More than 20 youth from the YouthQuake PBC summer program hit the streets with Sustain Charlotte and the West Boulevard Neighborhood Coalition's Equitable Transportation Team last week to identify challenging conditions for pedestrians and transit riders along Clanton Road near its intersection with West Boulevard. Although all of our Walk2Transit walking tours are family-friendly, this was the first one in which we purposefully partnered with young leaders to serve their community!
These junior advocates found a wonderfully walkable bus stop, but also some problem areas they'd like to see improved so that their neighbors can have an easier and safer pedestrian experience.
Equipped with surveys and observant eyes, the youth found challenges and opportunities for pedestrians.
The youth quickly pointed out features they liked at this bus stop in front of the Arbor Glen Outreach Center.
This bus stop offers a comfortable experience for transit riders. It has a shelter, eight seats, a crosswalk across Clanton Road just yards from the stop, a street light directly at the stop, and a wheelchair ramp with a textured panel for visually impaired people. The long pedestrian refuge island down the middle of Clanton Road improves crossing safety and gives a visual reminder for drivers to slow down.
As we sat down at this cozy stop to fill out the surveys, some of the youth shared their ideas for improving other nearby bus stops. Watch the short video:
Lower walkability near West Blvd intersection
But the next bus stop to the north paled in comparison. It was just a "stick in a yard" with no seating, light, shelter, or concrete pad. Even the youngest of our volunteers noticed the huge difference in the quality of these stops. We talked about how decisions are made by our city to put more amenities at and near bus stops with higher ridership. This led to a discussion among the youth about which comes first: the high ridership or the bus stop amenities? One of the young ladies commented: "Everyone should have a nice bus stop. More people will ride the bus if you give them a good place to wait." We can't argue with that!
A few other challenges we identified?
The narrow back-of-curb sidewalk on Clanton Road near West Blvd gets even narrower due to encroaching dirt.
The pedestrian signal across Clanton Road at West Blvd is obscured by tree branches. We also observed several cars pulling up too far and stopping in the crosswalk rather than behind the solid white line. This is an extremely wide intersection without pedestrian refuges. That results in an uncomfortable walk from one side to the other.
A growing community partnership
We're excited to bring together our Walk2Transit initiative and our partnership with the West Boulevard Neighborhood Coalition Equitable Transportation Team's #MoreThanADot campaign. For more than a year, we've been meeting monthly with residents of West Blvd area neighborhoods and transportation decision-makers to plan and implement strategies for safer streets for walking, bicycling, and riding public transit. Read more here.
If you've been following us for awhile, you may remember the Youth Sustainable Transportation Fair that we organized and hosted with Youthquake PBC in the summer of 2015. So you can imagine how thrilled we were to be invited back to partner with the youth for a service project to help solve the transportation challenges they learned about!
Find out more on August 8
Our efforts and the work of the Equitable Transportation Team are yielding BIG results! Please join us and the residents on Tuesday, August 8th as the Charlotte Department of Transportation (CDOT) hosts a drop-in public meeting from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. at the West Blvd Library (2157 West Blvd, Charlotte 28208). You'll learn how the consistent engagement and input of residents has resulted in significant short-term and mid-term recommendations from CDOT. Everyone is welcome! Even if you don't work or live in the West Blvd area, please come and check out this amazing example of how neighborhood-based partnerships are moving a community forward in a major way.
More work remains
While the recommended safety improvements will make it much easier for people to cross West Blvd, it will still remain difficult to walk or ride a bicycle along West Blvd. We'll share much more information about the specific recommendations and the perspective of residents on what improvements are still needed in the long-term after the August 8th public meeting.
We'll share the survey results that the youth gathered with Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) and CDOT so we can work on walkability solutions together.
About the project
Walk2Transit is Sustain Charlotte's initiative that gives a voice to bus riders and transit advocates. A voice that will result in tangible improvements to the walkability of Charlotte's highest need bus stops. Walk2Transit is funded by Transit Center.
Sustain Charlotte's partnership with the West Boulevard community to work for safer streets is supported by Wells Fargo.