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BOB MCKINNEY: What I know


BOB MCKINNEY: What I know

There was definitely some relief in knowing I was not eligible to vote in Nashville’s recent transit
election.

When I pretended that I could vote, my feelings were conflicted. Yes, something should be done about traffic. But I wasn’t sure if this – a light rail system — was it.

The majority of those who could and did vote believed it was not.

Voters in Davidson County soundly defeated the proposal that, according to its proponents, had the
potential to relieve the aforementioned traffic that has been increasing with the rapidly growing
population. Only it would have come at a cost – both in higher taxes and disruption during construction that would have lasted, conservatively, for a number of years.

Again, the majority was not willing to pay that price. And I’m guessing they were not convinced it would, in fact, solve the problem.

The vote was more lopsided than I thought it would be. Some attribute this to the stepping down of
former Mayor Megan Barry, who championed the proposal from the beginning and had made it one of her signature themes. New Mayor David Briley gave his endorsement, but with not near the enthusiasm of the former mayor.

To be fair, the city’s new chief executive, after taking office, immediately had much on his plate, not the least of which were trying to restore faith in Metro government eroded by his predecessor’s
indiscretions and having to launch a campaign for the special election that will be held later this month.

I’m guessing something had to give, and the transit election was not the priority it would have been for Megan Barry.

Whether that really made a difference is anyone’s guess. Now it’s over and done, and other relief
measures will have to be considered. I’m not sure what those might be.

For those who have ever commuted to and from downtown Nashville for work, you have all learned
tricks over the years to make things easier. For me, if I am on the Interstate by 7 a.m., the drive is fairly easy unless there is an accident. And if I’m aware of congestion on I-65, I’ll take Franklin Road.
In the afternoons, it’s pretty congested from 4:30 until 6. However, traffic seems to at least move if
there is not a wreck that blocks one or more lanes. If that happens, the delays are significant, and that’s where alternate routes, if you can get to them, are beneficial.

There are differing opinions on the effectiveness of the HOV lane. I have a friend who called me early
one morning about a year ago as he was making a trip to the airport and he suggested I devote an entire column to how they don’t work because single-occupant drivers use them and are not pulled over and ticketed.

As a borderline pathological rule follower, I am careful to stay out of them when I am the sole occupant of my vehicle, but I know there are those who don’t follow that rule, which is obviously difficult to enforce. With apologies to my friend, my non-scientific observation has been that, even with the violators, having that dedicated lane during peak hours helps traffic move a bit faster.

It’s not just getting into downtown that sometimes presents a problem. There is also parking and getting around from place to place once you’re there. The downtown area is sprawling now, and it can be a lengthy stroll if you’re going from, say, the State Capitol area or the Farmers Market over to lower Broadway.

This is a matter being addressed in downtown areas across the country, which is why bike-sharing and electric bike-sharing stations have popped up. A bike ride can expedite your short journey and keep you from having to move a car and figure out (and pay for) another parking place. When it’s hot and humid, the powered version keeps your sweat-breaking to a minimum, an important factor to consider if you’re going from place to place for work meetings.

Just last week in downtown Nashville, a new form of quick transportation was introduced, a scooter
system, which is the latest and greatest in convenience transportation for urban downtown areas. The electric scooters, which resemble what your children might have had at one time (or still have), top out at 15 miles per hour.

In Nashville, they hardly made their debut before the company that owns them was hit with a cease and desist letter from the city, telling them “to keep scooters off sidewalks and other Metro rights-of- way until a regulatory framework is in place,” according to a story in The Tennessean last Thursday. It seems users were leaving them on sidewalks when done, and there were also safety concerns voiced by pedestrians.

Coincidentally, I happened to read another piece about them, one that took a more global look, in
another publication. A local government official from another city was quoted as saying the scooter
companies are quick to set up their stations without consulting local governments, preferring to ask
forgiveness rather than permission, and playing the odds that some localities will not bother to regulate them as Nashville proposes to do.

I suppose, since the invention of the wheel, we’ve been dealing with the various issues and controversies that come up surrounding its use. Getting from Point A to Point B in the fastest way possible, while also being safe, will be a matter we continue to grapple with.

Innovative types will continue to present to us ways that will hopefully lessen the frustration. Flying cars, anyone?

Bob McKinney is a longtime Brentwood resident, happy husband and proud father, father-in- law and grandfather. Email him at bmac1018@yahoo.com.

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