Dear Mayor and Members of Council:
In solidarity with the Villa Heights, Plaza Midwood and Belmont neighborhood associations, and consistent with existing city policies, Sustain Charlotte respectfully requests immediate safety improvements to Parkwood Avenue and The Plaza (from Davidson Street to Matheson Avenue) as requested in the petition that was presented to you at your meeting on November 23, 2015.
In addition, due to the clear and present risk of death or serious injury for residents who travel by foot, bicycle, and car along this corridor and the fact that fifteen months have now passed since this petition was presented to you, we ask that you allocate funding for construction in the city’s budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2017, and the improvements be completed no later than December 31, 2017.
Further delay will result in additional loss of life and/or serious injuries to our citizens.
You have the power to prevent this.
In the new draft Transportation Action Plan for our city, one of the policies it includes is a commitment to Vision Zero. Vision Zero is a strategy to eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries while increasing safe, healthy, equitable mobility for all. In order to achieve this goal, we must shift our thinking, and act swiftly to improve our most dangerous and inequitable streets.
Per staff, between 2010 and 2015, eighteen people have been struck by motor vehicles along this corridor with two incidents resulting in death. 83% of these collisions took place between Hawthorne Avenue and Matheson Avenue.
However, the proposal staff presented at the January 9, 2017, Transportation and Planning Committee meeting does not include a road diet along the Hawthorne to Matheson segment of the corridor and therefore fails to address the current design’s inherent and proven danger to pedestrians and cyclists.
At the meeting, staff explained that the amount of congestion along the corridor is expected to increase, and given the current number of vehicles on the Hawthorne to Matheson segment of the corridor, did not recommend a road diet.
However, rather than accepting increased congestion as unavoidable, we have the ability to reduce congestion by improving the convenience and safety of other transportation modes.
In fact, maintaining the current high-speed, four-lane road without the infrastructure needed to safely walk or bike along and across the corridor ensures increased congestion in the future. Lack of safe infrastructure also reduces safe access to bus stops along the corridor because transit stops are typically accessed by walking or cycling.
In short, we cannot maintain the status quo and expect a different outcome.
Today, we have an elaborate, connected network of streets designed almost exclusively for moving cars as quickly as possible and as a result, the majority of Charlotteans who can afford to drive -- and have the ability -- choose to do so. This isn’t surprising: we intentionally designed our streets to exclusively accommodate cars for over fifty years.
Similarly, to increase biking and walking as forms of transportation and means for accessing transit, we now need to design our streets to safely and conveniently bike and walk.
The good news is that we already have a network of streets. But now we need the willingness to re-design these streets so that they accommodate safe and convenient travel on foot, by bike, by transit, and by car.
More good news: doing this is consistent with one of our city’s existing policies, our Urban Street Design Guidelines, which state “the safety, convenience, and comfort of motorists, cyclists, pedestrians, transit riders, and neighborhood residents will be considered when planning and designing Charlotte's streets.”
The current request by the citizens who live and work adjacent to the Parkwood/Plaza corridor presents a fantastic opportunity to advance our city’s goal of building complete streets that can be safely used by all.
We urge you to seize this opportunity without further delay.
Founder and Executive Director