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Vanderbilt hosts Moving Forward event to discuss Mayor O’Connell’s transportation plan

Posted by on Wednesday, May 29, 2024 in Biking, Biking, FutureVU, MoveVU, News, Transportation.

Vanderbilt University, in collaboration with Vanderbilt University Medical Center and Moving Forward, recently hosted an important event aimed at addressing Nashville’s transportation future. The gathering, centered around open discussion with Mayor Freddie O’Connell regarding the “Choose How You Move” transportation plan, was held Monday, May 20, at the Vanderbilt University Student Life Center.

Acting as a platform for community engagement, the event provided a forum for attendees to learn more about Mayor O’Connell’s ambitious transportation improvement plan, “Choose How You Move: An All-Access Pass to Sidewalks, Signals, Service, and Safety”. With over 150 in attendance, including elected officials, community leaders and citizens, the gathering offered a unique opportunity for Nashvillians to engage directly with the mayor and offer valuable feedback.

Mayor Freddie O’Connell and Ashley Northington engage in a Q&A session with audience members (John Amis/Vanderbilt University)

“We are thrilled to host such a critical discussion on the future of transportation in Nashville. This event exemplifies Vanderbilt’s commitment to community engagement and moving our city forward,” said Eben Cathey, senior director for local government relations.

The event showcased Vanderbilt’s multifaceted role as a convenor, a leader in education and a research enterprise within the Nashville community. By bringing together diverse stakeholders to address pressing transportation challenges, Vanderbilt aims to foster innovation and drive positive change for Middle Tennessee residents.

Michael Briggs presents the “Choose How You Move” plan (John Amis/Vanderbilt University)

A comprehensive presentation on the “Choose How You Move” plan was delivered by Michael Briggs, who currently serves as Director of Transportation Planning for Metro Nashville while on leave from Vanderbilt’s Office of Transportation and Mobility.

Ashley Northington, chair of Moving Forward of Middle TN, led a conversation with Mayor O’Connell and facilitated questions and concerns raised by attendees.

“‘Choose How You Move’ pulls the best ideas from over 70 plus plans completed in the last decade. Everyone will benefit from the sidewalks, signals, service, and safety improvements programmed on major streets throughout Nashville,” said Mayor O’Connell.

“This will transform how we connect our neighborhoods, keep our residents thriving by lowering their transportation costs, and address the needs of our modern city with a 24/7 workforce. Nashvillians overwhelmingly agree that we are long overdue for significant upgrades to our transportation systems and understand the need for reliable and frequent transit service. ‘Choose How You Move’ will put these plans into action,” he said.

Mayor O’Connell also commended Vanderbilt and VUMC for their leadership in making transit options more accessible for their employees. Both institutions offer free access to public transportation, including buses and commuter trains, effectively reducing barriers to transit use.

Left to right: Alex Jahangir, Krishnendu Roy, Ashley Northington, Ben Simpson and Michael Briggs (John Amis/Vanderbilt University)

The occasion brought together distinguished guests like Krishnendu Roy, dean of the School of Engineering, Dr. Alex Jahangir, executive medical director of the Vanderbilt Center for Trauma, Burn, and Emergency Surgery, and Ben Simpson, chief policy officer at the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, as well as representatives from Walk Bike Nashville and Moving Forward.

Audience engagement was a key highlight, with a dynamic Q&A session and interactive displays showcasing Vanderbilt’s mobility research initiatives such as the I-24 Motion project, as well as pedestrian safety initiatives from Walk Bike Nashville.

As Nashville continues to evolve, initiatives like “Choose How You Move” and collaborative events like Moving Forward’s forum series serve as crucial stepping stones towards a more accessible, sustainable, and connected future for all.

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