Campaign aims to cut 1 million driving miles in Charlotte

(by Erik Spanberg, Charlotte Business Journal) Advocacy group Sustain Charlotte launched an eight-month campaign Wednesday to reduce solo driving trips by one million miles as part of a push to make people more aware of options such as mass transit, walking, biking and carpooling. Known as Way2GoCLT, the program includes backing from the state transportation department and an online component created by Los Angeles firm RideAmigos. Shannon Binns, executive director of Sustain Charlotte, told CBJ on Wednesday at a kickoff event in South End that the goal is to raise awareness while also putting some fun into a good cause. Click here to read the full article.

The True Cost of that Parking Space

(This Op-Ed By our Executive Director Shannon Binns was published in The Charlotte Observer.) Charlotte has invested, and will continue to invest, substantial sums of money to provide residents more safe and convenient transportation choices beyond cars. These include more opportunities to ride transit, bike and walk to achieve improvements in public health, the environment and to further economic growth. Undermining the impact of these investments, however, are Charlotte’s minimum parking requirements. These requirements result in abundant parking, which make driving more convenient and affordable than it otherwise would be if parking were scarce. Demand for driving is artificially induced while demand for modes of transportation that compete with driving is reduced as a result. Many cities around the country have caught on to this insidious effect of minimum parking requirements and have eliminated or reduced them, letting the market determine (and naturally reduce) the amount of parking provided. Parking everywhere The amount of space devoted to parking will probably surprise you. Researchers estimate that 40 percent of a typical U.S. city’s total land area is used for parking. I know of no Charlotte statistics, but it is likely that Charlotte is similar to other U.S. cities because of its minimum parking requirements. So how much parking does Charlotte require? Charlotte’s zoning code requires parking for every structure that is built. For example, a newly built condominium or apartment must have 1.5 parking spaces per unit, which for an apartment complex with 300 units, amounts to 450 parking spaces or 66,000 square feet of parking (221 square feet per unit). A newly constructed office building is required to have one parking space for every 300 square feet of office space (about .75 parking spaces per person), which for an 850,000 square foot office tower amounts to about 2,800 parking spaces or 410,000 square feet of parking. As a result of all this mandated parking, it is difficult to find a city block in Charlotte that is not at least partially lined with a parking lot or a parking structure. Hurts walking But more than just inducing demand for driving, this abundance of parking significantly harms the desirability of walking. Parking requires entrances and exits, so when a pedestrian is walking next to a parking lot or a parking structure, the pedestrian is in danger of being hit by automobiles coming in and out. Entrances and exits make street-level retail undesirable so it usually does not exist in parking structures. The danger, the lack of street-level retail and the unsightliness of parking structures and parking lots all combine to make walking undesirable around them. And in Charlotte, this is an issue on most non-residential streets because of the amount of parking Charlotte requires. People who use transit walk to and from their stops and in the neighborhoods or areas around their final destination. If people do not feel comfortable walking in these areas, they will elect to drive rather than ride, so it is important for the viability of transit that walking be desirable in these areas. Right now, driving in Charlotte is by far the easiest and most convenient mode of transportation, which is due in large part to its minimum parking requirements. If Charlotte hopes to realize the full benefits of its substantial investments in non-automobile transportation infrastructure and become a less car-dependent city, it will need to eliminate its minimum parking requirements, as other cities have. 

We Should Make Driving in Charlotte Less Convenient

By Shannon Binns: Charlotte has invested, and will continue to invest, substantial sums of money to provide residents more safe and convenient transportation choices beyond cars. These include more opportunities to ride transit, bike and walk to achieve improvements in public health, the environment and to further economic growth. Undermining the impact of these investments, however, are Charlotte’s minimum parking requirements. These requirements result in abundant parking, which make driving more convenient and affordable than it otherwise would be if parking were scarce. Demand for driving is artificially induced while demand for modes of transportation that compete with driving is reduced as a result. Many cities around the country have caught on to this insidious effect of minimum parking requirements and have eliminated or reduced them, letting the market determine (and naturally reduce) the amount of parking provided. Read more here.

Charlotte area residents want safer walking and bicycling routes

(by Scott Baughman, The Mecklenburg Times) "Two local surveys confirm that residents of Charlotte and the wider region want better and safer transportation choices. The Urban Land Institute’s (ULI) Living in Charlotte 2016: Views on Housing, Transportation and Community survey and Charlotte Department of Transportation’s (CDOT) 2016 Transportation Survey both indicate that area residents desire to walk and ride bicycles more, but are not fully satisfied with the safety level provided by current infrastructure and street conditions...Sustain Charlotte is working to improve conditions for bicycling and walking through several initiatives..." Click here to read more.

Getting to Know The Society Guide.

(By SUSU, Scoop Charlotte)  Sustain Charlotte – Off the bat, it might sound as if it’s purely an environmental cause, but Sustain Charlotte is much more than that. If we are to truly tackle issues of poverty in our city, more accessible and robust transportation options are absolutely critical. Sustain Charlotte is leading the charge on this, convening the necessary people and organizations, while providing education and advocacy to ensure Charlotte has the infrastructure to sustain its growth.  Click here to read the full article.    

Sustain Charlotte receives Parsec Prize

(by The Mecklenburg Times) "Parsec Financial, a fee-only wealth management firm, recently awarded Sustain Charlotte a Parsec Prize for 2016. Sustain Charlotte will receive $15,000 and will use the funds to improve and expand their program initiatives. Sustain Charlotte is known across the region as the leading voice for sustainability. Their mission is to inspire choices that lead to a healthier and more vibrant community for generations to come. This is accomplished through educating, engaging and uniting citizens to solve Charlotte’s sustainability challenges." Click here to read more.

Wheel appeal: Biking creates urban public spaces Biketoberfest emphasizes benefits of streetscape

(by Ashley Mahoney, The Charlotte Post) "See Charlotte by bike instead of driving. Sustain Charlotte presents its second annual Biketoberfest Oct. 15 from 12-5 p.m. 'You talk to people about the need for great public space,' said Jordan Moore, bicycle program director for Sustain Charlotte. 'One of the things I always say to people is, imagine being in Paris, and you are walking around, you have been there all day, and you stop, and you pause, and you reflect. You take it all in. Well, where do you do that in Charlotte? Where are we building in moments into our public space where one can imagine stopping and reflecting? That is what good public space does.' Biketoberfest encourages people to see riding in an ecofriendly and health friendly way." Click here to read more.  

Check out the neighbors with Open Streets 3-mile linear park

(by Ashley Mahoney, The Charlotte Post) "Open Streets 704 returns to the Queen City on Oct. 23 from 1-5 p.m. to explore the theory. Road closures start at 12 p.m. and end at 6 p.m. for set up and tear down. 'If you come out, expect to see what the future of Charlotte could look like when we value larger linear parks,' said Jordan Moore, [Bicycle Program] Director of Sustain Charlotte. Said Scott Curry of the Charlotte Department of Transportation: 'A big part of this event is getting people to realize that we are a lot closer than we think we are.' By temporarily closing streets, the free event creates a linear park of over three miles.   'Why is a 3-mile linear park an important thing for our city to experience?' Moore asked. 'This type of event is a way to do vision casting on a broad scale with our neighbors.'" Click here to read more.

Pedal pushers: Biking as a transportation option; Biketoberfest showcases benefits of two-wheeling

(by Ashley Mahoney, The Charlotte Post) "Charlotte needs to broaden its transportation horizons. As the second annual Biketoberfest nears, the community event will encourage people see Charlotte without driving for transportation.   'It becomes easier as it becomes more of a habit,' said Jordan Moore, bicycle program director for Sustain Charlotte, organizer of the Oct. 15 event. As a corporate city, biking to work sounds sweaty, messy and less than professional for someone who has to spend his or her day in a suit or heels. 'The idea of changing the corporate climate is a tough nut to crack, because you kind of have to start at the top,' Moore said. 'You need businesses to put in facilities to make it possible for people to ride in wearing one thing, and then change into another. You need businesses to relax their dress codes and standards, which is something that Charlotte doesn’t like to talk about. We’re very buttoned up.' Read more here.

The City of Charlotte Is Asking For Resident’s Opinions About Uptown Bike Lanes and Greenway Connectors

(by Scott Jensen, Charlotte Stories) "Charlotte’s Department of Transportation recently launched a new study they’re calling “Uptown Connects,” to examine how they link up parks and greenways to make it as easy as possible for non-motorized commuting all around the center city region...One of the major goals of the study is to determine if the city should install dedicated bike lanes on one or more streets in Uptown... Local nonprofit group Sustain Charlotte are the main proponents pushing for the new isolated lanes that would connect multiple green-ways and offer and easy and safe path to ride through our city. 'There are protected bike lanes are being built all over the country, and we don’t have any yet in Charlotte, and we think it’s time that we have them too,' remarked Sustain Charlotte’s executive director Shannon Binns." Click here to read more.