In sprawling Charlotte, traffic jams point to climate solutions

By: Sarah Wesseler (Yale Climate Connections) For Shannon Binns, fighting climate change means not talking about climate change. Binns is executive director of Sustain Charlotte, a nonprofit that advocates for smart growth in booming Charlotte, North Carolina. Since founding the organization in 2010, he’s led initiatives ranging from an annual sustainability awards program to a popular competition promoting alternatives to solo driving. But although the ideas he champions – less sprawl, fewer cars – mirror those recommended by climate experts, carbon is not one of his talking points. “It’s not something that’s talked about in Charlotte, because it’s so politicized,” he said. “We’ve just learned over the years that we can impact climate change without having to talk about climate change.”     Continue reading

'I've almost been hit': Walking in Charlotte is becoming more dangerous

By Steve Harrison and Gavin Off (Charlotte Observer) Shannon Binns is the executive director of Sustain Charlotte, which lobbies the city for more spending on sidewalks and bike lanes. He said it's good that CDOT will respond directly to people asking for crosswalks and that his organization has taken advantage of that by mobilizing residents so they are heard. "But the process also needs to be data-driven," he said. "Neighborhoods shouldn't be forgotten." Though the city said it tries to be equitable, some thoroughfares and neighborhoods are missed. The city's pedestrian program receives $7.5 million a year, which has been unchanged for at least a decade, even as the city has grown by 150,000 people. Continue reading

Local Entrepreneur Mass Producing Unique Environmental Product to Combat Plastic Waste Contamination through Public Support

Marc Mataya, Charlotte resident and serial inventor, created the Leaf Burrito®, a reusable yard waste removal bag, which is designed to help eliminate detrimental single-purpose plastic bags. Currently in use in Charlotte, the Leaf Burrito® won the 2017 Sustain Charlotte Award in the Waste Reduction category. "Leaf Burrito won the Sustain Charlotte Award for a reason. Great product, easy to use, making where we live a better place for us and generations after us. It is a cutting edge leader in the Sustainability arena," stated Shannon Binns, executive director of Sustain Charlotte. Read full article here.

Charlotte's parks are consistently ranked worst in the country. Here's why.

Meg Fencil is a program director at Sustain Charlotte, a nonprofit that addresses sustainability issues arising from Charlotte’s growth. Charlotte is one of the fastest growing cities in the country — about 60 people move to the city every day. “The population growth is just so high that the current budget is not allowing Park and Recreation to acquire land quickly enough,” she said. Research has shown that living close to parks is related to higher physical activity and healthier weights, said Fencil of Sustain Charlotte. Read the full article here.

The secret to attracting more transit riders in Charlotte

(By Shannon Binns) Although Charlotte tops the list of U.S. cities losing riders, there’s an overall downward trend in ridership in 31 of the 35 largest metro areas. But the few cities bucking the trend - Seattle, Phoenix, Houston - have one thing in common: They’re strategically improving their transit networks with a focus on providing fast, reliable, frequent, and walkable bus service. Read the full article here.

Pedestrian dangers along Independence Boulevard

(By WSOC TV) A Channel 9 investigation reveals a serious danger along East Independence Boulevard in East Charlotte and it’s getting the attention of city leaders. After months of monitoring the area from Sharon Amity to WT Harris, Chanel 9 cameras caught dozens of people darting across the 10-lane road in front of traffic. People ran, walked, jumped over the tall median wall, and one even road a hoverboard in traffic going faster than 60 mph. “It has become, really a barrier for walkability,” said Meg Fencil, of Sustain Charlotte. Her organization has been pushing for safer pedestrian crossing throughout the city. The group has been more vocal after 2017 was so deadly. A record 27 pedestrians were killed in Charlotte. “We have to start designing our streets to account for human behavior and not just for the needs of people in cars,” said Fencil. Read the full article here.

Memorial honors cyclist struck and killed at south Charlotte intersection

(By Elsa Gillis, WSOC TV) A memorial has been set up at the intersection where a cyclist died when she was struck by an SUV in south Charlotte Saturday morning. Stacy Stranick was taken to Carolinas-Medical Center-Main, where she was pronounced dead at 11:21 a.m., police said. "It's an absolute tragedy,” Kate Cavazza, with Sustain Charlotte, said. “Last year was the highest pedestrian and cyclist death rate in Charlotte -- 27 pedestrians were killed in 2017. There are some infrastructure changes that are well around Charlotte that need to be addressed." Read the full article here.

Life on Two Wheels: Dockless Bikes Take Charlotte By Storm

(By Michelle Boudin, StyleBlueprint) It’s called bike sharing. You may have seen evidence of it around town and not realized exactly what was going on. You know those bright green and orange bikes that seem to be parked at random locations? That’s what we’re talking about. Last year, the Charlotte Department of Transportation (CDOT) started the pilot program, encouraging several bike share companies to come to town. The idea is to help the Queen City become a more bike-friendly city. Between all the different companies, there are more than 2,000 bikes up for grabs — mostly in the Southend, Dilworth and Uptown areas. Shannon Binns, the Executive Director of Sustain Charlotte says, “It’s fantastic! We’re such an auto-oriented city, and this is giving the people of Charlotte another option — and an easy option.” Shannon adds, “What’s nice about these dockless bikes is that they’re not limited to a certain part of town, and I think this pilot program has turned Charlotte into more of a bike city.” Shannon’s organization, Sustain Charlotte, will host Biketoberfest again this October for the third time, and he expects to have a bigger crowd than ever thanks to the dockless bikes. “It’s fantastic. These bikes have been a huge hit already, and it was a cold winter. I can’t wait to see how many people are on bikes by summer!” Read the full article here.

Local advocates study how to make areas near bus stops safer

(By: WSOC TV) Charlotte is bursting with public transit options, but walking to the bus stop can be dangerous. Local advocates have released a new report on how to make them safer. Sustain Charlotte studied each of the major intersections and areas near bus stops. Now, Sustain Charlotte has some ideas on how to improve safety. The group released a wish list from transit riders. They want more crossings, including signalized crossings and islands pedestrians can stand on, along with wider sidewalks and safer behavior from drivers, and better bus stop amenities, such as shelters and lights. Read more.

Red-light cameras save lives, studies show. City manager says don't bring them back.

(By Steve Harrison, Charlotte Observer) Charlotte City Manager Marcus Jones said Monday he doesn’t recommend that the city bring back red-light cameras, despite studies that have shown the cameras improve safety. Read more here: Shannon Binns, executive director of Sustain Charlotte, said the recommendation was “very disappointing.” “We have people running red lights with reckless abandon,” he said. “It causes accidents. It contributes to people not feeling safe.” Read more here. Read more here: