Music City Bikeways

Amy Eskind

I bike Nashville, on greenways, on bike lanes, over sharrows (the bikes painted on the street directing cars to share the lane), through parks, and sometimes on streets with no bike provisions at all. I’m used to it, but I know it’s uncomfortable for many people to ride on high alert. So uncomfortable they won’t do it. If we are to become a more bicycle-friendly city and entice more people to ride – and I hope we do for improved public health and clean air - we must improve bike infrastructure.

A few years ago I rode the Music City Bikeway end-to-end, from Percy Warner Park to Percy Priest Dam. I was happy that the city provided the 26-mile path, and I enjoyed greenways I had never seen before and ped/cycle bridges I didn’t know existed. Riding along the river was a treat. Good for Nashville. However, I was surprised that parts of the “Bikeway” were so confusing that sometimes it was hard to tell I was on it. Parts seemed dicey, as I rode behind a building, past dumpsters and through a parking lot. Parts were not well-signed, and parts – this being Nashville – were shut down due to construction, leaving cyclists to navigate around a work area and find the trail again without the help of detour signage. The worst part was riding on the sidewalk on 1st Avenue downtown – yes, that’s part of the trail – and riding up Lower Broadway. I ended up behind a horse-and-buggy and the driver yelled to me to keep clear so I wouldn’t scare the horse. Surely the Music City Bikeway could steer cyclists away from the mayhem on Lower Broad!

I sit on the Mayor’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, so I brought this up at a meeting. A group of talented, engaged volunteers who sit on this committee, all avid cyclists, put our heads together to come up with ideas for improvement. We latched onto the idea that recreational riders and commuters would enjoy a well-signed set of buffered bike routes, delineated by color like the D.C. subway system. All of the routes would connect at a single point, and each would have a particular stated purpose. One would be a Vanderbilt/Music Row route, for example, and another the River View route. Signs would list the distance to major points of interest. The four routes defined here are intended to be an initial public offering, with more to come later. We feel that such a network, easy to navigate and safe for riders ages 8 to 80, is the ticket to increasing bike ridership in Nashville.

While the Mayor’s administration completes their WalknBike plan that will detail infrastructure priorities, we are beyond thrilled that TURBO has agreed to help us get the ball rolling with temporary signage.

If you would like to be a part of the project please contact TURBO Nashville!

Pedestrian Scramble

Ryan Darrow

I am standing at the corner of 5th Avenue and Charlotte Pike.

I have stood on this corner hundreds of times. I am a studious pedestrian and I always wait, kind of like a weirdo, whether there is traffic or not, at the intersection, patiently for the little man to light up and tell me it's time to move. I watch the traffic lights cycle. No little man. I watch the traffic lights cycle again. No little man.

I am waiting. Other people are not. Little man or no little man, they're booking it across the road. Some people are waiting with me, confused look on their face. Confusion turning to consternation. Consternation turning to incredulousness.

Suddenly, all the little men all the time are lit everywhere. I know what this is. I have heard of this. It's a fucking pedestrian scramble. And scramble I do. I walk diagonally, bravely and alone, across the intersection. I have the vague impression that others are looking at me and thinking I'm insane. This is reinforced by the fact that they continue to cross, first across one road following the crosswalk, and then across another road following the crosswalk.

I, of course, have left them in the dust.

So here is the problem. No one in Nashville knows what a pedestrian scramble is. This is not New York. This is new. I have no doubt that my fellow Nashvillians will get it with enough time. But why wait!? With a little planning, a little public relations, and some creativity we can explain this to everyone. How about let's not just switch the pedestrian crossing pattern with no warning or explanation.

I am but one man. I can help but a few. With some signage, we can help the masses. Let's get our public works education on people!

Pop-up Park at Five Points

Eric Hoke

Tomato Arts Festival is one of the great festivals typical of Nashville. It celebrates the unique and arty wackyness that is a feature of East Nashville’s DNA. The Tomato Fest takes back the streets of Five Points from its busy day-to-day traffic, transforming them into a jubilant celebration of diversity and unity.

giant tomato street mural in the center of Five Points painted for Tomato Fest

giant tomato street mural in the center of Five Points painted for Tomato Fest

Last year at the Tomato Festival, a group of Tactical URBanism Organizers (aka TURBO Nashville) vowed to reclaim public space in a desolate asphalt traffic triangle at the intersection of Gallatin Pike and 11th Avenue in East Nashville. The goal was to convert dangerous and unpleasant pedestrian space into an enjoyable, safe place that promotes walks to Five Points.

TURBO Sign asking for community input for the Triangle space

TURBO Sign asking for community input for the Triangle space

The impetus behind creating this guarded, more pleasurable area during Tomato Fest was the greater volume of people walking to the festival. This installation would draw attention to the area and begin conversation about permanent change to this egregious pedestrian space.

Part of TURBO's installation day of Tomato Fest 2015

Part of TURBO's installation day of Tomato Fest 2015

Action! Over one hundred comments were collected during the festival, ideas for improving the triangle. Revelers found delight in temporary improvements to the once unenjoyable traffic triangle. The success reverberated through neighborhood groups; new ideas and plans for the space were generated. The conversation on the triangle must keep moving forward! This could become a great, safe, multi-modal gathering place for East Nashville.

Ideas collected the day of Tomato Fest

Ideas collected the day of Tomato Fest

This year, the organizers of The Tomato Arts Festival wanted TURBO to get more involved with spaces within the fest. TURBO was asked to commandeer the gas station that sits at the northeast corner of Five Points. This is the center of the festival. TURBO was delighted to comply, creating a pop-up park focused on engaging the community in tactical urbanism.

2016 TURBO Tomato Fest Installation - Tactical urbanism furniture built on site pictured

2016 TURBO Tomato Fest Installation - Tactical urbanism furniture built on site pictured

The idea this year was to show how all people can make a change in their neighborhood. Tactical urbanist methods were on display. “Instant” benches were constructed to show how easily public gathering spaces can be created. A community paint-by-number mural was designed by artist Camilla Spadafino where festival-goers were invited to paint a Tomato Fest Mural. A pop-up skate park was created to promote physical activity, courtesy of Miken Development. Plenty of shipping pallet furniture was installed for eating areas near the food trucks.  Below, another successful installation during the Tomato Festival!

Skate ramp installed to TURBO's pop-up park

Skate ramp installed to TURBO's pop-up park

TURBO’s goal is to promote mobility, safety, and beauty in the public realm. Their ideas are not meant to be permanent solutions but starting blocks for conversation among advocates, communities, planners and government. TURBO wants you to get involved!

A Seat for Two

Kevin Tang

A couple of months ago I was on a date. And in searching for a great Nashville spot to end the date, I took her to the place mentioned by my friend -- Love Circle. Fitting, right? Although it was just a first date, no need to throw out the L word.

If you’re new to Nashville, Love Circle is a well-kept secret; a trendy yet hidden locale away from the city, located near Vanderbilt between Hillsboro Village and West End. Situated on top of a water reservoir mound, it offers the highest panoramic view of downtown Nashville. Clearly intended for a pragmatic purpose, along with a wind turbine, the spot has become a magnet for love birds, friends, Tinder dates and the like to picnic and enjoy the view. Unequivocally, it’s the perfect place to see the sunrise/ sunset and to gaze the stars.

It’s almost scripted.

But yet, it’s missing something. A view like that deserves to be savored. The hill is open, a grassy mount with no designated spot; no stake to be claimed; no place to call one’s own. Couples sit about in an ad-hock manner facing the same direction. There needs to be a seat for two.

Just one bench, for two. A seat that joins together two people in search of the same vision.

Well, we made the bench. And it seats two. And my date and I are putting it there. And it’s dedicated to couples everywhere. And it’s dedicated to Nashville. And it’s dedicated to her.

Hope you find your date and I hope you take her there. And I hope that bench will capture a wonderful memory in Nashville.

Coming soon!

Concept for bench on Love Circle

Concept for bench on Love Circle

Rear Window

Ali Alsaleh

I spend a lot of time on my balcony. Paying an unsettling amount for rent in Nashville forces me to use my amenities to their full extent, to make sure I'm getting my money's worth (although I'm pretty lax when it comes to the gym down the hall). But on my balcony, whilst relaxed and un-sweating, drinking my lobby-provided coffee, I enjoy the scenery as much as James Stewart; passing cars, dog-walkers,  Saturday night Vandy bros, the occasional poor soul attempting to parallel park-- it's a soothing ritual. But there's one repelling piece of my Krispy Kreme glazed panorama that bothers me.

Elliston Place Triangle as of June 2015

Elliston Place Triangle as of June 2015

Let me give you some geography first. I live on the second floor of The Dallas on Elliston Place, a new apartment block on the corner of 21st and Church Street; yes right across the Krispy Kreme (hence the lack of gym time). Elliston Place, the connecting street I see from my balcony, is a prime location in Midtown, boasting a vintage Nashville era, with notable locations like Elliston Place Soda Shop, Exit/In music venue, The Gold Rush bar, and many other entertainment, eating, and shopping joints. It's minutes-walk from Centennial Park, West End, and Division Street. In the daytime, West End's traffic congestion funnels into Church St./Elliston Place, and at night, the Place is pedestrian heavy with our friendly karaoke-enthused citizens. Basically, with Nashville's unbelievable expansion, Elliston Place sees a lot of action now.

But with this action, comes a responsibility; a responsibility to provide for our citizens, resident and passing-by, an environment of growth, of community, and of safety. At the split of Church Street and Elliston Place sits a small "grassy" median, a triangle divider with the sole purpose of allowing people to take a right turn. A median which I've been staring at outside my balcony for the past 10 months. This median which is unkempt, unstructured, and dirt-washed.  This median with a natural dirt path cutting through it to suggest that people find it a short-cut to their parked cars. This median gets no respect.

As a natural gateway into Elliston Place, it is a disappointment to the fun-loving, lively character of the street, an important first impression that does not reflect the amazing atmosphere and people. Thus, instead of a rotting simple median, I believe it would be pleasant to have a welcoming, grassy, shaded plot of land fit for an entrance; our very own Arc de Triomphe. Seriously, some fresh-cut grass, a couple of trees, and a bench would do it justice. But let's not stop there. How about a "Welcome to Elliston Place" sign, a little dog park, some public art maybe? (not another guitar sculpture please). Alongside litter, the median is crawling with potential for a face-lift, a well-designed and landscaped pick-me-up that the residents and friends of Elliston Place can be proud of. One that will attract the jogger to pause and stretch, or the best friends to meet up Sunday morning and reflect on how crazy last night was while they sip their over-priced coffee, or the frustrated rush hour driver passing through to say "hey, I need to check this place out tonight."

Metro's vision for a potential use for the triangle, identified as an open space deficiency area.

Metro's vision for a potential use for the triangle, identified as an open space deficiency area.

With the help of TURBO Nashville and the residents and supporters of Elliston Place, we can make this happen. And I can sit on my balcony and do exactly what I usually do, avoid the gym.