June 13, 2010
Nashville has a reputation as a city unfriendly — if not downright hazardous — to pedestrians and bicyclists. Mayor Karl Dean has called for improved walkability and pedestrian safety in the city. How's it going so far?
Toks Omishakin, who formerly coordinated bicycle and pedestrian programs for the mayor's office, is Nashville's new director of healthy living. Backed by a two-year, $7.5 million federal grant, he'll be rolling out numerous initiatives in the coming months to improve the city's wellness and livability, including:
• A citywide bike-sharing program: By spring 2011, there will be hundreds of public-use bicycles stationed around the city, available for people to use for quick trips around town. A pilot program with 30 bikes will launch this summer at the Shelby Bottoms Nature Center and the Music City Star train station.
• Pedestrian safety study: Within the next few months, Metro will release an analysis of all the serious vehicle-pedestrian and vehicle-bicycle accidents over the past five years. The goal is to identify the most dangerous roads and crossings in the city and work to make them safer.
• Greening the "food deserts": Metro will reach out to low-income neighborhoods, where residents have limited access to well-stocked grocery stores. One program will encourage the creation of community gardens; another will install refrigeration units in small corner stores and help shopkeepers stock up on healthy fruits and vegetables for their customers.
— JENNIFER BROOKS / THE TENNESSEAN