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Sunday, July 2, 2017

Comparison of New Pedestrian Bill in Nashville to Old - 4 Key Differences

This is my neighborhood.  It is highly walked at all hours. 
But, you can see that we don't have sidewalks.  Many Nashville neighborhoods look like this. 
I'm not a lawyer.  But this is what I see as the major differences in our current pedestrian bill (Metro Government of Nashville Code of Ordinances - Title 12, Chapter 12.52 Pedestrians):    Old Pedestrian Bill & the proposed new bill:  New Pedestrian Bill


1.  A clear acknowledgement that Nashville is woefully behind in sidewalk infrastructure, that the need for sidewalks is great and that we do not fund them adequately to have them built in a timely way

2. A major shift from pedestrians to yield to vehicles TO vehicles to yield to pedestrians 

3. The addition of a 3 foot passing rule

4. The addition of vehicles to slow when passing a pedestrian


  • For point 2, 3, and 4, easiest to see in Sect D of both bills:
    • Old Pedestrian Bill:  Except as otherwise provided in this title, ANY PEDESTRIAN UPON A ROADWAY SHALL YIELD THE RIGHT-OF-WAY TO ALL VEHICLES upon the roadway.
    • New Pedestrian Bill:  Where neither a sidewalk nor a shoulder is available, ANY PEDESTRIAN walking on the left side of a two-way public roadway in a residential area SHALL HAVE THE RIGHT TO THE USE OF A THREE FOOT SECTION OF THE STREET  measured from the edge of the street and shall have the right-of-way thereon.  Under these conditions, the VEHICLE DRIVER SHALL ALSO SLOW TO A REASONABLE SPEED AND DRIVE WITH REASONABLE DUE CARE TO ENSURE SAFETY OF ALL ROAD USERS.

I truly see this as the beginning of placemaking for our pedestrians.  They now have a legal right to be in the road when no sidewalk is provided.  Pedestrians are to be passed with care:  given 3' similar to the bicycle rule and the driver is to slow. 

A step in the right direction, Nashville!

To read more about pedestrians who have been struck and killed in Nashville, see:  Nasvhville Pedestrian Death Registry


  1. Not a step in the right direction I don't believe.I have seen many times that people believe they have the right to walk across 2 or more lanes of moving traffic,with no care at all that they may be struck( these are not roads with crosswalks by the way).What happened to stop and look both ways before you cross?

    1. I would say, we all have the duty to slow down and yield to pedestrians if we can for the safety of all. Walking, in most parts of Nashville, is not easy. We have not designed the city for pedestrians - superblocks & incredibly long wait times at lights for the walk signal are 2 big issues that lead to jaywalking. Jaywalking is dangerous but I don't think you will ever stop it. Better to be safe and give any pedestrian a break.