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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Nashvillians - If you See Something That Can Block a Walk, Report it to Public Works - ***Link included.

If you see something that can block a walk, report it:

Monday, August 29, 2016

Walking District Pilot Project Coming to Nashville!!! Very Excited!!!

As many of you know, I have been shopping around the idea of Walking Districts for Nashville for a few years and it is finally gaining some traction!

Walking Districts:

The concept entails 3 things making it a quick, easy, and inexpensive upgrade in walkability.  The first is signage:  a sign announcing that you are entering a Walking District.  The second is a street decal (think of the bicycle decal you see on roadways but change it to a pedestrian).  The third is a speed limit reduction to 20mph.

Hillsboro-West End seeks pilot pedestrian safety program

A study shows that 1 in 3 pedestrians are distracted by their cell phones when crossing a busy street.

The Hillsboro-West End neighborhood is proposing a pilot strategy to keep its high number of walkers, runners and cyclists safe as area traffic increases.
"We have very narrow roads and residential streets with lots of pedestrian and bicycle traffic, and 30 (mph) is just too fast," said Martha Stinson, president of the area's neighborhood association.
Neighbors wish to designate the area as a Walking District, lowering the speed limit and adding signage to warn drivers of the high numbers of pedestrians and cyclists, along the major corridors and residential streets.
The strategy is based on Sweden's Vision Zero, which has been implemented in Austin, Portland, Seattle, and other cities in the U.S. to ultimately have zero traffic-related fatalities or serious injuries.

Stinson said neighbors often see speeding along residential roads, and have had more "near-misses" as the area has grown.
"As that corridor redevelops, we can foresee a huge increase in cut-through traffic, speeding, reckless (driving), etc.," Stinson said.
The association is working with Metro Councilwoman Burkley Allen to gather more information and present it to Public Works and other Metro departments.
"It’s always striking a balance between moving traffic efficiently and making our neighborhoods walkable," Allen said.
Earlier this year, Allen was also instrumental in tightening restrictions to allow safer bike and pedestrian paths near construction sites.
"Clearly the whole city is working on creating more options for people not to be in their cars," Allen said. "The more we do that, the more that creates the opportunity for walking to be a more pleasant experience."
The neighborhood is expecting several new additions, including Bongo Java's new dining concept at the former Hot & Cold site, mixed-use project Village 21 at the corner of 21st Avenue South and Wedgewood Avenue, and another apartment complex at 1710 Belcourt Ave.



Sunday, August 28, 2016

Residents Say Photo Shows Nashville Needs More Sidewalks

As a city, we pay for things that are important to us.  We've paid for the convention center, the baseball stadium.  For reasons that are inexplicable, we have not paid for high quality walking infrastructure.  We are living through a time in Nashville of extraordinary growth and yet...Where's our sidewalk?  Why aren't well designed sidewalks going in with the flurry of construction & growth?  

Our corridors could be tree-lined and sidewalked.  

As a sidewalks advocate, I argue that we fund walkability like other major civic projects.  We should see it as a major and worthwhile project adding economic, health and social viability for the long term.

See the difference?  Where would you prefer to walk?  Where would you allow your children to walk?  Which makes you feel safe and which makes you feel you'd rather get back in your car?

Residents say photo shows Nashville needs more sidewalks

Posted: Aug 26, 2016 2:06 PM CDTUpdated: Aug 26, 2016 3:45 PM CDT

The photo shows a blind woman and child walking on East Due West Street. (Source: Andrew McGill)The photo shows a blind woman and child walking on East Due West Street. (Source: Andrew McGill)
Some residents say a picture circulating online proves many Nashville neighborhoods need sidewalks.


Andrew McGill said he sees plenty of walkers on East Due West Street trying to navigate the traffic without sidewalks, but a blind woman walking with a child caught his attention.
“Sure enough, she’s struggling to come along the side of the road with her cane out in front of her and a very small child by the hand,” McGill said. “And when she got out in front of my home, she actually had to move down into the ditch to get out of the oncoming traffic.”
McGill said with a retirement home and low-income housing in the neighborhood, the woman is just one of many braving the traffic.
“I see elderly people walk to the grocery store and come back with their hands that are as full of grocery bags that they can possibly carry and still try to stay out of the street,” McGill said.
City officials said they are looking into adding sidewalks on East Due West Street, as well as many other Nashville streets, but the process takes time.
“You have to go into the design stage. You have to go into all these different things, and again budgeting and all that, just to make sure that all the I’s are dotted and all the T’s are crossed. But I can tell you that this is a priority for us,” said Jenna Smith with Metro Public Works.
McGill said that priority would protect both walkers and drivers.
“If you run over a blind woman and her child on this street, yes, you’ve injured or killed someone, but you’ve basically ruined your life as well,” McGill said.
The city has created a survey asking people to point out where the problems are. They also have an interactive map where residents can check if their neighborhood is going to get sidewalks soon.


Saturday, August 27, 2016

Engineers to U.S. DOT: Transportation Is About More Than Moving Cars...I hope Nashville is listening, too!

Nashville's Public Works has carried the job of moving cars as fast as possible from point A to B.  But, Nashville is changing fast and with this change comes a desire to have top-notch walking infrastructure which is currently sorely missing.  Now, Nashvillians are asking for well designed tree-lined sidewalks to be a major focus.  

Hillsboro Pike

'The nation's biggest and most respected transportation engineering group is saying federal officials are too focused on cars and not enough on people', according to Street Blog USA.    

American policy makers are being asked to shift focus from car only to multi-modal transportation.  This focus on car-only transportation is very evident in Nashville where are major corridors and pikes do not allow for safe walking.  

Nashvillians, now is the time to talk with your councilperson.
---Find your council member here: 

We want high quality, uniform, well designed sidewalks that link our neighborhoods with business districts, school, libraries and parks.  No more low quality sidewalks without green buffers.  No more sidewalks directly next to fast-paced roads that feel unsafe.  No more mailboxes or telephone poles in the middle of the sidewalk making them essentially unusable.   If they can't be built properly, I would say that we would rather wait and have none until we can find the money to do it right.  

Engineers to U.S. DOT: Transportation Is About More Than Moving Cars

A trade group representing the transportation engineering profession thinks it’s high time for American policy makers to stop focusing so much on moving single-occupancy vehicles.
Should roads like this be considered a "success?" ITE doesn't think so. Photo: Smart Growth America
Should roads like this be considered a success? ITE doesn’t think so. Photo: Smart Growth America
U.S. DOT is currently deciding how it will assess the performance of state DOTs. Will it continue business as usual and equate success with moving huge numbers of cars? That’s what state transportation officials want, but just about everyone else disagrees — including professional transportation engineers.
In its comments to the Federal Highway Administration about how to measure performance, the Institute of Transportation Engineers — a trade group representing 13,000 professionals — said that, in short, the system should not focus so heavily on cars [PDF].
Here’s a key excerpt:
Throughout the current proposed rulemaking on NHS performance, traffic congestion, freight mobility, and air quality, an underlying theme is apparent: these measures speak largely to the experience of those in single occupancy vehicles (SOVs). While such a focus is understandable in the short-term, owing largely to the current availability of data from the NPMRDS and other national sources, ITE and its membership feel that FHWA should move quickly within the framework of the existing performance management legislation to begin developing performance measures that cater to multimodal transportation systems.
The first step in this process is instituting a program to develop standards and procedures for data collection within this alternative modes of travel, an effort which ITE feels should be undertaken by FHWA and its USDOT partner agencies concurrent to the final performance management rulemaking under consideration. Once this multimodal framework is established, FHWA can work to develop a more comprehensive and holistic set of performance measures that accommodate multiple modes of transportation, while achieving secondary effects of improved public health, community livability, and economic development.
While ITE is supportive in moving forward with the majority of the proposed measures as the first step in this evolutionary process, we do believe FHWA should postpone the adoption of an urban congestion measure until such time as this measure can represent all users of the system. The singular focus of the current proposed measure on vehicle-based travel may have the unintended consequences of focusing investment on the movement of SOVs at a time when the transportation industry has begun to aggressively support shared services and transportation choices. Rather than expending limited FHWA, State and local resources on implementing a measure of questionable value, we respectfully request that FHWA direct those resources toward the collection of multi-modal data and the establishment of multi-modal and person-based measures.
This is very much in line with what advocates for reform like Transportation for America have been saying.
The way FHWA’s draft rule is currently written emphasizes vehicle delay. In other words, it prioritizes the movement of cars over broader social, environmental, and public health concerns — exactly the kind of old-fashioned thinking that has led states on an endless cycle of expensive highway widenings and continued gridlock. State officials may not have figured out that something needs to change, but it looks like the engineering profession has.

Friday, August 26, 2016

3 Places to Change Policy on Sidewalks in Nashville

This feels like the summer of surveys and studies in Nashville.  

-How do you feel about recycling?
-How do you see the development of parks? (  
-What are your views on bike lanes?
-Where do you want sidewalks? 

- Walk N Bike

- Nashville Next

- Nashville Tree Task Force

All well and good if progress comes of it soon.  There needs to be a balance between study and action and currently it feels like Nashville has been treading in the study area for too long.  

People are anxious to see progress in walkability.  Mayor Barry has been in office about 1 year, extra money has been allocated to sidewalks and, yet, the projects are stuck in the planning process and are slow to come to fruition.  Bowling Ave, the pilot project for 'how to get a sidewalk built' (Sidewalk Project #1, is currently second on my Council person Kathleen Murphy's list of prioritized projects.  37th Av is first and it is stuck in the planning phase making Bowling even further away.  

In addition, there are many exemptions to policy on building sidewalks when developing property in Davidson County that hinder progress.  A very strong argument bubbling to the top is: Why not scrape the old policy and start fresh? Maybe tinkering with the old policy is not worthwhile.   

Three places where starting over makes sense:
- When development leads to increased density, a sidewalks should be put in.  For example, if one house comes down and two go up ->  a sidewalk should be required.
- All sidewalks should be to a set and elevated design standard (see black and white photo below).  
- Stop repairing sub-par sidewalks that do not fit the design standard.  Better to save the money for creation of the higher 
design later.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Hillsboro West End Neighborhood working to get First Walking District in Nashville!

Hillsboro West End Neighborhood working to get First Walking District in Nashville!  Other cities are already setting the president for this kind of change...should Nashville be next?  

One of the great benefits is the low cost involved in changing these streets into 'Greenway Extenders'.  These roadways are so low on sidewalk prioritization plans, they will feasibly not see sidewalks for ages.  


A Walking District is a simple concept involving 3 things on roadways that are primarily residential/low traffic:
- signage that announces you are entering a Walking District 
- a reduction in the speed limit to preferably 20mph for comfort and safety
- decals on the roadway of pedestrian symbols to also help alert drivers to expect pedestrians

Portland Oregon's version:

Neighborhood Greenways 101

Welcome to our neighborhood greenway:
welcome to our neighborhood greenwayPortland’s neighborhood greenways (formerly known as “bicycle boulevards”) are residential streets designed to prioritize bicycling and enhance conditions for walking. They have long represented and fostered the best elements of Portland’s transportation culture by creating safe streets where people want to bike, walk and play. To date, Portland has more than 70 miles of neighborhood greenways.
To ensure that neighborhood greenways remain a vital part of Portland’s transportation network, the city has adopted the following operational performance guidelines:
  • Vehicles should travel 20 mph or less
  • There should be a daily average of approximately 1,000 cars per day with the upper limit set at 2,000 cars
  • There should be ample opportunities for people bicycling and walking to cross busy streets, at least 50 crossing opportunities per hour, with 100 crossing opportunities per hour the preferred level of service.

Greenways are not cut-through streets:
greenways are not cut-through streets
Neighborhood greenways are most often found on local service streets that can have a large range of street widths. Neighborhood greenways typically include two shared travel lanes and two parking lanes. In order to keep people from using neighborhood greenways as automobile cut-through routes, speed bumps and traffic diverters are commonly installed on greenways. These common traffic calming techniques help auto traffic remain on nearby main streets rather than cutting through on neighborhood streets.

Greenways Map
greenway sharrowThe primary pavement marking for neighborhood greenways is the shared roadway marking, aka sharrow. Despite the city’s success in growing bicycle ridership, increases in population and development translate into more people walking, bicycling and driving. More cars on neighborhood greenways contribute to an increased level of stress experienced by people bicycling and walking. Increased stress on our priority bicycle routes makes bicycling less comfortable and has a negative impact on the overall livability of our city.
Lowering traffic stress requires neighborhood greenways to operate with low auto volumes and speeds, provide protected crossings at major intersections and maintain an environment that encourages people of all ages and abilities to travel actively. The traffic calming measures mentioned earlier not only help to discourage cut-through traffic, they also help to lower the traffic stress on neighborhood greenways for people walking and biking.  

We built this to encourage walking and biking:
we built this for people walking and biking
Neighborhood greenways have contributed to the increase in bicycling in the city, and one of the best places to see this is on the neighborhood greenways themselves. Greenways have seen a dramatic increase in bicycle use that parallels the overall increase in bicycling in Portland.
There is both broad and specific policy support for neighborhood greenways in Portland’s plans and policies, as well as the Portland metro region’s priorities, which recognize the importance of neighborhood greenways and the role they will play in creating a healthy, equitable and prosperous Portland.
Since 2000, the number of Portlanders riding bicycles to work has increased nearly 250 percent. In some census tracts of Northeast and Southeast Portland, bicycle commuting approaches 25 percent of all trips to work. Unsurprisingly, bicycle use on neighborhood greenways reflects the level of bicycle use in the area where the neighborhood greenway is located.

Thanks for traveling with care:
thanks for traveling with care
Neighborhood greenways are where people of all ages and abilities have the opportunity to bicycle, walk and play. As such, neighborhood greenways need to maintain low auto volumes and speeds, provide protected crossings at major intersections, and create an environment that encourages people of all ages to travel actively.


Saturday, August 20, 2016

Developing Superblocks...Interesting to think about since so much of Nashville is designed like this!

Superblocks: how Barcelona is taking city streets back from cars

Barcelona’s Eixample neighborhood, just waiting to be superblocked.Shutterstock
Modern cities are ruled by cars. Streets are designed for them; bikers, pedestrians, vendors, hangers-out, and all other forms of human life are pushed to the perimeter in narrow lanes or sidewalks. Truly shared spaces are confined to parks and the occasional plaza. This is such a fundamental reality of cities that we barely notice it any more.
Some folks, however, still cling to the old idea that cities are for people, that more common space should be devoted to living in the city rather than getting through it or around it.
But once you’ve got a city that’s mostly composed of street grids, devoted to moving cars around, how do you take it back? How can cities be reclaimed for people?
The city of Barcelona has come up with one incredibly clever solution to that problem.

It’s a bird ... it’s a plane ... it’s SUPERBLOCK

As anyone who has visited knows, Barcelona is absolutely dreamy — one of the most pleasant, walkable cities on Earth, filled with markets, sidewalk cafes, and bustling street life.
Placa Reial (Royal Plaza), in Barcelona, Spain.(Shutterstock)
Pla├ža Reial (Royal Plaza), in Barcelona, Spain.
But it too has become clogged by cars and choked by air pollution over the past few decades. So in 2014 it developed an Urban Mobility Plan, designed to give the city back to people (and reduce pollution).
In America, we can’t even agree on the idea that cities are for people. We still decry bike lanes as a "war on cars," even in our allegedly progressive West Coast cities. So from where I’m sitting, the Barcelona plan is pretty fantastic: 186 miles of new bike lanes, a revamped bus system with better access and more frequency, more green space, and on and on.
But the coolest idea in it is "superblocks" (superilles in Catalan), a concept developed by Salvador Rueda, director of the Urban Ecology Agency of Barcelona. (Cities of the Future has a great interview with Rueda and a history of the superblocks concept — highly recommended. The Guardian also has nice piece.)
The idea is pretty simple. Take nine square blocks of city. (It doesn’t have to be nine, but that’s the ideal.) Rather than all traffic being permitted on all the streets between and among those blocks, cordon off a perimeter and keep through traffic, freight, and city buses on that.
In the interior, allow only local vehicles, traveling at very low speeds, under 10 mph. And make all the interior streets one-way loops (see the arrows on the green streets below), so none of them serve through streets.
Like so:
superblocks!(BNC Ecologica, via Cities of the Future)
In this way, you create a nine-square-block mini village, the interior spaces of which can be more equitably shared between cars and other uses.
The plan will be implemented in two phases. From the Cities of the Future piece:
In the first phase of the plan, which is now being implemented in a few areas, the maximum speed on the roads within the Superblock is limited to 20 km/h (12.5 miles per hour). Phase one of the Superblocks can be implemented easily, at low cost, mainly through the changing traffic signals. Rueda estimates that Barcelona can implement phase one across the city for less than € 20 million ($22 million).
Phase two is more ambitious. It will transform city life and the way people use public space. Curbside parking within the Superblocks will disappear (by building off-street garages), and the maximum speed will be 10 km/h (6 m/h), allowing people to use the streets for games, sport, and cultural activities, such as outdoor cinema.
superblocks!(BNC Ecologia, via Cities of the Future)
So you know all those pedestrian avenues and open plazas you love so much in old, built-pre-automobile cities? This would amount to giving every citizen direct access to something similar.
If superblocks were fully implemented across the city, Rueda estimates that 60 percent of road space now devoted solely to cars would be shifted to mixed use or car-free. Amazing.
The Barcelona government lists six aims for superblocks:
  1. More sustainable mobility
  2. Revitalization of public spaces
  3. Promotion of biodiversity and urban green
  4. Promotion of urban social fabric and social cohesion
  5. Promoting self-sufficiency in the use of resources
  6. Integration of governance processes
The idea is that these superblocks would become distinct communities, neighborhoods within neighborhoods, with shared governance and common resources — the urban equivalent of a microgrid, if you will.
Superblocks are being implemented in several neighborhoods in Barcelona now, and there’s potential for many more:
superblocks!(Ajuntament de Barcelona)
They’ve caught on in a few other Spanish cities as well, but Rueda emphasizes that the model can be used in any city, in any country, and that it’s far cheaper than building new infrastructure.
Superblocks are easier to implement when you start with a neat street grid, as in Barcelona’s Eixample district (where some of the first ones are located), but there’s no reason the basic idea couldn’t be adapted to other configurations.
Now imagine the city where you live, or your neighborhood. Imagine confining motorized vehicle traffic to a perimeter around several interior blocks, where space would be opened up to festivals, farmers markets, bikes, families strolling, kids playing in the streets, and you, there, in your favorite chair at the sidewalk cafe, watching it all go down as you sip an espresso.
Wouldn’t that be nice?