Achieving Built-Environment and Active Living Goals Through Music City Moves

Nashville, TN, has made great strides toward its goal of physical activity being a part of daily life for all residents, thanks in part to its planning department’s leadership of Music City Moves (MCM), a community partnership to make the region’s built-environment more pedestrian and bike friendly.

Nashville was already focused on increasing physical activity in its population when Music City Moves (MCM) received an Active Living by Design (ALbD) grant. Many components of the ALbD community action model were in place prior to the grant (preparation, promotion, programs, policy and physical projects). The grant was an opportunity to accelerate meaningful policy change through significant improvements to land-use policy and regulations, development of health programs and events, and identification of low-cost improvements to the built environment that would increase opportunities for biking and walking. The initiative focused county-wide on all residents, although some programs targeted population sub-sets.

Key Findings:

  • MCM’s head agency, the metro area’s planning department, was in an ideal position to offer political and multidisciplinary leadership and coordination through the complex process of major regulatory change.
  • While the impact was not immediate, macro-scale zoning, planning and building policy changes are beginning to create long-lasting physical changes countywide.
  • Upper level leadership from two mayors has been critical to increasing public awareness and reinforcing political will.
  • Education both inside and outside of government has taken time but has been key to making players understand the new mission and what is to be gained.
  • Education and public awareness efforts must be ongoing to keep everyone on board.
  • The program grappled with the countywide scale of its goals by focusing activities in specific areas where other governmental actions supported MCM efforts.

Nashville, through MCM and the active support of governmental leaders, has gone beyond changing its built environment and is changing the culture-paradigm of its community.