Discovering Charlotte outside the car

Sustain Charlotte and Charlotte Chamber GreenWorks recently led a tour of the many sustainable options that our city's residents and workers can choose from for commuting, exploring, and even living without a car. The benefits of transit, walking, and cycling for transportation became quite obvious thanks to our incredible guest speakers! We learned how "out of the car" transportation options support sustainable urban land use, cleaner air, and economic opportunity.

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At Scaleybark station, Dan Fogel explained the tour logistics.

We kicked off the tour at Scaleybark light rail station and rode together to Bland Street station, where UNCC Professor Emeritus Dr. David Walters explained how the construction of the LYNX Blue Line light rail has rapidly spurred dense residential development. He pointed out examples of poor design: "cars behind bars" ground-level parking, blank concrete walls at eye level, and parking lots facing the rail trail. We also learned about what's working well along the light rail. More ground-level retail establishments including a clothing store and several restaurants have opened in recent months. This investment will help to build South End's reputation as not only a convenient place to live, but also a fun and dynamic destination that's easily accessible without a car. What's still lacking in the South End housing boom is affordability. Charlotte is now the 21st most expensive rental market in the nation. The area needs more diversity of housing types and prices.

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Branyn and Jordan led a group on bicycles from Bland St. to 7th St. station.

Then it was on to Uptown! Most of us rode the light rail, and several rode on their own bikes or B-cycles to 7th Street Public Market. If you've never been inside the market, you'll be amazed by how many vendors are available in this space! The market's Executive Director Chris Clouden explained how it provides small businesses with a steady stream of customers and low overhead costs, allowing them to start up and thrive at this location thanks to its proximity to the light rail.

Bob Cook from the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization (CRTPO) shared an opportunity for everyone in the CRTPO region (Iredell, Mecklenburg, and Union NC Counties) to share their ideas and vision for the future of transportation. The CRTPO is engaging the public this summer as they prepare to update the Comprehensive Transportation Plan, a long-range document that represents the Charlotte area’s long-term vision for how the transportation network should evolve to serve residents and employers. It includes all highway and street, bicycle, pedestrian, and transit projects. We encourage YOU to submit your input, too! The CRTPO staff have done a fantastic job of making the website and input process user-friendly.

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Megan Green's air quality game showed us how different pollution sources contribute to ground-level ozone.

Traveling without a car also helps to keep the air that we all breathe clean. Megan Green from Mecklenburg County Air Quality reminded us that the 2016 summer ozone season will be a critical time for Mecklenburg to stay in compliance with the newer and more stringent EPA air quality standards for ground-level ozone. She led a game that kept us guessing about how much four different sources of pollution contribute to formation of ground-level ozone, a pollutant known to be harmful to human health at high concentrations. Not surprisingly, cars and on-road mobile sources are the primary contributor in Mecklenburg County.

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CATS CEO John Lewis Jr emphasized the importance of investing in transit to build a vibrant city!

John Lewis Jr, CEO of CATS, inspired us with a vision of a more regionally-focused transit system than Charlotte has had in the past. Following a recent trip to Denver where he saw how a unified regional effort to serve people who live and work both inside and outside of that city, Lewis wants CATS to meet the needs of a changing and rapidly growing Charlotte population by implementing some of the ideas that have been so successful in Denver. We couldn't agree more!

The event ended with time for informal networking inside the market. We're thrilled by the enthusiastic feedback shared by our guests at the conclusion of the event, and we look forward to partnering with Charlotte Chamber GreenWorks in the future to bring you more exciting, educational, and active events!

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Our guests enjoyed a fantastic cheese plate donated by Orrman's Cheese Shop.

Thank you to Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) for providing light rail tickets, and Orrman's Cheese Shop for their donation of a delicious appetizer tray for our guests!


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