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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Walking District Survey - please take a minute to fill out!

When I first moved to my neighborhood in Nashville, 3 years ago, I was out walking when I came upon an older man. He said to me, 'Don't you love to walk here? Feels just like a park'. It was easy to nod and agree given all the amazingly tall trees, pedestrians, dappled light. In many ways, my neighborhood shares a number of qualities with Nashville's Greenways - beautiful scenery and heavy pedestrian activity. Daily, I am thankful for the near constant parade of walkers that pass my house. I have even seen people park their cars, meet up with others, and head out of foot. 

I am a morning walker, typically. I have met a wonderful community of people and I enjoy seeing their (and their furry friends') faces every day. It is fun, relaxing and thoroughly enjoyable, and builds a great sense of community. But, that sense of relaxation and pleasure is drastically reduced if for some reason I must walk after work. I walk the side streets mainly but also Golf Club and Hampton which are collector (i.e.: cut-through road) roads. Golf Club and Hampton are the only way to connect to some of the other 'loops' of side streets. Both the side streets and many of the collector roads, such as Golf Club/Hampton, are the same speed limit - 30 mph. This is not so much of an issue in the early morning but, during rush hour, the volume and speed of traffic surges. A relaxing and healthy walk turns into a much more stressful and anxiety provoking event. Sharing the road with afternoon rush hour drivers raises a significant safety concern for our neighborhood residents - adults and children alike.

As many of you know, we have been working closely with our Council Person, Kathleen Murphy, on sidewalking Bowling Av (marked 35mph) for similar safety concerns. This is very slow going work but the good news is that Bowling is now 2nd in line for project development after the tunnel under 37th in Sylvan Park/Sylvan Heights. (Thanks to the neighborhood's vocal support of this project which has made us come this far!) But, as you can imagine, the prospect for our side streets to be sidewalked is essentially zero. As a way to increase walkability on these kind of roadways (side streets and minor collectors such as Golf Club, Hampton) we are pursuing a concept called a Walking District. The germ of this idea was from the gentleman’s quote above. In a park-like neighborhood, why not reduce the speed of passing traffic and increase driver awareness so that pedestrians have a safe and comfortable experience at all times of the day?

The Gist of a Walking District is:

- reduce speed to 20mph
- have proper signage to alert drivers that they are entering and exiting a Walking District
- apply pedestrian decals to the roadways, similar to bike lane decals, to work as an additional warning to drivers to expect walkers.

The Hillsboro / West End neighborhood association is working on implementing a Walking District as a pilot and we are looking for an other neighborhoods to adopt it too. The data bears out that, if a person is hit by a car going 20 mph, 9 out of 10 will survive. When speeds are 30 mph, 5 out of 10 will survive. When the speed of the car increases to 40mph, only 1 out of 10 will survive. We have brought this concept to the attention of Kathleen Murphy and Russ Pulley in regards to Golf Club/Timber/Forrest Park/Woodleigh, and Russ has passed it on to Sgt. Steve Linn and Benny Word at Public Works. The concept has been presented to the mayor's office, the Bike/Pedestrian Advisory Committee, Walk/Bike Nashville, and a group interested in increasing health in Nashville via the Health Dept. So far, there seems to be strong support.

We would like to gauge the level of interest in pursuing this idea for neighborhoods by asking you to fill out a survey. In essence, we see the Walking District as an inexpensive way to quickly increase the safety and enjoyability of walking in our community, in lieu of getting a sidewalk on every side street.

Walking District Survey 
We're conducting a survey and your input would be appreciated. Click the link below to start the survey. Thank you for your participation! 


***Please hit the 'FOLLOW' tab to continue to gather information about walkability in Nashville


  1. This strikes me as a way to cheap out and not build sidewalks. I doubt cars will actually follow the new speed limit. don't be cheap and build a shoulder on roads or side walk (or even bike lanes)

  2. I hear you. This is a sentiment I have heard before and a criticism I take to heart. But, as someone who has been advocating for a sidewalk for 3 long years on a road that definitely has the qualities to need one (a public school, lots of businesses, a bus stop) - Bowling Av - I am STILL waiting despite numerous meetings, surveys, etc, I understand how this plays out.

    Until the mayor commits the funding with an end date for sidewalking Nashville, this is an option.

    I am sure not all drivers will obey the speed limit but that does not strike me as a valid argument not to pursue it. It would be better than what we have now (most side streets being 30mph) & ticketing could occur if needed. So, it is a solution. Not the best but better than do nothing while waiting. My hope is that this is a stepping stone to real sidewalks.

    I hope that makes sense! Let me know if you have more questions/comments.