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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Robertson Rd Breaking Precedent and Adding Green Buffers!!!

Robertson Road is making some big changes.  For years, despite guidelines on green buffers and sidewalk widths for our roadways, it seems that once a sidewalk goes in, that foot print is forever etched in concrete even if less than ideal. 

This project on Robertson Rd is a reversal of that notion.  The red arrows below point out the old sidewalk, which abuts the fast paced road loaded with heavy trucks.  The new sidewalk has a new green buffer and sidewalk that is set back off the road.

View of old sidewalk next to road and new sidewalk being placed.


A few years back, New Natchez had the opportunity to add the proper green buffer width but, instead, they put the sidewalk in the same foot print. A big disappointment.  No room for trees.

Sidewalks that are right up against the roadway do not feel safe or inviting.  One false step, and you are in the road. There is no protection from the elements.  

Nashville need sidewalks that are set back off the road with tree lined buffer (hence Shade Parade) to help with comfort, noise, and shielding from the sun.  Just look at the pictures below to see.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Want more new sidewalks?!? The Sidewalk Foundation - giving Tuesday

Happy Holidays!

Today is Giving Tuesday.  Many Nashvillians generously give to large civic minded institutions such as Cheekwood and the Symphony Center.  The Sidewalk Foundation hopes to make the list but we are just at the beginning of our work.  Our goal is the building of NEW sidewalks in Nashville.  As we are all well aware, NEW sidewalk production in our 532 sq mile city/county of Nashville is woefully behind.  We have 1900 miles to go and are averaging a pitiful 1-2 miles per year.  This means our sidewalk network will be completed in 1000 YEARS! 

The Sidewalk Foundation hopes to make the sidewalk grid complete in a much more reasonable amount of time.  This is a public/private venture dedicated to NEW SIDEWALKS.



On a positive note, Hillsboro Circle at Bandywood has new bollards creating a safety island mid-crosswalk.  This also help left hand turners make the proper arc rather than cutting the corner straight into the crosswalk. 

This is a significant improvement and much appreciated!


Thursday, November 23, 2017

Boulevard Bolt Provides Safe Passage for Runners and Walkers! First Time Ever!!!

Nashville's annual Turkey Trot, the Boulevard Bolt, raises money for the homeless.  The Boulevard Bolt - Nashville is a certified 5-mile course, down and back on Belle Meade Boulevard.  Agencies that support the homeless are encouraged to apply for funding.


This year, for the first time, safe passage to the race was provided via coning of a single lane on Harding Road.  This was highly appreciated as the sidewalk ends at Lynnwood and Harding.

The reason this lane closure seems significant is that Nashville has so few sidewalks.  Only 1/3 of our roadways have them.  And, we seem at an impasse on what to do about it.  They are expensive & complicated to build but cost reductions and simple engineering solutions are not more likely as time goes on.  Simple gestures, liking blocking a lane of traffic, is a cheap and fair option while we wait for more permanent infrastructure.  Again, much appreciated today!!!


As a side note, spied this morning is possibly one of WORST BUS STOPS in Nashville.  This is on Harding Rd in front of the Kroger.  The bushes do not allow a safe and comfortable place for a PERSON to be.  They also do not allow for a clear path to access the bus.  This poor guy is literally in the road while he waits.

This bus stop is not ADA compliant.  In fact, it is not compliant with the basic civility.  It literally has not place for a human to be. 

Thankful today for any progress Nashville has made on walkability knowing we have a long way to go...

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Nashville Leapfrogs Ahead to Major Transit Plan: requesting that we don't forget sidewalks in the planning

'Walkability and bikeability always correspond with higher well-being. Why? An easy work commute and pedestrian-friendly streets optimize one of the most important happiness secrets: people. The happiest people socialize several hours per day'.

As Nashville leapfrogs ahead to a major transit design, I want to put a plea in for our pedestrians.  For at least the last 20 years, Nashvillians (and their mayors) have been talking about building new sidewalks.  

Talking...not actually building.  We are a city/county of 532 sq miles, only a third of which have sidewalks and most on only a single side of that particular street.  All this discussion of sidewalks was sparked by an ADA lawsuit waged against Nashville in 1999 that focused on the deficiencies of downtown.  Neighborhoods and other civic centers were not held to the same standards as we all can see.  

So, here we are.  2017.  Building 1-2 new miles of sidewalks per year when our need is 1900 miles strong.  At this rate, we have just 1000 years at best to go before we have safe sidewalk infrastructure for all.  Eighteen years after the ADA lawsuit we are now planning light rails (for the record, I'm all in and LOVE public transportation - to sit and read while on my way?  Heaven!).  Just please, Nashville, don't forget that we have to actually walk safely and comfortably to it for public transportation to be effective.

We need a finite plan for building well designed, ADA compliant sidewalks on ALL major and collector streets ASAP.  The time is now.  A 10 year plan would be ideal but a 5 year plan even better.

And, I know we have issues:  this is going to be expensive and our topography is uniquely challenging.  But, it is what is is.   It is not going to become magically cheaper or easier in the future.  

If you would like to see more new sidewalks built, please email or call your council person and let them know you would like a FINITE PLAN for sidewalking all MAJOR & COLLECTOR STREETS.  These are the big busy corridors and the major cut through streets in neighborhoods.

The Tennessean Article - an accounting of new sidewalk production in Nashville

Nashville Council Members

Nashvillians donate to many civic organizations such as Cheekwood, the Zoo, our wonderful libraries, and to  Schermerhorn Symphony.  Why not donate to NEW sidewalk production?

To Vote for where you need a sidewalk & to Donate to NEW Sidewalks

Hillsboro Pike
Literally, no safe place to walk
Major Street with bus stops

The happiest cities in America, according to new research

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Sidewalks ARE Covered by Disabilities Act, says prior White House attorney. Nashville, do you hear?

When you live in a city of almost 1 million people where only about 1/3 of streets have a viable sidewalk, typically on only one side of the road, you realize very quickly that it is frankly not safe to walk. 

If your pedestrian death rate matches, which it most certainly does in Nashville, you take note that taking a walk could literally mean your life. 

Nashville, this is unacceptable and likely illegal. 


Sidewalks are covered by disabilities act, says prior  White House attorney

June 3, 2003 -- "Laying and maintaining a network of walkways, or sidewalks, for pedestrians to move about is one of the first and most elementary functions of a municipality," wrote U.S. Solicitor General Theodore B Olson, the White House attorney, urging the Supreme Court last week to deny Sacramento's request that the high court hear a case on whether "sidewalks" must be made accessible under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

"Providing and upkeeping a network of walkways for pedestrians to get around town is a quintessential, not to mention ages old, government service."

In March, the high court had sought the administration's views on the issue. Sacramento, joined by over 200 other cities, asked the Court late last year to hear its appeal in a case it had lost at the Ninth Circuit, in which disabled individuals had sued the city for failing to install curb ramps or to maintain them, saying it refused to remove obstacles --benches, sings, wires protruding from walkways -- that made sidewalks impassable or dangerous, and that it had refused to even develop the "transition plan" required the law. The case, which has been in litigation for years, is now close to settlement. The Court has not yet announced whether it will take the case.

In the brief, the Solicitor General argued that the Ninth Circuit opinion was "correctly decided," and that it did not conflict with any prior Supreme Court decisions or opinions in other circuits -- thus, there was no reason for the high court to hear the case.

Activists who have been watching the case, called Barden v. Sacramento, expressed hope that, based on the Justice Department's brief, the Court would now refuse the case, keeping the ADA Title 2 out of the high court for now. A number of advocates praised the administration for its views on the matter -- that "sidewalks are for everyone."

In the lawsuit and in the appeal to the Supreme Court, Sacramento and other cities argue that sidewalks are not a "service" of governments as defined by the ADA.

Not true, said the Justice Dept.; ADA regulations clearly provide "that newly constructed or altered sidewalks and intersections must include curb ramps" -- citing 28 C.F.R. 35.151(e). And while this may indeed incur costs for cities, it said, "in enacting the ADA, Congress made a determination that the societal benefits of promoting community access to those with disabilities outweigh the societal costs of complying with the ADA."

Earlier, Lex Frieden, head of the National Council on Disability, a government agency, had urged Olson to advise the Court that the ADA covered sidewalks. Frieden added, "Substantial federal funding is available for making sidewalks accessible to people with disabilities," citing The Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), which authorized the use of Surface Transportation Program funds for the installation of "pedestrian walkways," and the modification of public sidewalks to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

"In addition," said Frieden, "public responsibility for making sidewalks designed and built with public funds accessible to people with disabilities did not begin with the ADA or the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Technical guidance on making sidewalks accessible has been available since 1961."

Read "Disabled gain key ally in ADA suit" by Michael Doyle from the May, 30 Sacramento Bee

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Nashville has Designed Roadways for Cars but not Pedestrians --- what can be done? A look at San Diego's similar issues.

Nashville feels like it has designed our roadways for cars and maybe bikes but definitely not for walkers.  Like public schools, post offices, roads, courts, and libraries, decent sidewalks are a basic civic right and yet Nashville is coming in woefully deficient with only 37% of our roadways set up with sidewalks. 

Other cities are being served with lawsuits for lack of safe infrastructure.  The article below is about how San Diego is being sued for lack of safe bike infrastructure despite a big push to bike more in order to curb traffic and pollution. 

Sound familiar?  We, in Nashville, have had many similar messages these past years to get moving via foot or bike but with an alarming pedestrian death rate to match.  This alarming pedestrian death rate is likely closely tied to our lack of sidewalks.

Maybe a lawsuit is in order as there is seemingly no other way to get Nashville to provide. 

Nashvillians have certainly been complaining about the lack of safe interconnected walking options for many years and yet our current sidewalk funding will make the job complete in 1000 years.   Not a typo:  ONE THOUSAND YEARS. 

And, what about the many walkers who have died this year walking in Nashville?  We have an alarmingly high rate of pedestrians killed on foot.  A walker is killed every 21 days here in Nashville.  We have speed limits of 30+ in residential neighborhoods.  We have little to no enforcement of pedestrian laws.  We have horrible lighting conditions and very few sidewalks making Nashville an incredibly deadly environment for walkers.  Frankly, we have a city that does not care about walking and it is a shameful and possible illegal situation.   There are federal laws that cities must comply with and we do not seem to be getting even close.

San Diego facing three new bicycle injury lawsuits in wake of $5M payout

Eight months after San Diego paid nearly $5 million to a bicyclist severely injured by damaged sidewalk, the city is facing three more lawsuits from injuries related to bicycling.
One suit blames the city for a bicycle-on-bicycle crash in a Balboa Avenue eastbound bike lane, which is frequently used by cyclists traveling both directions because the city hasn’t built a westbound bike lane on the street.

Another suit blames the city for a bicyclist being launched by damaged concrete in a bike lane in Carmel Valley. And the third suit blames the city for a man getting electrocuted by a bike rack on El Cajon Boulevard in Talmadge.

The lawsuits come as San Diego is encouraging more people to commute by bicycle to fight climate change, reduce traffic congestion and ease parking scarcity.  They highlight the city’s lack of adequate infrastructure to accommodate a sharp surge in bicycling commuters, a problem city officials say they are focused on fixing with a regional network of bike lanes that’s being slowly constructed.

Cycling advocates say the network will fix a glaring oversight by city planners, who designed streets in San Diego with specific places for cars and pedestrians but no designated travel lanes for bikes.

San Diego is also grappling with cyclists using sidewalks on streets that lack bike lanes because they feel safer there.

The man who got $4.85 million from the city in March was riding on a tree-damaged Del Cerro sidewalk city officials had been notified about five months before the September 2014 crash.

The crash left Clifford Brown with torn spinal cord ligaments, several lost teeth and brain damage that makes him incapable of functioning independently.

The man injured in the Balboa Avenue bicycle-on-bicycle crash describes similar injuries in his lawsuit, which was filed in September.

The November 2016 crash into another bicyclist allegedly threw Douglas Eggers backward and caused a serious brain injury when his head struck the ground on Balboa near Tecolote Canyon.
He was hospitalized for six weeks and then transferred to a neuro skills facility in Bakersfield where he is still being treated.

Eggers’ lawsuit says the city is at fault because the bike lane it built on Balboa Avenue in 2008 is ripe for head-on collisions.  That’s because the street has only one bike lane that is designated for eastbound cyclists, but westbound cyclists also frequently use the lane to avoid the dangers of riding on such a busy street.

His lawsuit says the city should have created a wider bike lane on the north side of Balboa with a divider to accommodate two-way traffic, or the city should have constructed a separate westbound bike lane on the south side of the street.

The suit also notes that the city’s Bicycle Advisory Committee has received complaints about the lack of a westbound bike lane on Balboa.

The injured cyclist in the second lawsuit, Michael Cizaukas, describes somewhat less severe injuries he suffered after being thrown from his bicycle by a two-inch “launching ramp” in a Carmel Valley concrete bike lane buckled by a tree.

Cizaukas says he suffered fractured bones, a separated shoulder, muscle tears, hearing loss and a concussion from the crash, which took place in May 2016 on Carmel Canyon Road near Tarantella Lane.

The suit, filed in August, says the city is obligated to provide cyclists with a hazard-free bike lane and that the city should have known about the raised concrete and fixed it.

In the third lawsuit, also filed in August, Jasper Polintan says he was electrocuted while locking his bike to one of three blue metal bike racks on El Cajon Boulevard near 50th St. in Talmadge.
His suit says he suffered damaged to his upper extremities and other injuries that have reduced his earning capacity.

Polintan says the city failed to provide adequate safeguards and should have either properly installed, repaired or maintained the bike rack.

In preliminary responses to the suits filed with the court, attorneys for the city say city officials were unaware of the problems and that the injured cyclists didn’t take proper precautions.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Nashville is an 'F' in regards to Walkability and Part of that is a Funding Issue - maybe another lawsuit is the next appropriate step?

A recent Tennessean article highlighted the woeful underfunding of new sidewalks in Nashville.

Our current Mayor started by stating her commitment to building sidewalks but, with our current rate of progress, it is projected to be 1000 more years before Nashville is fully sidewalked.  That is far from a true commitment to walkability.

To me, walking is a basic human right.  In my city, where I pay taxes, I should be able to walk safely from point A to B.  I should be able to allow my children to walk safely, too.  But, in Nashville, you literally cannot walk in a safe and comfortable fashion.  We only have sidewalks on 37% of our streets. 

It is also turning out to be the deadliest year on record for Nashville pedestrians with more walkers killed this year already than all of last year.  Just this morning, another pedestrian has been struck and taken to a local hospital.

A reminder to all Nashvillans, our city was sued for American with Disabilities Act Non-Compliance and settled around the year 1999.  As a result, the Strategic Sidewalk Plan came out in 2002 with a master plan.  It has, sadly, never been properly funded. 

60 Million in funding is just not going to cut it.  I give Nashville and Mayor Barry an F for walkability and our statistic support it. 

Maybe another lawsuit is in order?

This is a bus stop near a busy shopping district in Nashville which is literally unwalkable. 

New sidewalk construction by Metro Nashville Public Works
    January 2016 - October 2017: 3.5 miles (1.9 miles/year average) with 1900 miles to go....

    2015: 1.4 miles
    2014: 2.0
    2013: 1.9
    2012: 0.8
    2011: 1.7
    Source: Metro Nashville Public Works, Tennessean analysis

Percent of streets with sidewalks
Minneapolis 92%
Seattle 71%
Austin 50%
Nashville 37%
Source: Metro Nashville Public Works, WalkNBike Draft Plan (2016)

L.A. agrees to spend $1.3 billion to fix sidewalks in ADA case

Apr 01, 2015 

Los Angeles is pledging to spend more than $1.3 billion over the next three decades to fix its massive backlog of broken sidewalks and make other improvements to help those with disabilities navigate the city as part of a tentative deal being described as a landmark legal settlement.

The proposed agreement would resolve a lawsuit filed by attorneys for the disabled, who argued that crumbling, impassable sidewalks and other barriers prevented people in wheelchairs or others with mobility impairments from accessing public pathways in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act.

The final terms must still be approved by a federal judge, but attorneys described it as the biggest agreement of its kind in U.S. history.

City leaders said the proposed deal marks the beginning of a sorely needed effort to eliminate one of Los Angeles' most intractable neighborhood nuisances: the ugly and treacherous obstacle courses created by miles of buckling walkways.

City officials and advocates for the disabled praised the agreement at a news conference. Communities Actively Living Independent and Free Executive Director Lillibeth Navarro, whose group was among those suing the city, called it "a major win" for people with disabilities who had suffered frustration and injuries trying to move around the city. Councilman Paul Krekorian said it was a historic victory not only for people with disabilities, but also for the elderly and "anyone who is ever a pedestrian."

Under the terms of the proposed settlement agreed to by the City Council and announced Wednesday, the city must spend $31 million annually on sidewalk and other improvements beginning in the next budget year. That amount would gradually increase to $63 million in future years to adjust for rising costs.

The settlement doesn't identify any new source of funding. But City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana noted that the deal does not limit the type of funding Los Angeles can use to pay for the repairs, meaning the city could seek various grants for the work.

It's unclear whether the promised money will completely eliminate the backlog. The Bureau of Street Services has estimated that about 40% of city sidewalks need repairs. At one point, the price tag was estimated at $1.5 billion. But Santana said there is no reliable estimate for the full cost.

UCLA urban planning professor Donald Shoup said: "It's sad to think that the only thing that has caused any movement in 40 years is a lawsuit.… But of course I'm glad they're doing it."

Even with the promised spending, he added, "It would take decades to fix our sidewalks."

Mayor Eric Garcetti said he believed the spending would be enough to stay ahead of any ongoing deterioration of aging city sidewalks. Attorney Guy Wallace, one of several lawyers representing plaintiffs in the case, said the record agreement was larger than a major, $1.1-billion settlement reached several years ago with Caltrans, the state transportation agency.

The Los Angeles suit alleged that lack of public access for Angelenos in wheelchairs "relegates them to second-class citizen status" and prevents them from being independent. Wallace said at a news conference that more than 200,000 Angelenos with mobility disabilities had struggled to navigate "dysfunctional and inaccessible" sidewalks. Tim Fox, a Denver-based attorney who is on the national board of the American Civil Liberties Union, said the settlement represented an unprecedented move by a city to broadly improve access to its sidewalks for the disabled.

The city plans to start by repairing sidewalks around parks and other city facilities, but will also fix walkways in other areas that are heavily trafficked, close to hospitals or workplaces, or requested by people with mobility challenges, including those alongside homes, Santana said. The only sidewalks that would be categorically left out are those next to buildings run by other government entities, including the Los Angeles Unified School District or federal or state agencies.

Funding to fix sidewalks has been haphazard over the years, and the city abandoned any systematic sidewalk repair program after the recession hit seven years ago. As the economy has improved, the city has revived its program and budgeted $27 million for repairs this year.

So far, Los Angeles has focused its efforts on walkways next to parks and other city facilities. Some council members have also devoted money from their discretionary funds to fix sidewalks in their districts. But the problem remains glaringly obvious in many areas and has cost the city more than $6 million in trip-and-fall payouts in less than four years, according to the city attorney's office.

Kathleen Law, 73, a Hollywood resident whom the city paid $50,000 after she tripped on a jagged sidewalk and shattered her right knee cap in 2008, said the plan was overdue.

"It's absolutely a must," said Law, adding that she still suffers pain from her injury and has had to drastically curtail her preferred form of exercise — walking. "There are some streets I just can't walk on because it's too risky."

The deterioration of city sidewalks is tied to a historic tug of war over who is responsible for fixing them. Los Angeles once held property owners responsible for fixing the adjacent sidewalks, conforming with California law. But decades ago, with federal funding in hand, the city took on responsibility for fixing sidewalks damaged by city trees.

That federal money quickly dried up and Los Angeles voters proved unwilling to pony up more tax money to continue repairs. In 1998, a move to authorize $769 million in bonds for sidewalk work was rejected. Last year, lawmakers abandoned a plan to ask voters to hike the sales tax to pay for street and sidewalk repairs.

Shoup argued that the city should pursue additional measures, including requiring owners to fix broken sidewalks next to their property when they sell.

The proposed settlement is silent on who is legally responsible for sidewalks next to private property — leaving the door open for that kind of program, Shoup suggests. Santana said city lawmakers still have to grapple with those types of issues.

Under the terms announced Wednesday, the city can reduce its annual spending slightly — to $25 million — but it must make up for it within the next three years.

With the City Council's approval of the settlement terms, city lawyers can present a final agreement to the court.
In addition to the $1.3 billion pledged for repairs, the city will pay $15 million in attorneys fees and costs. Wallace said the city is also creating a position to monitor the work and will draft reports on its progress twice yearly.

L.A. agrees to spend $1.3 billion to fix sidewalks in ADA case
A buckled sidewalk at 4th and Main streets in downtown L.A. (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times)