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?

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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 research 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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A big weekend of celebrating sustainable and equitable transportation in Charlotte!

What an amazing weekend for Sustain Charlotte, jammed-packed with events that promoted sustainable and equitable transportation!

First on the weekend agenda was Sustain Charlotte's Art for All | Bikes for All on Saturday, May 6.  This was a wonderfully collaborative effort that brought together almost 60 people for an immersive guided cycling tour of West Charlotte’s Inside|Out art installations.   

Despite some light drizzle in the morning, the clouds cleared for a wonderful day that showcased the newest Inside|Out art installations along the Stewart and Irwin Creek Greenways.  

 

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Dozens of leaders honored at Sustain Charlotte Awards Celebration

Against the stunning backdrop of the LaCa Projects Gallery in Uptown, Sustain Charlotte welcomed over 300 guests to celebrate the achievements of dozens of sustainability leaders based in the Charlotte region.

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City Council Hears From Bicycle Advocates at Public Hearing

We were in good company last night at the City Council public hearing for the draft bike plan, Charlotte BIKES. Sixteen speakers, including Sustain Charlotte’s Bike Program Manager Kate Cavazza, shared their views on the plan.  Read her comments here and follow this link to watch the video.  

Some of our City’s youngest riders from the Park Road Montessori School spoke in support of bicycle safety, greenways, and protected bike lanes!  We even saw a familiar sticker on this cyclist’s helmet -- #ibikeclt!  

Let’s commit to a bolder plan and fully fund it to ensure we can compete with our peer cities -- and become a healthier, more equitable, and vibrant community where everyone can safely access all our city has to offer by bicycle. 

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Walk2Transit volunteers hit the streets for better bus stops

 

thumbnail.JPGWatch a clip of our Walk2Transit volunteers sharing their thoughts after our walkability tour. 

44 new residents per day are joining Charlotte's rapidly growing population. But in spite of that growth, CATS bus ridership is declining. Why aren't more people choosing transit? A major reason identified by CATS CEO John Lewis is that the timing, frequency, and coverage of the current bus network isn't meeting the needs of riders. CATS' Envision My Ride initiative will address that problem through a major bus network redesign process, which we're keeping you updated on. Check out the first round of changes proposed for June. 

Where are all the bus riders?

But what about the experience of bus riders as they walk to and from stops? Sustain Charlotte's Walk2Transit project is an 18-month effort to identify, evaluate, and advocate for improvements to bus stops that are tough to walk to. 

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Update on the new rules shaping Charlotte's growth!

Predictability.

It's often missing from Charlotte's development process. If we expect to grow sustainably for decades to come, we must create a vision now of what growth should look like in different parts of the city. Both developers and residents need to have a clear understanding of that vision and how the zoning ordinance works to support it. 

Why update our zoning?

Development in Charlotte is anything but predictable. City Council handles mountains of time-consuming conditional rezoning requests each month. Our zoning ordinance is a massive and complex beast at 15 chapters. Contradictions even exist among all of the various development-related ordinances. Many projects being built throughout Charlotte are entirely inconsistent with area plans.

Most importantly: "The current Zoning Ordinance does not adequately implement the community’s goals for smart growth and sustainability." (UDO website)

The Unified Development Ordinance creation process was discussed at the April 10 Charlotte City Council Transportation and Planning Committee meeting. Charlotte's overhaul of its outdated ordinances related to development includes two key components:

First, the Vision: Place Types define the places we want to create. 

Second, the Implementation: The Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) will establish the rules to create those places. 

Moving towards a Place Types Palette

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A few of the many potential Place Types to be included in the final palette

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Big first month for Way2Go CLT!

629,931 calories burned.

$13,155 saved.

12.6 tons of carbon dioxide (greenhouse gas) kept out of our atmosphere.

This is the impact we've made together in just the first month of the Way2Go CLT sustainable transportation challenge! And because a picture is worth a thousand words, we'd like to introduce our new friend, Way2Go Willie:

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He's also in it for the shameless bragging rights.

Way2Go Willie loves to save money, reduce his contribution to pollution, and burn calories by making better transportation choices. He'll be helping us track the very real difference that your participation in Way2Go CLT is making each month.

If this rad little cardboard dude isn't enough for get you excited about Way2Go CLT, then check out the top performing teams and individual prize winners for March!

The March 2017 Way2Go winners are...

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