Death of Charlotte Biker Brings Cycling Community Together

(By Ryan Pitkin, Creative Loafing Charlotte)

"The mood was a somber one at Progress Park on September 15 as approximately 75 people gathered to mourn Al Gorman, who was struck and killed by a car involved in an auto accident while riding his bike down Parkwood Avenue at the intersection of Hawthorne Lane just days before...

Numerous advocacy groups in Charlotte are in constant talks with city staff about ways to improve safety issues for pedestrians and cyclists in problem areas, and many feel the city is open to helping fix those issues. But with so much growth in Charlotte over the last decade, it's hard to keep up with infrastructure needs. There's also some disagreement in the community about what improvements should be made. While some welcome more bike lanes, others say they don't feel safe in the ones that already line some streets, like Elizabeth Avenue...

One long-time member of Charlotte's cycling community who will now be on the front lines of advocating for friendlier bike infrastructure in Charlotte is Jordan Moore, recently named as bike program director at Sustain Charlotte, where he will work for the next two years to help communicate the cycling community's needs to city staff. He said the Charlotte Department of Transportation has plenty of bike-friendly people on board, and he's hopeful they will help take Charlotte to the next level.

Moore said he wants to see an increase in the amount of people commuting to work on bikes as opposed to just riding on the weekends...'Most of the people in Charlotte's cycling community are still behind the wheel of a car,' Moore said. 'The Charlotte cycling culture is exactly like Charlotte; we're waiting to identify ourselves as more, as better. There are believers, there are people who are great riders, but overall, can we look at somebody and say, 'Get out of your car and ride with us?' That's a tough sell. This is why I'm here.'

He said he'd like to see Charlotte model itself after towns like Sevilla, Spain that have implemented bicycle infrastructure and seen their cycling population grow exponentially as a result. He says his vision is for Charlotte to become "the Copenhagen of the South."

'In the last 10 years, CDOT's really changed,' Moore said. 'They've put their focus on bicycling and pedestrian activity, but now would be the time for Charlotte to emerge as the complete leader in bicycle infrastructure. More people are not wanting to drive. It's a terrible experience. A lot of people say driving in Charlotte is one of the worst experiences they've had. In light of correcting that problem, let's throw in this huge model of connectivity that gets people out into the neighborhoods and where they want to go without having to burn gasoline.'

Moore said he will push for road diets, in which the numbers of lanes designed for cars on thoroughfares is reduced to make way for separated bike paths that run parallel. He said the work should begin on Parkwood Avenue, where it's connection to the next installment of LYNX Blue Line track can make it a hub of connectivity for cyclists and pedestrians. He said the car vs. bike argument 'doesn't exist,' because cars will always win, and that's why it's important to create separate infrastructure."

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