Tactical Urbanism Reimagining Nashville's Broadway Ave

Nashville's embrace of temporary urban interventions is producing amazing results that are capturing the imagination of both locals and tourists alike.

The first phase of this pilot project focused on expanding the effective width of the sidewalks while also maintaining loading zones by simply placing metal barricades along the street. The metal fencing added 6’ to the sidewalk by simply reclaiming on-street parking spaces with a protected walking area. Two traffic lanes were also reclaimed by adding a quick restriping project that created a dedicated 24 hour loading zone for deliveries, musicians and taxicabs. Additionally, a Taxi stand was created on 4th Ave.

Ron Yearwood of the Nasvhille Civic Design Center indicates that this simple 90-day experiment fed officials’ appetite for more experimentation, “Seeing immediate success and lower rates of pedestrian/vehicular conflicts as well as reducing jaywalking, these barriers have remained with incremental changes and experiments. Around the same time, we (the NCDC) began conversations with Gehl Studio and facilitated a few presentations around the city and within Public Works to continue this pilot project and help take it to the next level.”

This fencing pilot also coincided with the installation of diagonal crosswalks to help minimize points of conflict between pedestrians and vehicular traffic while crossing the street. In a diagonal crosswalk, traffic from all directions are stopped simultaneously via traffic signals, at which time pedestrians can cross the street in any direction. The primary advantage is that pedestrians can cross the intersection without any conflicting motor vehicle movements. Pedestrians can cross the intersection straight or diagonally, thereby completing two crossings at once. The ‘Barnes Dance’ takes its name from traffic engineer Henry Barnes, who served as street commissioner for a number of major American cities in the 20th century, including Denver, Baltimore and New York. Barnes didn’t invent the pedestrian scramble, but he did popularize it during his time in office. The Barnes dance got its name when a reporter wrote that the crossings made the people so happy they were dancing in the streets.; The ‘Barnes Dance’ works when everyone follows the traffic and pedestrian signalizations.

“Minimizing areas of potential conflict between pedestrians, cyclists and vehicular traffic increases safety, and this is our priority,” said Mark Macy, Public Works Director. “Throughout the Lower Broadway pilot program, we have been and will continue to look for ways to make this area safer in a manner that complements the character and setting of this iconic Nashville corridor.”