Well, 2020 has not gone as planned. Our beloved city was struck by a devastating tornado in March and now our city is dealing with a global pandemic and its economic aftermath. The advocacy work of Walk Bike Nashville continues although we've had to adapt and modify our plans. Here is a summary of the focus of our advocacy work for 2020 as of April but we know we'll have to continue to adjust our plans as our region recovers from these difficult times.
We delivered more than 2,000 petition signatures in support of the Commerce Street and Third Avenue bike lanes to Mayor Cooper on Feb. 13, 2020.
Achieve Vision Zero for Nashville
- Vision Zero is a strategy to eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries, while increasing safe, healthy and equitable mobility.
- Mayor Cooper announced a vision zero goal for Nashville at our Day of Remembrance event in February. It was a powerful moment. Walk Bike Nashville has been calling for a vision zero approach for the past two years.
- While the Vision Zero Nashville Summit we had planned for April had to be postponed, we are moving ahead with hosting a Vision Zero Speaker Series via Zoom. The first event in Walk Bike Nashville's Vision Zero Speaker Series is on Tuesday, May 19th from 9AM-10AM and will focus on what Vision Zero means for Nashville.
- The Request for Proposals from Metro for "Vision Zero Action Plan Consulting Services" was released on April 3rd and responses are due May 12th. This is the first step in Metro's procurement process to hire a consult to assist with putting together a Vision Zero Action Plan. We are glad Metro is still moving ahead with this work and the goal of our Vision Zero Speaker Series is to educate everyone involved in Metro's Vision Zero Action Plan process about best practices and lessons learned from other Vision Zero cities.
- We expect to be a part of the Vision Zero Action Plan process as a partner.
- We continue to advocate for Metro Nashville to fix the Impossible Crossings and reduce pedestrian fatalities by creating safer crosswalks throughout the city.
Build the Core Bike Lane Network
- Metro Nashville's 2017 WalknBike Plan outlined the routes for a network of bike lanes that would be separated and protected from traffic and take us in and through downtown Nashville from the North, South, East and West. We continue to work to educate elected officials and the general public about the importance of this network. In 2020, we are working with a graphic designer to create a brand and visual identity for the bike lane network.
- While we were thrilled that a small portion of this network was built earlier this year on Commerce St., plans are still lagging for construction of the 3rd Ave. portion downtown, as well as improvements to Demonbreun St. and Woodland St.
- Our office and many of the buildings around us on Woodland St. and Main St. sustained significant damage in the tornado. We had been meeting as a committee and plotting our campaign for a protected bike lane on Woodland St. for the first few months of 2020. In the days following the tornado, based on the level of damage to the neighborhood, we made the decision to pause the Woodland St. campaign. The campaign is still on hold.
- We are still advocating behind the scenes to ensure the Woodland St. bike lane project receives matching local funds so we don't lose the federal funding that was already awarded for this project.
Lower Speed Limits
- Mayor Cooper announced his support for lowering the speed limit to 25 mph on residential streets. We worked to make this change happen for years. Lindsey has been serving on the Mayor's special committee to advise him on this effort. But since the tornado, this initiative has been on hold and the timeline for implementation is now uncertain.
Families for Safe Streets
In February we started a chapter of Families for Safe Streets. This group is for people who have lost loved ones while walking or biking in Nashville and for those that have been injured in a crash as a pedestrian or bicycle rider. The group is designed to provide a community of support for victims and loved ones. The group is continuing to meet via Zoom.
Murfreesboro Pike Focus Neighborhood
- The goal of this new focus neighborhood program is to document community transportation needs in creative ways. Initially, we were planning to host a series of community workshops and then produce a community transportation vision report that identifies shared goals, priority needs, and possible short-term actions. We are brainstorming now how it might be possible to move ahead with some of these activities during this difficult time.
Public Funding for Biking, Walking and Transit
- We participated in the Mayor's transportation plan listening sessions and encouraged all of you to participate too. But while the Mayor's new transportation plan and the Vision Zero Action Plan are in progress, we are urging the Mayor to consider a list of specific recommendations for this year’s operating and capital budgets that we outlined in a letter we sent him in March. These recommendations include:
- Creating a standalone Department of Transportation.
- Adding staff at Metro Public Works whose roles and responsibilities are specifically dedicated to preventing severe and fatal traffic crashes.
- Funding WeGo Public Transit to avoid any additional cuts to service (very important to us after last year's significant cuts).
- Continuing sufficient capital funding to make incremental progress on sidewalks, bikeways, traffic calming and vision zero/safety, all of which saw significant decreases in the Mayor's capital spending plan compared to last year.
- Nora and Lindsey both have leadership roles in the Connect Mid-TN coalition. The coalition will be working in the coming months to educate the community about how transit is an essential service and is key to our economic recovery.
We are extremely grateful to the Mayor's Office and all of Metro Nashville’s public servants for their leadership of our city during this very challenging time. And while funding walking and biking infrastructure may not seem like the highest priority right now, the Metro budget process continues to move forward so we are sharing our priorities with the administration even during this difficult time. Safer and more equitable transportation choices may be more important now than ever, as our city faces significant economic and resiliency challenges in the coming year.
Changes like lowering speed limits on residential streets and the declaration of a vision zero goal for Nashville, don't just happen. It takes thoughtful strategy and carefully planned tactics to change public policy. Our advocacy program is funded directly by our members. This critical work would not happen without the support of our members. Join or renew today.