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Complete Streets Prioritization In Nashville

The Tennessee Department of Transportation used Replica to forecast walking and biking volumes for a proposed Nashville Complete Streets project

Published on
June 7, 2023

Agencies across the country are receiving more federal dollars than ever to support Complete Streets projects. In 2022, the federal RAISE program funded 14 Complete Streets-related projects totaling $219.8 million. As transportation agencies plan and make the case for these safety interventions, having the most accurate and recent multimodal data capturing driving, walking, biking and transit use is crucial.

When the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) was collecting information for intersection prioritization in a new Nashville Complete Streets project, planners looked to Replica for granular, contextual data to make the case for how the project would increase active transportation trips in the area. Replica data was analyzed from 2019-2022 along the Nashville corridor and also in an area with similar demographics in Charlotte, NC where a complete streets project has recently been constructed. Trends in week over week and season over season mobility patterns were collected and compared. The data showed that both areas have demonstrated growth in active mode activity; the Charlotte corridor has increased activity partially due to the complete streets project and the Nashville corridor has seen growth even without new permanent improvements made yet. The data showed that this growing area of Nashville would benefit from the kicked-off Complete Streets project, and encourage mode shift from single-occupancy vehicles to bicycling, walking and transit, especially for the shortest distance trips. It also showed which intersections have the most activity within the corridor, potentially helping to locate future crossing improvements.

First, TDOT wanted to better understand general biking and walking patterns in Nashville after the onset of the pandemic. Below Replica Trends data shows a sharp increase in biking after the March 2020 stay-at-home orders and an almost constant rate of activity. Compare this to the Private Auto trips that have settled back to pre-COVID levels.

TDOT then compared Replica Places Fall 2019 and Spring 2021 data showing the high growth in active modes (in red) along Dickerson Pike. Within the tracts it was determined that latent demand for bicycle infrastructure was most acute on Dickerson Pike, where the volumes saw the highest gains between Fall 2019 and Spring 2021.

Finally, the agency was able to examine this segment of the corridor to see who would be  impacted by additional active mode facilities  - and where people who pass through this section of the road network ultimately travel to. The map below represents volumes passing through this segment of Dickerson Pike, demonstrating that a Complete Street at this site would affect trip takers far beyond the study census tracts.

The outcome of the analysis illustrated that the planned Complete Streets project will be supported by the increased demand for bicycling infrastructure and encourage more mode shift from single-occupancy vehicles to bicycling, walking, and transit especially for the shortest trips. This method can be expanded to identify areas in a city that are seeing the highest rates of growth in active transportation in order to create safe streets for this activity to flourish. 

This blog was co-authored by William Rogers III, Active Transportation Planner II, Tennessee Department of Transportation.

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