Skip to Content

Mayor Barry Signs New Executive Order for Nashville to Build ‘Complete and Green Streets’ during National Bike Month

May 24, 2016

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – In celebration of Bike Month in Nashville and throughout the country, Mayor Megan Barry today signed an Executive Order formalizing a ‘Complete and Green Streets’ policy for her administration, guiding Metro departments on the construction and maintenance of public streets to improve environmental quality and enable safe access for people of all ages and abilities, regardless of their mode of transportation.

“I’m thrilled we’ve been able to work with Metro departments, the Council, and key community stakeholders on finding a path to new policy for Nashville’s streets. This policy will not only enhance community livability for citizens ages 8 to 80 – whether they walk, bike, take transit, or drive – but also seek to reduce the impact of street infrastructure on our rivers and streams,” said Mayor Barry. “With my signature on this Executive Order today comes a new way forward for those charged with implementing Nashville’s street policy, including our vibrant neighborhoods, and I look forward to working with all of you.”

While Metro Government has had a formal policy requiring that streets be designed to accommodate all modes of transportation since 2009, when Mayor Karl Dean issued the city’s inaugural Executive Order for Complete Streets, the Order signed by Mayor Barry today advances existing city policy to:

  • Add a focus on green-street infrastructure elements to help reduce pollutant, temperature, and runoff impacts to local bodies of water.
  • Shift the framework for “complete” from straightforward multi-modal accommodation to a broader focus on offering people meaningful, safe connections to goods, places, and opportunities, no matter how they choose to travel.
  • Call for consistency of complete-street standardized dimensions in key design manuals referenced by Metro’s traffic engineers. NashvilleNext’s transportation plan, Access Nashville 2040, and its Major & Collector Street Plan, as well as Metro’s other modal plans, such as the Strategic Plan for Sidewalks and Bikeways, which is being updated this year, will be the basis for any changes.
  • Delineate an interdepartmental, interdisciplinary, transparent review and approval process for considering any exceptions to the Complete and Green Streets policy.
  • Direct Metro to establish a means to track and publicly report on the success of its policy implementation with performance measures derived from NashvilleNext guiding principles, including an equity measure to help address Nashville’s rising health disparities in low- to moderate-income communities.
  • Incorporate a “vision zero” policy statement that says Metro must seek to work collaboratively toward achieving a system of streets with no traffic fatalities or serious injuries.

“I appreciate Mayor Barry’s leadership on making Nashville safer and more convenient for all modes of transportation,” said District 19 Councilmember Freddie O’Connell, an inaugural member of the Mayor’s Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Committee and former Metropolitan Transit Authority board chair. “I look forward to working with the Mayor and Metro departments, my fellow Councilmembers, and the community to explore further opportunities to strengthen our laws and policies to ensure Nashville’s street infrastructure can meet the needs of citizens of all ages and abilities, now and into the future.”

Mayor Barry was joined at an Executive Order signing ceremony this morning by department directors and key staff for Metro Planning, Public Works, Water Services, Health, and MTA; Metro Councilmembers serving on the Public Works and Transportation committees; members of the Mayor’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, a diverse group that reviewed the new policy while still in draft form; the Mayor’s Infrastructure Team; and representatives of the American Heart Association, Walk/Bike Nashville, and the Greenways Commission.

complete streets executive order signing

“The American Heart Association supports Mayor Barry’s efforts to complete our streets with features that allow people of all ages and abilities to move about safely – especially in those communities where people have no other option but to walk, bike, or take transit because driving is impossible for whatever reason,” says Ken Harms, board chair of the Greater Nashville American Heart Association (AHA). “National and local health data also affirms these areas tend to suffer higher rates of poor heart health and potentially stand to benefit the most from active transportation facilities that connect people to jobs, education, primary care, and healthy food.”

Nashville is also working to ensure its Complete Streets policy endures in public right-of-way, even throughout a building boom that frequently blocks sidewalks and bikeways. Councilmember Burkley Allen is sponsoring an ordinance to strengthen Metro’s permit process to provide pedestrians and cyclists safer and more convenient accommodation or detour around construction zones, as well as requiring contractors to work more expeditiously to restore sidewalks, crosswalks, and bikeways to their original intended purpose.

“With construction underway all over Nashville, Metro really needed to act to keep the most vulnerable users of our public right-of-way – pedestrians and bicyclists – safe and mobile near these job sites,” said Councilmember Burkley Allen. “A total closure of sidewalks or bikeways during construction should be a last option, but if they do need to be closed, contractors should provide safe, alternate routes that are easy to navigate – in the same sense that we’re well accustomed to providing for car traffic. We looked at what other cities have done to address these competing interests from a regulatory standpoint, and this legislation advances Nashville’s approach.”

In the 2016-2017 capital spending plan, Mayor Barry proposes to set aside an unprecedented $30 million for sidewalks, $35 million for street paving, $24.5 million for roads and bridges, $5 million for greenways, and $20 million for transit. And as part of Metro Public Works’ paving program, this summer Magnolia Boulevard near the Vanderbilt and Belmont campuses will be outfitted with Nashville’s second left-sided bikeway. Cyclists traveling toward Belmont University will have a dedicated lane, and a bike lane on the right side of Magnolia Boulevard will be separated from vehicular traffic by on-street parking.

Find more information about Bike Month.