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:
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. For a more detailed description of this project, click here. Also be sure to check out our last Walk2Transit blog post to learn more about our walking audits. These tours harness the power of small volunteer teams to collect data and make observations about the “user friendliness” of area bus stops. They’re an important component of our overall Walk2Transit project because they allow us to assess exact problem areas so that we can recommend and advocate for improvements where they are most urgently needed.
What did we see?
South Tryon Audit:
On May 2nd, our volunteer team assessed an area along South Tryon Street near its intersection with Arrowood Road. We covered several bus stops that were difficult to access on foot.
Turning vehicles often failed to yield to us.
Some of the difficulties we encountered were the same that we saw in our South Boulevard audit last month: damaged or nonexistent sidewalks, few safe crossing points, and lack of lighting, among other hazards. Here are some observations and quotes from our walkability survey:
“A good 75% of drivers turning right onto Arrowood clearly saw us in the crosswalk but failed to yield.“
“We saw drivers going south not stop for a school bus [heading north] with red lights flashing, even though there is no median.”
Cracked and disappearing sidewalks like this one were annoying for our volunteer teams, but could be hazardous for people with disabilities or traveling with children.
“No lights, shelters, or crossings.”
7th Street Audit:
The next day, our team and new volunteers set out again to evaluate a section of 7th Street between Dotger Ave. and Clement Ave. This part of 7th Street and the surrounding the Elizabeth neighborhood are actually some of the more walkable and pedestrian friendly parts of Charlotte.
While walking among bus stops along our 7th Street route generally felt safer and more convenient in comparison to South Tryon, we still found some areas for improvement throughout our tour. Although bus stops here are more plentiful and better located than in some other areas, many lacked the shelters and safe nearby street crossings needed to boost and sustain ridership.
Here are some quotes and photos from our 7th Street tour:
“Very narrow sidewalk. Bus stop was close to street and in someone’s yard. We should add buffer and more acceptable waiting area.”
It’s difficult to see, but there’s a bus stop waiting area under that car!
“This area really needs a signaled crossing- there are no stoplights nearby so very few breaks in traffic occur."
The most harrowing part of our audit? Drivers failing to yield as we crossed 7th Street!
How can I help?
Walk2Transit walking audits have just begun! These tours provide wonderful insight into an often overlooked aspect of moving around Charlotte. Walk2Transit walking tours are a vital component of our overall project and the best opportunity to receive input from the public. Greater numbers of volunteers give us more perspective and stronger data that will expedite the process of advocating for change in of these problem areas. Ultimately, these walking tours are an easy and fun way to directly make a difference in the lives of thousands of our friends and neighbors.
Stay tuned to our weekly newsletter for opportunities to volunteer for a walking tour.
Walk2Transit is funded by a grant from TransitCenter.
This story was written by Jim Hemphill. Jim is an intern at Sustain Charlotte and will begin graduate studies this fall at UNC Chapel Hill to earn a Masters in Public Administration.