Big changes ahead for Charlotte area transit network

We're excited to see the first proposed changes to the CATS (Charlotte Area Transit System) bus network! This first round of route changes is scheduled to roll out when the LYNX light rail BLE (Blue Line Extension) opens, currently scheduled for March 2018. These changes are the first phase of implementation for CATS' Envision My Ride initiative to redesign the bus network to better meet the needs of current riders and attract new riders. At their June 28 meeting, the MTC (Metropolitan Transit Commission) voted to approve this Bus-Rail Integration Plan.

When the original LYNX Blue Line opened on a weekend in 2007, bus route changes were rolled out on the following Monday. A similar plan will be implemented for changes to bus routes that connect with the BLE. A map of the proposed changes is available at the bottom of the Envision My Ride page. On that page, you can also view a short presentation of approved changes to bus routes that have already been implemented.

ProposedServiceChanges.JPGProposed changes to bus routes for the BLE opening

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Residents volunteer across Charlotte to support safer walk to bus stops

Sidewalks that end in muddy lawns.

Faded crosswalks.

Four lanes of 45 mph traffic with no signalized intersections (traffic lights) in sight. 

A flattened decaying possum in the middle of the sidewalk.

No, this isn't a twisted game of Jeopardy. These are actual challenges that were identified during our two Walk2Transit bus stop walkability tours last week!

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So many committed volunteers for the Monroe Road tour!

Last week was a scorcher, but that didn't stop dozens of volunteers from AARP Charlotte, Monroe Road Advocates, and area neighborhoods from helping us document these and other problems during two Walk2Transit bus stop walkability tours.

On Rozzelles Ferry Road in West Charlotte and Monroe Road in Southeast Charlotte, we helped connect residents to each other as we partnered on an advocacy project to improve transportation choices! We were honored to be joined by John Autry (NC House Representative, District 100), Dimple Ajmera (Charlotte City Council, District 5 and candidate for At Large), and Ryan McGill (candidate for Charlotte City Council, At Large).

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Protected Bike Lane Uptown & Parkwood Rd Diet Recommended to City Council!

Together, we did it!

We asked the City for a safe way to access Uptown via bike and they have agreed to do it!  We asked them to make Parkwood Avenue and The Plaza safer for all users, and they have agreed to this too!  

Read on for all the exciting details from City Council's June 19th meeting!

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Building connectivity back into Charlotte's disconnected neighborhoods

You don't have to look at a map of the Charlotte area for long to figure out which neighborhoods were built before and after the time that ownership of cars became widespread. As the grid-based blocks of the 19th and early 20th centuries gave way to cul-de-sacs beginning in the 1950s, we rapidly lost the foundation of vibrant neighborhoods. We lost our connectivity. 

At Monday's meeting of the City Council Transportation and Planning committee, staff from the Charlotte Department of Transportation and Planning Department told the history of how Charlotte lost its connected street network and how they are working to rebuild it. 

Click here to view the presentation shown at the meeting. The presentation was for information only, at the request of the committee.

Where are Charlotte's most walkable neighborhoods?

Just look to Uptown, Plaza Midwood, Dilworth, South End, Wesley Heights, and a handful of others near the city's core. What they have in common is short block distances and many, many choices for getting between any origin and destination. Charlotte and other cities across the country once built streets on a grid-like network:

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Our most walkable neighborhoods have excellent street connectivity.

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URGENT Action Alert: Greenways

Dear Mecklenburg County Residents,

I’m writing to ask for five minutes of your time today.

Because the extent to which Mecklenburg County’s greenways will grow next over the next five years will be determined in a matter of days, and you can make a difference -- if you act now.

This Tuesday the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners will vote on the county’s budget for the next fiscal year, which begins on July 1 (three weeks from today). They will be also be voting on the five-year capital budget for fiscal years 2019 – 2023.

I urge you to contact your County Commissioners today to affirm your support for completing the remaining greenway projects in the 2008 Greenway Master Plan within the next five years by including the funds needed in these budgets.

Click here to view the letter we sent them.

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County Commissioners: Please Complete the 2008 Greenway Master Plan

Today we submitted the letter below to the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners and County Manager Dena Diorio regarding funding for completing our 2008 - 2018 Greenways Master Plan:

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June 11, 2017

Dear Commissioners and Manager Diorio,

You have a terrific opportunity right now to complete a connected greenway system that will provide healthy outdoor recreation opportunities, spur economic development, increase property values, and provide more safe and efficient ways to travel by foot and bicycle.

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Bugs, Bluegrass, and Bus Stop Porch Swings

Did you know that Sustain Charlotte staff and volunteers educate thousands of people each year during community events? In addition to organizing our own outreach events and programming, we love to partner with other organizations by participating in their events. It's an awesome way to reach new audiences and have a lot of fun at the same time!

Spring is typically our busiest time of year for community events, and 2017 has been no exception. This past Saturday, our staff and volunteers educated, engaged, and united area residents at three unique community events.

East Charlotte Spring Celebration

We kicked off the day at 9:00 a.m. by joining the City of Charlotte's Neighborhood and Business Services staff for the East Charlotte Spring Celebration at of Memorial UMC on Central Ave. Together we celebrated the success of the Front Porch Swings Project, an innovative effort to foster communication among diverse residents and dignify the experience of riding public transportation. Funded through a Knight Cities Challenge grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the swings have already begun to inspire children and adults alike to enjoy the simple pleasure of slowing down to enjoy conversation. Sustain Charlotte is honored to have played a partnering role with the city over the past year to help bring the swings to the community!

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Wouldn't you love to wait for the bus here? (Photo by Neighborhood & Business Services)

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Why We Support Charlotte's New 5 Year Bike Plan

After several constructive meetings and collaborative dialogues with CDOT staff, we fully support the new draft of the city’s new proposed five-year plan (called Charlotte BIKES) and urge City Council to adopt the plan this Monday, May 22nd.    

Here’s why.

We have been heavily involved in the new edition of the bike plan since the first draft became publicly available in February.  We then researched our peer cities’ bike plans and based on our analysis we submitted official comments via the public comments, met with CDOT staff (a few times), and voiced what we liked and didn’t like about the draft plan during the plan’s public hearing at the April 24nd City Council Meeting.  Click here to read what we said about the plan at the hearing.

We are happy to report that our voice has made a difference.  The newest version of the plan reflects many of the changes we requested.

Here are five elements of the plan that we are excited about:

1. Vision

Charlotte’s BIKES vision statement reads, “Charlotte will offer an inclusive cycling environment, where people of all ages and abilities can use their bikes for transportation, fitness, and fun.”

We also want to see Charlotteans, no matter where they live, be able to bike anywhere they want to go in the city no matter where they live.  

2. Commitment to Safety and Emphasis on Protected Bike Lanes

Charlotte BIKES seeks to develop a network of safe and comfortable bicycle facilities by embracing current bikeway design guidelines implemented in peer cities that recommend protected bike lanes on busier streets with fast-moving traffic.  

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How easy is it to ride the bus along 7th St or South Tryon?

Building on an illuminating first Walk2Transit audit on South Boulevard, last week we were joined by volunteers to check out conditions for bus riders on South Tryon Street and 7th Street. As we examine different locations around the city, we’re finding familiar barriers faced by people who need to walk to bus stops.

Here's what our volunteers shared at the end of our South Tryon tour:

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Can Vision Zero reverse Charlotte's rapidly rising traffic crash fatality rate?

If a bus full of people crashed and died on our streets each year, we'd probably take notice. But when the lives are lost one or two or three at a time throughout the year, it's easy to overlook the enormity of the problem.

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Disturbing upward trend in traffic fatalities

At Monday’s City Council Transportation and Planning Committee meeting, we heard unsettling news about a steady upward trend in traffic fatalities on Charlotte streets. But we also heard the official start of a conversation about how to reverse that trend and eliminate future fatalities and serious injuries.

You read that right. Vision Zero isn't about reducing serious traffic crashes. It's about eliminating them.

There’s been an upward trend of traffic crashes in Charlotte since 2012, peaking at 53 people killed in 2016. Last year, our city recorded more than 30,000 crashes. That’s the highest recorded number here ever.

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