Belmont Boulevard provides a major connection between Lipscomb and Belmont Universities, as well as Vanderbilt University as it transitions to Music Row. The street has pockets of retail carved out of residential neighborhoods with stately, historic homes.
Belmont Boulevard is a major bicycle route to downtown, and is envisioned to be even more so as Nashville’s bicycle network grows. However, there is a lot of commuter traffic during rush hours, and high speeds outside of rush hours—making it feel unsafe to cross for people walking and biking.
In the summer and fall of 2018, planners discussed the project with neighborhood associations and community stakeholders. Meeting attendees discussed what are the most important elements to include on Belmont Boulevard. Stakeholder priorities included:
- Make it easier to cross
- Slow down cars
- Create more space for bicyclists and pedestrians
- Improve bus stop access
Meeting attendees discussed a variety of design elements to incorporate in a safer Belmont Boulevard.
- Street cross sections—meaning what design elements a street contains, such as sidewalks, grass strips, street trees, vehicular travel lanes, and types of transit—greatly affect how safe a pedestrian or cyclist feels. At the meetings, the preference was for major, parking protected bike lanes. In other words, the bike lane is protected from vehicular traffic by on-street parking, and bicyclists are less likely to be struck by the opening of car doors.
- Curb extensions pull out the curb at the intersection, in the space where parking would typically go. A curb extension stops people from parking too close to the intersection or using the space as a turn lane. It calms traffic by narrowing the street as drivers approach, and by forcing sharper turns. A curb extension shortens the distance people walking and biking are crossing in traffic. In addition, curb extensions can be designed to protect bike lanes, provide better bus stop access, and incorporate art into the street.
- Crosswalk design that would better mark where pedestrians have the right of way to cross was a priority. Attendees discussed high visibility crosswalks, additional crosswalks provided mid-block, curb extensions, pedestrian crossing islands, and bicycle/pedestrian-only crossings.
- Traffic calming techniques assist in slowing down vehicles. Rumble strips could be used to alert drivers where they should slow down and where people may be crossing the street. Chicanes slow down traffic by shifting drivers back and forth from the left to the right sides of the street. Other possible techniques include narrowing the street in certain places and using medians to provide protected crosswalk opportunities.
For additional information, read the meeting summary presentation.
Learn more about Bikeway design components