NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Last year, Nashville had a record number of pedestrian deaths, with 49 people killed while walking or biking in the city.
It’s a danger that occurs throughout the city, but some areas have proved worse than others.
“Lots of factors can contribute to this, including the overall width of the roadway, engineering design of the road, and behavior of drivers passing through the intersection,” said Cortnye Stone, director of strategic communications for the Nashville Department of Transportation.
Data compiled by NDOT in partnership with Walk Bike Nashville and other city leaders shows almost 90% of high injury intersections are in “highly vulnerable” areas.
Those are areas with the highest concentrations of poverty, renters and housing cost-burdened households, based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Data indicates that people who live in those areas are also “overrepresented in traffic deaths and severe injuries.”
The findings come from the city’s Vision Zero action plan, which was officially adopted in Aug. 2022 after months of surveys and studies. The goal of the five-year plan is to completely eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries in the city.
“A major goal of NDOT’s Vision Zero program is to eliminate high-risk conflicts between vehicles and vulnerable road users,” Stone said. “Where that isn’t possible, to create low-risk situations.”
Some projects include protected bikeways, sidewalks, protected intersections, managing safe speeds and reducing vehicle demand.
In addition to “vulnerable areas” studies showed streets with more and faster traffic are more likely to be “high injury” streets. Speeding is also more rampant in areas that are considered vulnerable.
The area of Gallatin Pike between Old Hickory Boulevard and Dupont Avenue in Madison, for example, is located entirely within a highly vulnerable area.
Between 2014 and 2021, there were around 160 motorist collisions reported in the area, including 149 with minor injuries, nine with serious injuries and two with fatalities. Six of those were pedestrian collisions, with one serious injury and five minor injuries.
Stone said there is a reason why streets like Gallatin Pike and Murfreesboro Pike tend to have more dangerous intersections.
“Most of our high injury intersections and priority intersections are located on larger arterial roadways that were developed during the 40s, 50s, and 60s, when automobiles were the main priority,” she said.
However, in recent years, Stone said the city has shifted toward a “Complete Streets framework” for designing streets that accommodates all users, including pedestrians, cyclists, motorists, and transit users.
“We’re working to make safety improvements in coordination with TDOT on many of these state highways to make them more accessible for all modes of transportation,” Stone said.
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Nolensville Pike from Elysian Fields to Providence Heights is another vulnerable area with a high speed corridor, despite the speed limit being 40 mph. Since 2014, two people driving and seven people walking have lost their lives in the area.
One of the city’s most dangerous intersections for pedestrians is also located in that area of Nolensville Pike. The Vision Zero team compiled a list of the most dangerous intersections for pedestrians in Nashville. Below is a full list of the top 10 most dangerous.
1. Lafayette Street and Charles E. Davis Boulevard
2. Gallatin Pike and Neelys Bend Road
3. Gallatin Pike and Berkley Drive
4. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and 5th Ave N
5. Gallatin Pike and Madison Street
6. Nolensville Pike and Welshwood Drive
7. Murfreesboro Pike and Millwood Drive
8. Murfreesboro Pike and E Thompson Lane
9. Gallatin Pike S and Maple Street
10. 14th Avenue North and Broadway Street
NDOT encourages pedestrians and drivers to “be alert” and watch for others in the roadway when traveling across intersections. Drivers should also remember to slow down and never text while behind the wheel.
News 2 digs deeper into new safety initiatives being implemented to make roads safer for people walking or biking in Middle Tennessee. Join us for our special reports, Pedestrian Dangers, all day Thursday in every newscast and WKRN.com.