Biketoberfest 2015: A community event of lasting impressions

Photo taken at Wooden Robot Brewery by Rachel Safren, The Vital Form. Our inaugural Biketoberfest was an unprecedented community event, full of fun and excitement for people of all ages! This event was all that we had hoped it would be, as it inspired Charlotteans and visitors alike to open their minds to the joys and benefits of riding a bike around town. Here's what some of our participants had to say: What was your favorite thing about Biketoberfest? "Biking around with other people with similar interests. The awesome people I met and the cool places we were able to see. I also enjoyed that I felt like I was helping out our community by answering the questions and participating. Biketoberfest was the coolest thing I've done in Charlotte and I have lived here for 4+ years!" "Spending time with my daughter and one of her friends. My daughter is 26 and we usually meet for lunch or dinner....same ole stuff. I haven't seen her laugh and smile in awhile as much as she did on our adventure! She kept thanking me for taking her, even again the next day. She said it made her feel so relaxed biking and being outside. She was acting like a kid on that bike :) (We used the b cycles.)" "Going on an adventure with my friends to learn more about our city!" "My small group kept running into the same people along the way -- by the end, we were chatting over beers at 3C and liking each other's Instagram posts. It was cool to be a part of something where you could go your own way but still be part of a bigger group :)" "Learning I could ride my bike to all of these places I never realized I could." "Being outdoors and challenging our thinking about sustainability."   Do you plan to attend Biketoberfest next year if your schedule allows? "I wish this event would occur several times a year!" "Honestly, wouldn't miss it. We had a great time!"  "Absolutely!!! Loved it :)" "I hope we don't have to wait a whole year!!" "I took the day off work for this year's event -- I'll be there next year! :)"   Our goal was to create an event to highlight how fun and easy it is to travel around South End and Center City without a car. Did we succeed in doing that? "This was great. I had been afraid to ride my bike around the city because it didn't seem safe and this event really opened my eyes and now I want to ride as often as possible"! "My daughter went with me and she had never biked around Charlotte. She now wants a bike!"  "I am definitely going to try biking to more places from where I live now that I know how easy that was." "I just recently got my bike (August) and still felt slightly uncomfortable riding around. Every time I ride around South End and Uptown, I get more comfortable. I felt 100% comfortable the entire Biketoberfest."

Gil Penalosa Inspires Charlotteans to Create Better Urban Places

Last week, Charlotte was honored to play host to a world renowned expert on creating safe and inviting urban places for people of all ages and abilities. Gil Penalosa is the Founder of 8 80 Cities, an organization with a mission of creating public spaces that are safe and inviting for 8 year-olds and 80 year-olds. Sustain Charlotte organized a bike ride from Romare Bearden Park to Freedom Park with Gil. When we arrived in Freedom Park, he shared a key observation. "Look all around you. On this beautiful day, people are walking and riding bikes on [the Little Sugar Creek Greenway]. You see people with dogs, moms with babies, old people. Do you know why they are here? What's not here? Cars!"   Continue reading

Hot Topics at October Mixer? Sustainable Construction + Retail!

This month's Green Drinks Charlotte + Sustain Charlotte Monthly Mixer was a big one! About 60 old and new friends joined us as Gold Partners DPS Construction and Belk talked about their inspiring sustainability practices. Our new Bicycle Program Director, Jordan Moore, introduced himself and discussed his role in building Charlotte's cycling community so more people will ride for transportation. If you love riding a bike or using any other type of sustainable transportation (or want to find out how easy it is!), join us for our very first Biketoberfest next Saturday, October 17! You'll bike, walk, or ride transit to fun destinations around Center City and South End to earn stamps in your official Biketoberfest passport. The more stamps you collect, the more chances you'll have to win a TREK bicycle and other fabulous prizes. Tickets are only $15 and that includes a Recover t-shirt, craft beer, and after party concert at Triple C! Kids can join in the fun for free with a registered adult. Click here to buy tickets and join us! You can help us make Biketoberfest a success by volunteering. We have 5 shifts available, including several that would still allow you to participate in the main event. Click here to volunteer. Continue reading

Local leaders approve transportation projects for 2016 to 2025

At the August meeting of the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization (CRTPO), delegates from throughout Mecklenburg, Union, and Iredell Counties approved a list of transportation projects that will receive state funding between 2016 and 2025. Sustain Charlotte's Education + Outreach Director, Meg Fencil, read portions of a joint letter submitted to the CRTPO by members of the Transportation Choices Alliance on July 31. Check out that letter and the CRTPO's response here. Map of the CRTPO region (Image: Continue reading

City Council Discusses Zoning Update

The City of Charlotte is about to embark upon an extensive review and update to its Zoning Ordinance and Policy. At today's (August 10) Transportation and Planning Committee meeting, Planning Department staff talked about the upcoming process and gave committee members a chance to discuss their concerns and ideas.  One of the key recommendations for the update process is to strengthen the linkage between vision plans and implementation tools in order to build the type of people-oriented places that will be desirable to current and future residents. The process will include significant external stakeholder engagement. A public engagement strategy will be part of the consultant's scope of work. The Centers, Corridors and Wedges Growth Framework guides Charlotte's growth & development. Continue reading

Mixer attendees learn how a small business is committed to sustainability

Have you ever wondered how a local business can be more sustainable? Sustain Charlotte's Silver Partner Pasta & Provisions, Charlotte's family-owned Italian grocery and fresh pasta maker, is a great example of how a small business can do many seemingly small things that add up to make a difference. During our August Green Drinks Charlotte + Sustain Charlotte Monthly Mixer, Tommy George, owner of Pasta & Provisions, inspired the audience by sharing the many ways in which his business is contributing to a more sustainable Charlotte community. Tommy George discussed Pasta & Provisions' commitment to sustainability. Tommy George and his wife, Debbie, opened Pasta & Provisions in 1992 in its current Myers Park location in Charlotte. From the very beginning, Tommy George had sustainability on his mind. First things first, he told mixer attendees, he was determined to get a recycling bin on the property. While it was bit of a challenge to get the property owner to give up a parking space, Tommy was eventually successful in his request. Over 20 years later, the George's business has embraced sustainability in various ways: Before you even enter the store, a sticker on the door that says "please remember to BYOB" reminds customers to bring in their reusable bag. Pasta & Provisions distributed 500 reusable shopping bags. Employees also reflect the business's dedication to sustainability by asking "do you need a bag?" at check-out.  Tommy told mixer attendees about the creative way that he has encouraged sustainability around one of his top-selling items -- olive oil. Pasta & Provisions has 7 olive oils on tap! If that isn't cool enough, Tommy also encourages customers to re-use olive oil jars by allowing them to bring back their old jar for a re-fill. And, Tommy shared, if you forget your jar, no problem, you can grab a coffee cup from your car and fill that up with your favorite olive oil instead!  And it doesn't stop there. Customers can also get a discount by bringing in their own containers to fill with pasta sauce.  Pasta & Provisions has also committed to purchasing food packaging that is both sustainable and meets the needs of his business. These are all examples of the creative ways in which a business owner can incorporate the mindset of sustainability into their business culture and practice. We're so grateful for the generous support of Pasta & Provisions and all of our partners. To learn how Sustain Charlotte can partner with your organization, visit our partnership page.   

TCA Members Comment on Proposed Charlotte Area Transportation Projects

This July, residents of Mecklenburg, Union, and Iredell Counties had the opportunity to comment on transportation projects proposed for state funding by the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization (CRTPO). At a time when the state transportation funding process has become very data driven, it's more important than ever for residents to voice their support for transportation projects that meet the needs of our rapidly developing region. Sustain Charlotte staff wrote a letter in support of more funding for pedestrian, bicycle, and transit projects. We invited all individual and organizational members of the Transportation Choices Alliance to sign it, and submitted the joint letter below on July 31.  **Click here to read the CRTPO's response to these comments.** Continue reading

Sustain Charlotte Hosts Youth Sustainable Transportation Fair

Last Friday, Sustain Charlotte transformed west Charlotte's Arbor Glen Outreach Center into an exciting forum of hands-on learning about sustainable transportation. About 100 youth ages 7 to 14 rotated among six stations hosted by Charlotte area nonprofits and government departments. At each station, volunteers led a different learning activity to educate the youth about safe and sustainable transportation. Sustain Charlotte board member Norman Spencer assisted with a map exercise. Continue reading

Grier Heights youth uncover hidden costs of transportation choices

When we educate residents about the impact of our area's sprawling land use patterns and transportation habits, we usually share the statistic that the average Mecklenburg County household spends 26 percent of their income on transportation costs, much more than the national average of 19 percent (learn more in our 2014 Charlotte-Mecklenburg Sustainability Report Card).  But for teens who have never been behind the wheel, that's a very abstract idea. Last Friday, we created and facilitated a game to bring this statistic to life. Teens in Grier Heights mapped areas they'd like to access by bike, walking, or transit. Continue reading

Mixer attendees learn about sustainable energy innovations

When was the last time you thought about the sustainability of the hot water or heating source at your workplace? Boilers aren't at the forefront of most peoples' minds when you ask them about corporate sustainability. But they're a major user of energy in many business and industrial settings. During last night's Green Drinks Charlotte + Sustain Charlotte Monthly Mixer, Frank Salensky, CEO of Sustain Charlotte's Silver Partner Greffen Systems, explained to more than 50 attendees how his company saw potential for improving the energy efficiency of boilers. They developed a sustainable business model that's saving customers money while also reducing carbon emissions.  Frank Salensky and Erwin Morrison discussed Greffen Systems' commitment to sustainability.  Frank explained that Greffen's M2G is an advanced intelligent boiler control that optimizes the heating efficiency of hot water boilers. A unit attached to each boiler monitors the temperature of the water in the flow and return every 10 seconds. This control system keeps the boiler from firing unnecessarily. Greffen Systems products reduce carbon emissions and energy consumption by up to 30 percent with typical payback in fewer than 24 months.  Erwin Morrison and Frank Salensky ended their presentation by explaining why they support Sustain Charlotte through partnership and noted, "It's incredible what Sustain Charlotte has accomplished in only five years!" We're so grateful for the generous support of Greffen Systems and all of our partners. To learn how Sustain Charlotte can partner with your organization, visit our partnership page.  Continue reading