Nashville’s City Planners Work to Add Bike and Pedestrian Infrastructure – Nashville Scene
By Eli Motycka
The city’s bikeways map is lit up in at least six colors. Routes range from future, planned, scheduled, in progress and on hold, to complete — a patchwork of edges on top of the city’s expansive street grid.
Metro planners see the city as a riddle. This month, the city’s Department of Transportation and Multimodal Infrastructure (NDOT) will roll out its Connect Downtown plan, an attempt to map out smoother ways to move people through the urban core. Planners talk about downtown as a black box: People go in and people come out. In between, it’s a mess of Ubers, scooters, one-way streets and jaywalking, without clear arteries connecting east to west or north to south. Downtown’s rapid shift in use from a business center for suburban commuters to today’s pedestrian playground has tasked NDOT with a clunky game of catchup.
Modern urbanism draws emphasis away from cars — the pollution-making, space-wasting vestiges of the 20th century — and toward walking, biking and communal transit like buses and subways. Hardcore New Urbanists say phasing out cars is a matter of life and death, considering the risk high-speed vehicles pose to pedestrians, cyclists and other drivers, especially in the age of distracted driving. Last year was the deadliest on record for Nashville, which saw 47 pedestrians and two cyclists killed by cars.