City Council, it’s time to fund transportation plans and programs!
Part of advocating for smart growth is connecting with our elected leaders to emphasize the importance of funding effective, forward-thinking policies and programs. We recently sent the following letter to the entire Council (including the five newly elected members) and the City Manager, asking them to support funding in the new City budget for four key priorities that will improve transportation safety and access in Charlotte.
Dear Council Members, Mayor Lyles, and Manager Jones,
Charlotte is at a crossroads in managing exponential growth to promote greater economic opportunity and equity, and in assuring a sustainable economic and environmental future for all our citizens. As you craft the city’s operating budget and street improvement bonds for the next fiscal year, we urge you to provide full funding for four key programs that will help meet those goals.
Among the most important is CDOT's Vision Zero Program, designed to reverse the tragic and fast-growing number of pedestrian deaths and injuries on Charlotte's streets and CDOT's Bicycle Program, designed to make cycling a safe, viable mode of transportation. How dangerous are our streets today? Consider these recent CDOT statistics:
- In 2017 we had a record 27 pedestrian deaths versus 15 in 2016.
Pedestrians and cyclists account for less than 3% of Charlotte's street users but account for almost 30% of traffic fatalities.
- Between 2012 and 2016, 238 people were killed on Charlotte streets in transportation-related incidents -- an average of 48 people per year.
Both Vision Zero and the Bicycle Program received enthusiastic support from Council last year, via approved plans, but they remain unfunded. In fact, when City Council approved a new 25 Year Transportation Action Plan last year, they adopted a commitment to Vision Zero. Similarly, last May Council approved a new five-year Bicycle Plan -- after a year of staff time and community input -- that requires $4M per year to implement.
Now we need to turn these two Council-approved plans into action by allocating the funds needed to implement them. If we do not, we send a signal to our citizens that we are unwilling to honor our own plans and promises, and that the time they invest in providing input on City plans is a waste of their time.
In addition, Charlotte's Pedestrian Program and the Open Streets 704 Program deserve financial support to continue the important work that has been accomplished through those programs and help reverse the alarming spike in pedestrian and cyclist deaths.
Together these four programs - Vision Zero, the Bicycle Program, the Pedestrian Program, and Open Streets 704 - represent a key part of Charlotte's strategy to promote more affordable living and build a safe and accessible city for all Charlotteans. Affordable transportation, affordable housing, and public safety should be part of a multi-faceted approach to tackling affordability and economic mobility in Charlotte.
We know you must weigh many priorities during the budget process. We strongly believe these four programs will allow you to advance many of your priorities as outlined above, and as such, they deserve to be funded.
Thank you for your service, and if you would like any additional information about these programs, please don't hesitate to contact me.
As we continue working towards a healthy, equitable and vibrant community here in Charlotte, we look forward to working with all of our elected officials.
Want to share your priorities with City Council? You can contact your Council Member here.