How Does Nashville Really Stack Up To Other Cities On Walking And Biking? Here Are Some Charts

Jul 5, 2016

Nashville has a habit of comparing itself with other cities. Now a new study by Metro Public Works finds how the city stacks up against others in terms of walking and biking, total miles of sidewalks and greenways, and Metro’s role in funding and maintaining its system.

This new “Peer And Aspirational Cities” report (see charts in slideshow above) is part of the WalknBike project, which is due to create a mobility action plan by the end of the year.

So far, Metro has conducted meetings and a survey.

Preliminary findings show at least 80 percent of residents don’t think walking or biking is safe, convenient or practical.

When asked to share testimonials on video, some described the experience of getting around town as “scary” or “like asking for your death bed.”

In the latest report, Nashville generally scored better than Memphis, Louisville, Indianapolis and Raleigh — which are labeled as peer cities. But Nashville pales compared to Austin, Denver, Seattle, and Minneapolis, which are considered aspirational places in this case.

The report shows Metro has actually spent more on sidewalks and bikeways than all eight — but they’re stretched thin here because of how sprawling Davidson County is. And in total sidewalk miles, Nashville is behind all but Raleigh.

As for bicyling, Nashville finds itself in the middle of a popular trend. Most of the cities are moving away from simple bike lanes and toward protected bikeways, which are separated from traffic.

There is one measurement where Nashville is right in the middle — the B-Cycle bikeshare program here has 31 stations and 263 bikes, which is ahead of some of the peers, but well behind the aspirational places like Seattle and Minneapolis.

A second survey is underway now through the end of July to inform the city on preferences for future sidewalk and bikeway projects. The next WalknBike steering committee meting is 8 a.m. Aug. 4 at The Martin Center, 2400 Fairfax Ave.