Sunday, June 26, 2011

Meeting report: the question of bringing complete streets to Rosa Parks Boulevard

CM Erica Gilmore recently held a community meeting with leaders from Salemtown and Werthan Lofts and members of Walk Bike Nashville on the possibility of installing bike lands on Rosa Parks Boulevard along the TDOT construction zone stretching from Germantown to MetroCenter. Presenters included TDOT construction managers and Public Works officials.

Rosa Parks is currently wide enough for four driving lanes, an impressive median and good size shoulders on  the sides. Metro is working with TDOT on three different possibilities:

  1. Reconstruct the driving lanes as is, devoted primarily to vehicular traffic
  2. Install new bike lanes on both sides of the road, which would reduce the size of the driving lanes and the shoulders (which have been used in the past as de facto loading zones for Werthan residents), consistent with a "complete streets" plan that includes pedestrians and cyclists as well as drivers
  3. Don't distinguish separate bike lanes but integrate automobile and bicycle traffic while keeping the shoulders
I came away with the impression that we pretty much agreed that a complete streets vision is a worthy one to strive toward, but the specifics (like how Werthan residents wanting to unload groceries would be adversely affected by eliminating the shoulder) can be problematic. The presenters said that invariably when they propose bike lanes, residents express concerns about where parking will go. This should not be a concern along RPB, because technically it is a no parking zone.

But the Werthan leaders present did raise the matter of a unloading close to their building. I expressed the possibility that Public Works consider putting in loading zone signs that might address the Werthan situation. On an unrelated note I also suggested that the team considering bike options for the boulevard should take a look at the recently discussed North Nashville Community Plan, which had discussed installing bike lanes a few blocks over through Salemtown.

I plan to follow up with CM Gilmore and express support for the second "complete streets" option. However, I also intend to suggest that before an option is adopted, Werthan leaders should be given every opportunity to influence the final decision. I believe a loading zone designation would address their concerns, but since they are the community directly affected by installing bike lanes, they should be consulted during the process.

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