Walk to School Day highlights issues with dangerous Nashville roads for students

“This is the danger zone for speeders.”
Nashville students walk along dangerous roads
Published: Oct. 4, 2023 at 5:49 PM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - Hundreds of Metro Nashville Public School students skipped their cars and buses on Wednesday morning and instead walked to class along what are normally considered dangerous roads.

The annual ‘Walk to School Day’ event highlighted areas with new ways to protect students, but many people want more to be done.

Shwab Elementary School recently added sidewalks. However, the East Nashville school only has a handful of students who walk to class every day because parents think Dickerson Pike is too dangerous for them. TDOT has named this stretch of road as one of the deadliest in the state.

Cars drive within feet of people walking along Dickerson Pike with the sidewalks only installed on one side of the road. Troy Conley lives down the block from Shwab Elementary and watches students struggle to cross to their school every morning and afternoon.

“This is the danger zone for speeders,” Conley said. “Way too much traffic, too many people and a lot of people are not watching what they are doing.”

He said infrastructure in the area doesn’t protect people. Sidewalks end into fences and cars are often forced to back into traffic out of business parking lots.

Walk Bike Nashville is working with NDOT to install more safety features along Dickerson Pike, including a pedestrian island right outside the school, to allow more students to walk. Their volunteers helped escort students to class on Wednesday.

“Kids show up to school ready to learn more than if they just hop out of a car,” executive director Meredith Montgomery said. “Obviously, it’s better for our environment.”

The event at 40 Metro Schools showed where safety can still be improved. City leaders said they are committed to adding more crosswalks and sidewalks to allow more students to walk to school daily.

Conley would like to see more lights and warnings to slow people down along Dickerson Pike even when students aren’t around.

“You might as well get the police here with a gun and stand there with a radar gun,” Conley said. “So, you can catch how fast they are going because they be going on the weekends.”

Mayor Freddie O’Connell will join Shwab Elementary students on Wednesday morning as they walk to school.