culture change:  to change Nashville into the 1st and best walking city in the South!

Completion date.

Funding for sidewalks is allocated each year through council.  That means that it is hard to make a long term plan.  I would really like to see a change here - establish long term funding so that we can have our arterial and collector streets sidewalked in proper fashion.

I am also asking the developers chip in.  As we move into a much more dense city, we need the infrastructure of sidewalks to allow people to walk rather than drive.  It is only fair that if a developer tears down one house to put up two or more, that he/she puts in the sidewalk that is needed.    

These are my thoughts.  I'd love to hear yours!

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