Council members, Mrs. Mayor:
My name is Jordan Moore, I am the bicycle program director with Sustain Charlotte. The mission of our program is to introduce the bicycle to our city as a transportation solution that will provide economic vitality and social justice, educational and civic opportunities and cultural vibrancy. We share a vision that Charlotte should be known world wide as a city of people on bicycles.
We come to you tonight to present overwhelming community support for implementing an idea that is long overdue for our city.
Protected Bike Lanes are common practice now internationally, nationally, and regionally. Cities whom we compete with - Memphis, Chattanooga, Atlanta, Asheville and Raleigh - have all begun construction of or adopted plans to add these facilities to their transportation network.
Our journey toward constructing these facilities in Charlotte began over 5 years ago with a request from Mayor Foxx. The city commissioned a study to determine feasibility of connecting Little Sugar Creek greenway to Irwin Creek greenway through Uptown via a protected bike lane. The consultants said it was, and they recommended 3rd Street at the primary corridor for the facility.. Unfortunately, that study turned out to be an academic exercise rather than a plan of action.
Now, as Transportation Secretary, Mr. Foxx is again encouraging the nation to begin making our urban centers places for people to be able to safely ride bicycles as a viable form of transportation.
His reasoning resonates with ours: we must incorporate bicycles into our overall growth strategy as a means of creating a sustainable future, providing healthy and affordable transportation choices to all our citizens, and to stay economically competitive, regionally and globally.
Currently, our city’s Department of Transportation, in conjunction with Center City Partners and Stewart Engineering, is again conducting a feasibility study. The Urban Trails Connectivity Study will provide us with a recommended network that would allow people to safely travel through Uptown on a bicycle from all directions. People would be able to use the Blue Line, the Gold Line, buses, and the Cross Charlotte trail to access our city’s economic, civic and cultural core.
We are asking you tonight to support this vision by approving one protected bike lane, through Uptown, that would connect the Little Sugar Creek Greenway to the Irwin Creek Greenway by the end of 2016. This would launch the process of creating a comprehensive, protected, connected network of bicycle infrastructure that will undoubtedly change the way our citizens move around our city. We don’t have the luxury of waiting anymore.
Tonight you have the opportunity to do something much greater than build a bike lane. Tonight you can steer our city in the direction of equality. So many of our residents who live under the weight of being disadvantaged live in neighborhoods that this would benefit. By connecting this lane to our greenways, we’d be connecting our leadership to our greatest challenge. Safe places for people to use their bicycles means a positive turn for social and economic mobility. Memphis, a city that has historically existed in the heart of economic hardship, is now telling a story of cultural preservation and neighborhood revitalization because of protected bike lanes. We should want to tell that story for Charlotte.
Imagine the lessons our children would learn if they could safely take their bicycles to school? Self reliance, personal responsibility and a connection to one's environment and community have long been associated with the benefits of riding a bicycle. Our children are no different, and they deserve nothing less.
Imagine the number of mothers and fathers who would love to set that example for their children. I meet them everyday. They live in Myers Park and Grier Heights, they live in Elizabeth and Optimist Park. They tell me that they would gladly use their bicycles to get around, but they don’t for fear of being struck by a motorist.
The problem is design. We shouldn’t be putting people on bicycles in the way of people in cars any longer. Because accidents do happen, and nobody wants to be on either end of something as terrible as a crash between a vehicle and a person on a bicycle.
We need to join the ranks of cities around the country who are recognizing that protected facilities, off street paths and greenways are the optimal way to design for active transportation. Our brothers and sisters in Minneapolis are doing this, and even in subarctic weather, they are choosing to use their bicycles. Why? There are many reasons, but I believe that at the core of all of them most people want to do good, be responsible and live peacefully. Providing a safe network that allows people to use their bicycles is a way to allow people, regardless of circumstance, to live to their fullest potential.
Tonight we speak for over 3,000 people in our community who have aligned their voices to ask you for this lane. Tonight we speak for more than 30 small businesses who have allowed us to hang our petitions on their front doors and in their dining rooms, tape them on their counters and their walls..
I promise you this, if you focus your energy this year on getting this ONE in place, I am convinced that next year I won’t have to ask for more. That protected lane will speak for itself. I won’t have to say a word. People will be riding on it and they will be connected, and they will love it.
In one sense, tonight we speak for a long line of leaders who’ve carried the ball this far down the field, and we are asking you to pick it up and run. The benefits are endless when we design for safety, beauty and equality. The intended purpose of our streets is to move people. Tonight we ask you to let them move freely and safely as they choose.