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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

New Interactive Map: Want a Sidewalk in Your Neighborhood?

Want a Sidewalk in Your Neighborhood?  

Start With This:  New Interactive Map to Maximize Walking & Biking in Nashville.

'The walkNbike plan will develop a strategy to maximize walking and biking potential by connecting people with high-quality, comfortable, and safe sidewalks and bikeways. Your feedback is a key component of the plan, and will guide priority projects and infrastructure improvements.

In this exercise, we are seeking your assistance in identifying projects and issues relevant to bicycle or pedestrian safety, comfort, and accessibility. Please use this interactive map to provide your thoughts, concerns, and opportunities for creating a more bicycle and pedestrian-friendly Nashville-Davidson County'.

Link to map:

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Why is Walking So Much Fun? I think if you read one article that I have forwarded, this would be it...

For a long time, I have consistently noticed that walkers often have this big silly grin on their faces.  And, it is contagious.  If they happen to be walking their dog, you may recognize the grin as the same one the dog has.  

I don't have confidence that Nashville has really embraced pedestrians yet.  But, I feel it is coming.  If you are not a big walker now, I encourage you to take a peek at the blog post by a very interesting woman who writes under the name Lovely Bicycle!

I think if you read one article that I have forwarded, this would be it.  It uncannily sums up my passion for walking but in terms of bicycling.  There is an overwhelming joy and sense of fun when out on foot...and, if it keeps you young in heart and body, even better.


Fountain of Youth? 

In the course of speaking to the artist whom I featured in the previous post, it occurred to me that we might have some friends in common, whom I gauged to be around the same age as himself. As it turned out though, I was off by a decade. That is, the fellow was 10 years older than the age I guessed him to be. "Cycling," we joked. "Must be the fountain of youth!"

It is not uncommon for me to meet cyclists who look a fair bit younger than their actual age, even remarkably so. But is this disproportionately the case compared to, say, other outdoorsy or athletic people I know? Thinking of it purely anecdotally, I would say possibly yes. And several friends I've consulted agree. But then of course we are biased, being cyclists ourselves! And to be fair, I have also met cyclists who look older than their age - skin withered from overexposure to sun without protective measures.

In the absence of any evidence, perhaps it is enough to say that cycling makes us feel younger - a sentiment with which, almost surely, anyone who has pedaled agrees. After all, "I feel like a kid again" is a phrase we often hear from those who rediscover cycling as adults. And that is hardly a surprise, if the last time they pedaled a bicycle had indeed been in childhood. That association could very well bring out the cyclist's younger self, with interesting implication for their future personality development, should they persists in cycling as adults. In that sense, cycling can "un-jade" us and make us see the world in a different light again. Some report rediscovering a sense of wonder, the ability to get excited about things again, which they may had once feared they lost. Others feel more youthful in the sense of being more energetic, sprightlier, fitter.

Whether the effects are mental, emotional or physical, they are nearly always beneficial. And of course it is not a far stretch to think the people around us might notice their effects on us.

As a teenager and young adult, I had always looked older than my age. I was the first kid in my neighborhood who could walk into the Quiki-mart in the part of town where no one knew us and buy cigarettes, then a couple of years later, alcohol. In my early 20s, I was always put in charge of things at work because I had an air of maturity about me.

But when I hit my 30s something weird happened: It was as if I started to go backwards. At the university where I lectured I'd get mistaken for an undergraduate. I began to get carded in restaurants and liquor stores. Persons in administrative and authoritative positions would speak to me in parental tones. Whether this was flattering or insulting I could not quite decide. But either way, such treatment was distinctly new to me. It was as if in my 20s I'd been mistaken for someone in their 30s, and now it was the other way around. Is it coincidence that I began cycling in my third decade?

"It is the same with me exactly," said a cycling peer, when I shared these impression with her. Just two weeks earlier a 19-year old (at a bicycle shop, incidentally) had asked her out on a date and was shocked to learn her age.

"Damn girl!" said the young man allegedly, "Sure I thought you were a couple of years older... but you're, like, MILF-age!" Aw. How sweet indeed.

But lest we give ourselves too much credit for looking genuinely youthful, here is another take on things:  In situations where we are unsure of a person's age (or don't want to offend by guessing in the wrong direction), we might look for clues. And the bicycle, in our society, is still considered a toy, or at least a youthful preoccupation, more often than not. Which in this case, might work in our favour. All else remaining equal, if we are seen with a bike, a stranger might judge as as younger than otherwise.

Is cycling the fountain of youth? Perhaps. Or perhaps not exactly. Still, it's good to feel like a kid again and "fly" with the breeze in our face, knowing spring is just around the corner.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Pedestrians Seem to be Nothing but Ghosts to too Many Drivers …

“Pedestrians seem to be nothing but ghosts to too many drivers … You seem not to count. You seem not to exist. Your value is $500.” - Andres Zamora 


Could anything be more heartbreaking?


Tennessee Drivers Could Face Stiffer Penalties For Injuring Pedestrians And For Texting


Tennessee senators advanced two bills Monday that would increase penalties against drivers.

The first would address drivers who kill or injure pedestrians by failing to yield. The new penalty would be up to a year in jail and a fine of nearly $3,000. Currently, the maximum is no jail time and $500 — which is a modification of standard misdemeanor sentencing.

Nashville Sen. Jeff Yarbro brought the bill in honor of 17-year-old Elena Zamora, a Hume Fogg High School student who was killed by a truck driver in 2013.

Her father, Vanderbilt University Spanish professor Andres Zamora, offered an emotional plea in favor of the tougher penalty, describing the loss of his daughter as a “mutilation” to her friends and family.

“A city with only cars and no pedestrians might be full of noises and roar, but it has only the feeling of a ghost town,” he said.

“Pedestrians seem to be nothing but ghosts to too many drivers … You seem not to count. You seem not to exist. Your value is $500.”

Monday, March 14, 2016

District 24 - Proposed Sidewalk Plan

Red means sidewalks exist.  
Pink is proposed.

Note the essential 'dead zone' in the southern portion of District 24.

  Compare this with the grid like pattern in Sylvan Park.  As a sidewalk advocate, this shows how being the squeaky wheal gets things done.  Sylvan Park has done a great job of advocating for themselves.  My neck of the woods has not...

Frequently described as 'self sufficient' and 'not asking for much' the neighborhood between Hillsboro Village and Green Hills is almost unwalkable and yet is so close to 2 major business districts.  It is also an area of endless traffic concerns.


Sidewalks are expensive.  They certainly are not going to get cheaper.  One idea to alleviate this lack of walkability would be to create Walking Districts in these blocks of dead zones.

A simple plan, based on the current bike lane model, could be implemented on low traffic neighborhood streets:

  • Reduce speed (20 is plenty?)
  • Place pedestrian decals on the roadways
  • Add attractive signage that says you are entering a Walking District
  • Plant trees!

I think this could also be a nice sequel to Green Ways and could be added to the Strategic Sidewalk Update that is scheduled to occur in 2016.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Shade Parade - what's this name about?

Fifty percent of the goal of Shade Parade is what you see below (1st photo).  In order to have a walkable city, particularly in the hot and steamy south, you need shade coverage.  Otherwise, walking in the summer months is almost unbearable.  

Our current Strategic Sidewalk Plan for Davidson County (last update in 2008, scheduled to be updated again in 2016) recommends specific widths of green buffers depending on the volume & speed of the roadway (see 2nd photo below).  Theoretically, this would allow for lining our roadways with trees to provide a very comforting separation between you and fast-paced hot-exhaust emitting cars.  

With the shade, so comes the parade of people...people who would have driven but now find it easier and more lovely to head out on foot...


Saturday, March 12, 2016

The Nashville-Davidson County Strategic Plan for Sidewalks and Bikeways...Plan for Update

Bike/Ped Plan Update

Planner Adams Carroll presented a status report on the Sidewalks & Bikeways Strategic Plan during the February 25 Planning Commission meeting.

I am very excited and honored to be a part of updating The Nashville-Davidson County Strategic Plan for Sidewalks and Bikeways!

Friday, March 11, 2016

Jean and Carey of East Nashville agree...Nashville Needs Sidewalks

Jean and Carey of East Nashville agree...Nashville Needs Sidewalks.

The main road, by their house does have sidewalks if they turn right but not if they turn left.  The lack of consistency and connectivity are major issues in Nashville.  We could do better.    

Both Jean and Carey are visually impaired.  Jean is, in fact, totally blind.  They do not have a car.  I urge you to advocate for sidewalks in your neighborhood with your needs in mind but also the needs of your neighbors.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

YES!!!!! A Poorly Designed Sidewalk Does NOT a Good Walk Make.


Nashville's Public Works and TDOT - what do you think?


FEBRUARY 19, 2016


For decades, we’ve convinced ourselves that a sidewalk is good enough- that if we build a sidewalk, we’ve met the pedestrian’s needs. The truth is that a sidewalk is just the first step in meeting those needs.

When we build a sidewalk that is sandwiched between a 40 mph street and a parking lot, we invite humans into a world designed for fast-moving machines, and most people aren’t comfortable with such an awkward invitation. Humans are smart. We pick up on dozens of cues and hints from the world around us. We intuitively know if an environment is designed for walking or driving, but we often have a hard time explaining why. The good news is that we’re getting better at not only explaining why, but measuring why people choose to walk.

“The things we measure tend to be the things we focus on, and the things we focus on tend to be the things we improve. ”

The things we measure tend to be the things we focus on, and the things we focus on tend to be the things we improve. For decades, traffic engineers have focused predominantly on measuring auto traffic. Traffic engineering has become a science in which traffic congestion is forecast with precision. There are standards which state that certain levels of congestion are unacceptable, creating the impetus for investment in wider, faster roads. Because delay can be measured and forecast, it’s easy to set standards and communicate how well the facility is performing relative to those standards.

Imagine if we could provide a score and standards for how attractive the walk environment is along a street. What if we scored the walkability of streets and flagged the blocks that are below an acceptable standard? We’d create the impetus for investment in the walkability of the street. We could also highlight blocks that score well so that others could use them as an example.

Measuring Urban Design: Metrics for Livable Places by Otto Clemente and Reid Ewing outlines a procedure for quantifying the urban design, and therefore, the walkability of a street. This methodology breaks urban design into five elements that have been proven to impact one’s willingness to walk: Imageability, Enclosure, Human Scale, Transparency, and Complexity. Each of these elements is measured, rated, and aggregated into an overall urban design score for the block.

The Wasatch Front Regional Council (WFRC) has used this methodology to score streets throughout the greater Salt Lake metropolitan area. There has been a push recently in the region to encourage walking and biking and to improve air quality. In addition, the region has been implementing the Wasatch Choice Vision. The Vision identifies specific locations where local governments want to create or enhance walkable, mixed-use centers. By measuring the urban design of these streets, we are supporting these efforts.

To view the story map of this tool, click here, or on the picture above. The results displayed in the map represent an effort to score over 1,200 blocks throughout the region. We focused our efforts on the centers and corridors identified in the Wasatch Choice Vision. The scoring methodology uses an assessment that looks at and counts crucial physical features, observes proportions, and creates a numerical score. The assessment looks within the boundaries of the street, one block at a time.

The story map has a variety of tabs, which walk you through the methodology, display the five elements of walkability, and provide an aggregate score. A “Tools and Resources” tab is also included, for those who want to dig in even deeper.

Together, we can expand the definition of streets beyond the needs of just traffic, to include the needs of pedestrians. People are drawn to walkable streets. They are good for communities, good for the environment, and good for business. City leaders are trying to respond accordingly, but often don’t have the expertise or even the vocabulary to describe what it is that they’re after. Our goal is to educate and empower them with real, quantifiable data.


Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Nashville Needs Sidewalks on the News!

Nashville is kind of a strange city in its lack of pedestrianism & high pedestrian death rate.  Certainly, many have written to say that they moved here from another place and can't quite understand how they are supposed to get around on foot.  Rightfully so:  we have a crazy quilt of options to walk on/through.  Some planned and others not.

And, yet we live in a city.  I even live in the 'Urban Service District' meaning I pay a higher tax rate for 'Urban Services'.  

One way to help spread the word that you support better walkability for all is to request a Nashville Needs Sidewalks sign and then send a picture of how you use it.  I'll post it on the Nashville Needs Sidewalks Facebook page.   

The images have proven to be a really powerful thing & I could use help collecting them.



The media has recently spotted these signs in Nashville.  Check out the links below where I am talking about sidewalks on Ch 2 and Ch 5.  

Just want to say how appreciative I am that Stephanie Langston and  Cuthbert Langley has taken an interest in the subject as it helps tremendously.  

My goal is to have people think deeply about walkability in Nashville - and these 2 pieces have aided in this goal.