Good evening City Council, Mayor, and Staff,
My name is Elina Shepard. I am the program manager at Sustain Charlotte. We’re a nonprofit organization that advocates for sustainable land use and transportation choices.
We’ve been following the development of the FY 2023 budget and tonight, I want to voice our strong support for the record-high amount of proposed funding for bike and pedestrian infrastructure improvements. Given Charlotte’s rapid population growth, and the need for all people to safely travel regardless of the mode they use, we think it’s critical that the budget includes funding for sustainable transportation modes.
As you know the budget includes $50 million for sidewalks, which is more than three times the amount in the 2020 bond. Sidewalks provide a safe way for people of all ages and abilities to reach their destinations.
The recommended budget allocates $4 million to fund Vision Zero, a doubling of the 2020 bond. As a member of the city’s Vision Zero task force and a strong advocate for the adoption of a city-wide Vision Zero goal four years ago, Sustain Charlotte is especially excited to see a recommendation for an additional $13.1 million in bond capacity to be applied to Vision Zero investments to help Charlotte make progress toward its goal of ending traffic fatalities and severe injuries.
We are also very excited to see the recommendation that $8 million be spent on the Bicycle Program. For years, Sustain Charlotte has been advocating for better biking infrastructure in our city, and we believe Charlotte is on the right track by making this investment.
For most families, transportation and housing are the two major household expenses. People of all income levels deserve a safe and dignified place to live. We support the budget recommendation for affordable housing and efforts to reduce displacement risks.
We fully support the proposed $7.1 million investments in the SEAP (Strategic Energy Action Plan) in FY 2023, so that the city can reach its 2030 and 2050 climate goals. A fast, frequent and reliable CATS bus network will be a powerful tool to shift more residents out of cars. Please support funding for CATS’ operations and the Envision My Ride bus priority study and implementation to make this a reality.
In closing, I want to challenge City Council to become a champion of mobility and support a dedicated revenue source to build a Transformational Mobility Network so that people can walk, bike, ride transit, and use greenways in their daily lives.