Alliance focuses on transit choices

Sustain Charlotte launched Transportation Choices Alliance on Jan. 9 at UNC Charlotte City Center’s “Made for Walking” event.

Transportation Choices Alliance is an organization that advocates for transportation options in Charlotte and the surrounding area.

Shannon Binns, founder and director of Sustain Charlotte, announced the launch of Transportation Choices Alliance and talked about the 2014 mission, which is “to increase transportation choices, and their use, throughout the Charlotte region – to improve traffic, air quality, public health, mobility and the economy.”

Sustain Charlotte is a nonprofit organization that promotes sustainability practices to improve environmental health for the Charlotte region. In November 2010, they publicly announced a vision plan for Charlotte called “Charlotte 2030: A Sustainable Vision for our Region.” The plan was created with the help of more than 100 citizens of Charlotte and a group of experts from varied disciplines, spanning academia, nonprofits, business and government sectors. It outlines 10 initiatives to create better sustainable practices in Charlotte and one of those initiatives is transportation. For a copy of the vision plan, visit sustaincharlotte.org/initiatives.

“A lack of alternatives to driving is a major driver of our air-quality problems, particularly our smog, our high carbon footprint, and it is imposing a growing social and economic cost as traffic congestion and the cost of fuel continue to grow,” Binns said.

The alliance’s goals are to educate the public on the connection between quality of life, economical benefits and transportation choices, and to rebuild community support for the 2030 Transit Corridor System Plan. That plan was adopted by the Metropolitan Transit System in November 2006. It includes the Lynx Blue Line Extension, the West and Center City Streetcar Line and a rapid transit bus line. The alliance also supports the implementation of enhanced bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.

Meg Fencil, the newly hired Education and Outreach Program Director at Sustain Charlotte and is in charge of coordinating efforts for Transportation Choices Alliance.

“We want to reach as many people as possible, educating them on the benefits of alternative transportation by bridging academic knowledge with wise-doing,” she said.

In an earlier interview, Binns said creating the alliance is “a goal that I’ve been working toward with an incredible amount of support for over a year.”

He also said that in July 2013, 80 people from more than 60 different public, private, government and academic institutions attended a stakeholders meeting about the alliance. Since then, Sustain Charlotte has polled these individuals to establish the organization’s initiatives.

Twenty-eight of the 80 stakeholder meeting attendees volunteered to be on a steering committee. Some of those members include Luis Matta, Community Relations Specialist for the City of Charlotte; Anthony Wesley, Transit Services Advisory Committee; Lynn Wheeler, Wheeler Communication and former Mayor Pro Tem of Charlotte; and David Walters, Director of UNC-Charlotte’s Urban Design program.

The Jan. 9 event was created by Walters and the Master’s of Urban Design program, so that Julie Campoli could give a presentation to the graduate students on her book, “Made for Walking.” It was later arranged that Sustain Charlotte would partner with the Master’s of Urban Design program to launch the Transportation Choices Alliance during the event, opening the event to Sustain Charlotte’s invited guests.

Fencil said 205 people attended the “Made for Walking” event. The crowd included a diverse audience of community leaders, business professionals, elected officials, concerned citizens, transportation employees and graduate students from the Master’s of Urban Design program, which hosted the event.

To find out more information about Sustain Charlotte and the Transportation Choices Alliance, visit sustaincharlotte.org/alliance. Learn more about the 2030 Transit Corridor System Plan by visiting http://charmeck.org/city/charlotte/cats/planning/2030plan.
Crystal O’Gorman is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Crystal? Email her at crystalogormanwrites@gmail.com.

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