NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Nearly 20 pedestrians have died on Nashville streets so far this year, and calls for a safer city are getting louder.
There had been a push under former Mayor John Cooper to make Nashville a “Vision Zero” city, eliminating traffic deaths. With a new administration now in office, one group is hoping to maintain that goal.
At East Park, it’s not unusual to see a bike or two. However, on Tuesday night, dozens of riders could be found, all biking down the same path.
“We’re going to go to different parks in the city, and highlight how hard it is and how much or how many bikes are in each neighborhood that need to go into town,” said one of the organizers.
“Unfortunately we’re one of the worst cities in America for biking and walking, and as we found out this week, we’re also one of the worst cities for commuting in a car,” bike rider Carey Rogers said.
The woes of traffic congestion are all too familiar for Nashvillians who spend hours on the road going to and from work. This year, Forbes named Nashville as the city for having the hardest commute.
A study from KURU Footwear also ranked Nashville as the second most dangerous city for pedestrians.
“We need to make the streets [safer]. Unfortunately, a lot of the pikes we have are dangerous for pedestrians and bike riders, but there are studies that show that making streets safer for bike riders and pedestrians also makes them safer for car drivers,” explained Rogers.
The group called it a “critical mass.”
“So critical mass means getting together a big group of bicyclists to achieve safety in numbers, and so it’s getting people who are less comfortable biking on our streets to do that safely,” explained Katherine McDonell.
It’s a situation they’re hoping to get a handle on by making areas throughout Nashville safer by bringing their concerns straight to council members.
“Group rides down to the courthouse to urge the new mayor and the new council to budget money directly for bike infrastructure in Nashville,” Rogers said.
The hope is a new council will bring a renewed push for safety, even possibly giving the Nashville Department of Transportation (NDOT) more funding.
“We lost 50 people last year who were just trying to navigate our streets safely and they lost their lives doing that; it should not be a matter of life and death trying to get around the city walking or taking a bike. It should be easy. It should be safe,” said McDonell.
The group plans on meeting at a different park each month to ride to Metro Council to demonstrate how difficult and easy it is to ride around the city.