Proposed State Law Threatens Bike Lanes in Charlotte

(By Hayley Fowler, The Charlotte Observer)

A bill in the N.C. legislature would restrict the state from eliminating a lane of traffic to add bike lanes, sparking criticism from cycling advocates.

Road diets, as the practice is often known, have become increasingly popular nationwide in the last few decades, with Charlotte among the cities focused on making space for alternative forms of transportation – most notably, bicyclists.

“The main reasons are to make it safer and more convenient for folks to use other modes of transportation,” said David Morley, senior research associate at the National Planning Association.

House Bill 44, which was originally aimed at vegetation ordinances, contains a section that would prohibit such narrowing on state-operated roads if daily traffic counts exceed 20,000 vehicles or if the narrowing would reduce traffic flow over 20 years. The House and Senate are working to reconcile differences in the bill.

Meg Fencil, coordinator of the Transportation Choices Alliance at Sustain Charlotte, said if the bill passes with its current wording, it could severely limit the city and state’s ability to determine where bike lanes are put.

“The decisions about where bike lanes should go should be made at the local level,” she said. “Not politicians in Raleigh who don’t know about the on-the-ground situation in Charlotte.”

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