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Pedestrian Safety


MoveVU is Vanderbilt’s strategic transportation and mobility plan that falls under the FutureVU comprehensive planning initiative. FutureVU guiding principles call for a more walkable, bikeable, accessible and sustainable campus and preserving and expanding the campus’ park-like setting. MoveVU goals, including having 80% of trips on campus be done via walking or biking and enhancing pedestrian safety, align with these principles.

To make campus infrastructure more welcoming to pedestrians and cyclists, we are engaging the campus community in discussions about their specific needs. In 2020, we also started partnering with Walk Bike Nashville to host a series of Vision Zero seminars featuring industry professionals speaking on issues surrounding pedestrian safety and how to improve it.

Vision Zero

In January 2020, Mayor Cooper committed Nashville to Vision Zero. Vision Zero seeks to eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries while increasing safe, healthy, and equitable mobility. Vision Zero believes that all traffic deaths are preventable, and that everyone has the right to move safely in their communities. First implemented in Sweden in the 1990s, Vision Zero policies are now in place in more than 40 major American cities. The aspirations of Vision Zero align closely with MoveVU and FutureVU. Improving pedestrian safety, connectivity and transportation in and around the Vanderbilt campus is key to the FutureVU vision.

In addition, Vanderbilt has taken several steps toward achieving the vision zero goals of no pedestrian or bike fatalities or serious injuries. In collaboration with Metro Nashville, the university successfully reduced speed limits on campus to 20 or 25 miles per hour in 2019 and implemented automatic pedestrian crosswalk signals at 12 major intersections on and around campus in 2020, among other efforts.

Remembering 39 Lives Lost on Nashville Streets – January 30, 2021

Walk Bike Nashville hosted a touching virtual pedestrian memorial event “Remembering 39” to honor the 39 lives lost in 2020 due to vehicle crashes while walking along, crossing, or working along Nashville streets and highways. Unfortunately, 2020 was the deadliest year to date for pedestrians in Nashville.

Volunteers and members of Walk Bike Nashville spearheaded this memorial, and Vanderbilt hosts the interactive online map. Access the map here.

Vision Zero Speaker Series

To engage and educate the community in discussions surrounding pedestrian safety, Vanderbilt has collaborated with Walk Bike Nashville to host a series of Vision Zero webinars featuring industry professionals.

VSG X Turbo Nashville: Pedestrian Safety: Let’s Do Something About It – November 17, 2020Graphic of a crosswalk to promote the webinar on pedestrian safety

Vanderbilt Junior Kinner Patel started this webinar with a presentation on “Improving Pedestrian Safety in Nashville: A Policy to Build Upon the Foundation of Vision Zero”. He outlined what community members can do to drive policy change that improves pedestrian safety. Following his presentation, Eric Hoke (Civic Design Center), Erin Hafkenschiel (Vanderbilt University, Transportation and Mobility Office), and Will Barbour (Vanderbilt University, Institute for Software Integrated Systems) led discussions with students about infrastructure needs and pain points on campus, identifying 22 needs across 12 intersections.

Race, Class and the Pedestrian Safety Crisis – October 20, 2020 Graphic promoting the webinar on race, class and the pedestrian safety crisis

Vanderbilt seniors Veer Shah and Kamala Mullur planned and moderated this event. Author of Right of Way and founder of 3MPH Planning + Consulting Angie Schmitt started by sharing the disparate demographic distribution of pedestrian fatalities, particularly by race and age. After establishing the areas where transportation design has failed pedestrians, Schmitt outlined changes that can bolster pedestrian safety, including road diets, pedestrian islands, and retiming traffic signals to include pedestrian leading intervals. Next, Dr. Destiny Thomas, founder and CEO of the Thrivance Group, shared an unflinching presentation about the normalization of disproportionality people of color experience. She talked about historic disinvestment in communities and called for reinvestment and fully engaging the local community in any design project.

Learn more:

Data Driven Decisions – July 28, 2020 Graphic promoting the webinar on Vision Zero and using a data driven approach

The virtual meeting discussed how various U.S. cities use data to shape their Vision Zero planning and implementation, why data is so important, and what its limitations are. The event featured case studies of Charlotte, North Carolina; Denver, Colorado; and the state of Tennessee.

Speakers included:

  • Angela M. Berry, traffic safety program manager, Engineering and Operations Division, Charlotte Department of Transportation
  • Rolf Eisenger, Vision Zero project manager, Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Planning, Denver
  • Chris Cherry, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Tennessee–Knoxville

Learn more:

How to Fix Our Impossible Crossings – June 23, 2020 Graphic of a person walking on a crosswalk to promote the webinar

Nora Kern, executive director of Walk Bike Nashville, started this webinar outlining Nashville’s “Impossible Crossings”, or intersections most dangerous to pedestrians. Then, Dr. Richard Nassi, Ann Chanecka and Gabe Thum presented on a crash reduction tool, the HAWK signal, and their experience implementing it in Tucson. Finally, a group of local professionals served as a panel discussing HAWK implementation in Nashville.


  • Peter Kauffmann, Barge Design Solutions
  • Jorge Riveros, Metro Nashville Public Works
  • Daniel McDonell, Tennessee Department of Transportation

Learn more:

What Vision Zero Means for Nashville – May 19, 2020 Graphic promoting the Vision Zero Nashville Summit

Along with others interested in improving traffic safety in Nashville, Vanderbilt engaged participants in a conversation discussing strategies for eliminating traffic fatalities in Nashville while increasing access to safe, healthy, and equitable mobility options. Speakers addressed which Vision Zero policies might be most effective for Nashville, the state of the city’s roadways, and how Vision Zero policies can improve traffic safety.

Presenters included Erin Hafkenschiel, executive director of mobility at Vanderbilt; Faye DiMassimo, senior adviser for transportation and infrastructure to Mayor Cooper; and Preston Elliott, chief of the bureau of environment and planning at the Tennessee Department of Transportation.

These speakers were followed by a panel discussion featuring:

  • Nora Kern, Walk Bike Nashville
  • Bob Murphy, KCI Technologies
  • Andy Clarke, Toole Design

Learn more: