NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Sadly, 2022 was a record year in Nashville for pedestrian deaths. We got our hands on numbers from Metro Police that are alarming, and our cameras caught pedestrians walking on dangerous roads.
“This is a really important road for the heart of Donelson here,” said Jeff Syracuse, council member for District 15, as we stood along a bustling McGavock Pike.
News 2 was interviewing Council Member Syracuse in his Donelson district when we caught a pedestrian walking dangerously close to traffic zooming by on McGavock Pike without any sidewalk for protection.
McGavock Pike is the same road where Italian tourist Matteo Barattieri was killed in a hit and run crash when walking back to his hotel from a concert at the Grand Ole Opry late on an August night.
We pulled numbers from Metro Police. Out of the 49 pedestrian deaths in Nashville in 2022, 38 happened when it was dark outside.
“When I heard about that this death occurred, it broke my heart,” said Syracuse. “Of course, if that sidewalk was there, he would have made it home safe that night.”
Syracuse gives the city’s pedestrian safety a B- grade. To make the streets safer for his district, he’s pushing Metro to build sidewalks and protected bike lanes along McGavock Pike, but he admits that price tag could run in the millions, and every district is fighting for its own chunk of money for road safety.
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“We really need to think outside the box. The one thing that is keeping us from getting more pedestrian connectivity is the cost.”
In the meantime, Syracuse proposes less expensive ideas, such as the quasi-greenway built in Pennington Bend where developers foot the bill. This will eventually connect to the Opry Mills Connector and on to downtown Nashville. Syracuse calls it a win-win: safer streets built at a lower cost.
“If we can figure out where these alternative designs are that are less costly, that’s where we really need to focus our efforts.”
Out of the 49 pedestrians killed last year, Metro records show that six happened during rainy weather, but more than half happened along the city’s large corridors like McGavock Pike.
“These traffic calming projects are really, critically important.”
Nashville has joined other cities in launching what’s called Vision Zero. Its goal is to put an end to pedestrian deaths. Their first meeting is set for later this month.