Pedestrian deaths set a record in Nashville in 2019 and then hit an even deadlier level last year with 39 lives lost. Now an analysis from advocacy group Walk Bike Nashville is identifying trends in the incidents.
Collisions after dark and in areas with sparse street lighting are common factors, and often coupled with speeds over 40 mph. Studies show those strikes are rarely survivable.
WalkBike asked Vanderbilt University student Kamala Mullur to parse hundreds of pages of 2019 Metro police reports. She found three-fourths occurred after dark, and that nearly half (45%) happened during mid-block crossings, away from crosswalks.
“Oftentimes it’s a very far distance with a lot of walking,” she says, “and it would sometimes be half-mile or even a mile out of a pedestrian’s way to walk all the way to a crosswalk, cross, and come back.”
Her counts — including cross-referencing a list of deaths kept by the Nashville Rescue Mission — found 27% of the victims in 2019 were experiencing homelessness.
A separate WalkBike review of fatalities from 2016 through 2020 finds more than 80% occurred on state-controlled arterial roads, which have more lanes and higher speeds.
In recent years, the group has pushed for different roadway designs and safer and more frequent crossings. Those are among the tenets of what’s known as Vision Zero, which is a slate of action steps provided to cities that buck the notion that walking deaths are inevitable. Nashville mayors have tended to endorse the ideas, which strive for the elimination of such deaths.