Sustain Charlotte applauds City for new bicycle and pedestrian studies

It's no secret that Charlotte's transportation network is primarily built for cars, not for people on bikes or on foot. But that's been changing in recent years as Charlotte Department of Transportation has taken an approach that considers the needs of not only auto drivers, but also those who cannot or choose not drive. Monday night's unanimous City Council support for a $250,000 study of at least three major arterials, or high-traffic urban streets, was a big win for the city's future! The study contract was awarded to Stantec following a competitive Request for Qualifications in November 2015. The contract is funded by $200,000 in federal planning dollars approved by the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization (CRTPO) and a 20% local match ($50,000) from Charlotte Department of Transportation (CDOT). Sustain Charlotte's Education and Outreach Director, Meg Fencil, took the podium to thank Council for their commitment to meeting the transportation needs of all residents by approving this study. Sustain Charlotte's Meg Fencil spoke in support of the arterial corridor studies. Click to view (Feb 8 meeting; 01:18) Continue reading

Council Environment Committee reviews priorities for 2016

Ever wonder how Charlotte City Council splits up the work of governing a city of over 800,000 people? Committees, of course! There are five committees, or "Focus Areas", that council members serve on. Here's what the Environment Committee is up to as they kick off 2016. Before the commitee's first meeting of the year, Mayor Jennifer Roberts shuffled the membership to include two returning committee members, John Autry (Chair) and Claire Fallon. Newly elected council member James Mitchell will serve as Vice-Chair, with Al Austin and Patsy Kinsey also joining the committee. Meet them here. Continue reading

Kicking off a sustainable new year!

Wooden Robot was a popular venue for our Five Year Birthday Bash last month, so we returned last Tuesday to host our first Green Drinks Charlotte + Sustain Charlotte Monthly Mixer of 2016! More than 70 of you joined us to learn what we're working on for the new year and to hear about the sustainability practices of our Bronze Partner, Domtar. We're thrilled to share the news that we raised over $300 at the mixer through our raffle for a quality used bicycle donated by Trips For Kids Charlotte! We know some of you REALLY wanted to win that bike, but you can still find a winning deal by checking out the Re-Cyclery's many awesome bikes available for purchase. They have an incredible variety of adult and children's bikes in stock now. Proceeds from their sales support Trips For Kids' efforts to provide hands-on cycling education and experiences to Charlotte area youth. Talk about a win-win situation!  The proud winner of our raffle prize, a bicycle donated by Trips For Kids Charlotte!  Continue reading

Sustain Charlotte speaks up for cyclists' rights

Last week when many Charlotteans had already left for holiday break, the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) released their draft Bike Safety Law Report. Unfortunately, this report includes recommendations that differ substantially from the recommendations of the state legislative committee for HB232 (House Bill 232). Although HB232 contains some provisions that would make roads safer for cyclists, the new recommendations would limit cyclists' rights to organize group rides without a complicated permitting process, to ride more than two abreast, and to use the full lane. Learn more about HB232 by reading this article from BikeLaw. We've told NCDOT that Charlotte's cycling community deserves better than this. With the report released at the start of the holiday season and only a week allowed for public comments, we had very little time to let our followers know how to add their voice. Thank you to all of you who shared our posts on social media and took action by writing to NCDOT.  Here's the letter we submitted to NCDOT to let them know that we find these recommendations unacceptable: Continue reading

We're setting the bar high for 2016!

This past Saturday, Sustain Charlotte's Board of Directors and staff gathered for our annual strategic planning retreat. Although this is a busy time of year, we place a very high priority on the planning process because it will guide our impact and growth over the next 12 months! Following a review of 2015's achievements and challenges, board members met in committees to discuss 2016 goals for fundraising, marketing, governance, and fulfilling Sustain Charlotte's mission. We're grateful to OrthoCarolina and Hygge for donating a beautiful retreat space for us to plan and dream!  We'll be sharing more of our goals in the upcoming months, but here's just a sample of the impact we intend to have in 2016: Expand our partnership with a low-income Charlotte neighborhood currently in our Sustainable Neighborhoods Program to engage residents and our Community Corps volunteers on sustainability projects that meet the neighborhood's needs. Welcome an additional low-income Charlotte neighborhood to our Sustainable Neighborhoods Program thanks to funding from the Duke Energy Foundation. Make it easier, safer, and more fun for Charlotteans of all ages and abilities to walk, ride a bike, or ride transit to their daily destinations. We're doing this through the activities of our Bicycle Program and Transportation Choices Alliance. More specifically, we're planning to bring you some very exciting new opportunities to ride a bike around Charlotte, planning Biketoberfest 2016, and continuing to work with other bicycle organizations. Bring you our biggest and best Sustain Charlotte awards yet! For the fifth consecutive year, we'll celebrate the amazing sustainability work being done throughout the area. Mark your calendar for the evening of Earth Day, April 22 and stay tuned for our announcements. We have an incredible sponsorship package this year that includes marketing benefits in a special Charlotte Business Journal Supplement. Click here to learn more. Here's a short video of our board members sharing why they support Sustain Charlotte.  Want to read their biographies? Click here to learn more about our incredible board members who volunteer their time, expertise, and passion to Sustain Charlotte. We need YOUR help to make these goals a reality for 2016. Find out how easy it is to support us as a member for as little as $3 per month!

Residents ask Charlotte City Council for a safer Parkwood Ave

Everyone deserves safe streets. That was the message echoed by four residents of Charlotte's Belmont and Villa Heights neighborhoods, as well as Sustain Charlotte's Bicycle Program Director who addressed City Council during last night's Citizens' Forum. Villa Heights resident Mark Lynch read the language of a petition, signed by more than 580 residents, that calls on City Council to make Parkwood Ave and The Plaza safer through a road diet. Click here to view the petition and learn about the many safety, economic, social, and environmental benefits that a road diet would provide to the entire city. Lynch lived in Villa Heights for two years without a car.  He expressed the daily struggles of many neighborhood residents in a similar situation. "Things I’d never given a second thought to before, now WEIGHED on me every time I had to leave my home for any reason: How freezing will the weather be today? How many drivers will yell at me from their window? What cracked-and-broken sidewalks will I have to ride on today because the road next to it has been designed to move cars as fast as possible? Will today be the day that I’m hit by one of those fast cars…?" A road diet on Parkwood Ave and The Plaza would provide safety and connectivity! Continue reading

Mixer attendees learn about Goodwill's sustainability programs

Thanks to our many members, partners, and followers who attended the November Green Drinks Charlotte + Sustain Charlotte monthly mixer at The Liberty! Stephanie Hoffman talked about how our Silver Partner, Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont, is transforming lives by equipping people with practical job skills and providing work experience. The GRID is Goodwill's unique electronics store that sells refurbished computers, vintage games and gaming systems, and computer parts. Proceeds from Goodwill sales support their programs, so your donations of gently used items will not only keep those items out of the landfill but also allow Goodwill to continue providing jobs and other services to area residents!  Continue reading

Walk Your Neighborhood inspires pedestrians to explore Plaza Midwood Business District!

The Sustain Charlotte + OrthoCarolina Walk Your Neighborhood project in the Plaza Midwood Business District was a resounding success! Over 120 people from the surrounding neighborhoods spent the afternoon exploring local businesses and destinations on foot! Continue reading

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