Urban Exploration in the Queen City: Charlotte's Increasingly Awesome Trail Network

(by Rob Glover, RootsRated) "Whether you call it urban hiking or being a tourist in your own city, Charlotte is making it easier to ditch the car and explore the Queen City by foot. New miles of greenway and urban trail are being built every year, offering increasingly more opportunities to explore neighborhoods, walk to restaurants and bars, and make work commutes a whole lot healthier. As founder and executive director of Sustain Charlotte, a nonprofit dedicated to creating sustainable communities throughout the city, no one is more in step with the benefits of an urban hike than Shannon Binns. "Walking rather than driving improves your physical and mental health, saves you money, reduces air pollution, and allows you to connect with your community," Binns noted. Among its many projects, Sustain Charlotte has launched #walkCLT, a program designed to encourage local neighborhood exploration on foot, and Way2Go CLT, an interactive app that "gamifies" walking and biking over automobile transit. The organization’s goal for 2017 is to reduce the number of driving miles in Charlotte by one million. Whether you’re a first-time visitor to Charlotte or a lifelong resident, there are many ways to explore the Queen City by foot or on two wheels. To get started, Binns has provided intel on several greenways and urban trails that link some of Charlotte’s most interesting neighborhoods, parks, restaurants, and breweries." Read more here.   

Whole Foods Market opens in Waverly

(by Grant Baldwin, The Charlotte Weekly)  "Whole Foods Market marked the official opening of its Waverly location this morning with a bread-breaking ceremony. Employees of Whole Foods Market and patrons present for the event broke large loaves of bread and shared them to commemorate the occasion. Whole Foods Market also presented a check for $7,180 to Sustain Charlotte. The money was raised via ticket sales for the BBQ, Bluegrass and Blues event the store hosted this past weekend. After the ceremony, patrons were let in the store to explore and shop for the first time." Read more here. 

Whole Foods celebrating Waverly opening with bluegrass, barbecue in support of Sustain Charlotte

(by CarolinaWeekly) "Whole Foods Market Waverly is celebrating the opening of the location with a barbecue and bluegrass music fundraiser in front of the store from 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday, May 20. Proceeds will be donated to Sustain Charlotte, which works to ensure fresh and nutritious food is available in all neighborhoods. Visit www.eventbrite.com/e/bluegrass-bbq-festival-tickets-34236084049 for tickets. 'Whole Foods’ commitment to providing healthy food and giving back to the local communities where they operate makes them an ideal partner for us,' said Shannon Binns, executive director of Sustain Charlotte. 'We’re thrilled they are opening a store in a development that prioritizes walkability as well.'" Read more here.   

Charlotte’s light rail was supposed to change our attitude about cars. It hasn’t.

(by Ely Portillo at The Charlotte Observer) "Along the Blue Line, new apartments are springing up with bicycle repair stations, walking paths to light rail stations, direct connections to the Rail Trail path – and hundreds of parking spaces for cars. Most of the apartments along the Blue Line light rail and its extension north to UNC Charlotte have roughly the same ratio of parking as apartments in Charlotte’s car-dependent suburbs – about one parking space per bedroom. 'Those are the best opportunities we have right now to build less parking,' Shannon Binns, head of Sustain Charlotte, said of the sites developers have been buying up for top dollar next to the light rail. The $1.2 billion Blue Line extension from uptown to UNC Charlotte is set to open by March of next year. 'When we don’t maximize the land use around the transit investments, we really are undermining those investments. We’re allowing a lot of that land to be spent storing cars,' said Binns.” Read more here.   

In Charlotte, the Bechtler museum and Gantt Center are turning art viewing inside-out

(by Michaela Duckett at Qcitymetro)  "The Knight Foundation also has provided funding to support related programming in participating communities. Locally, the Bechtler museum and the Gantt Center are working with community partners to offer events and activities such as trolley tours, outdoor workshops for adults and youth, artist talks, musical performances and more. In addition, participating communities are being encouraged to create their own opportunities to motivate the public to get outdoors and engaged in talking about art. The first event is scheduled for Saturday, May 6, when Sustain Charlotte hosts a family-friendly cycling tour of new art installations in West Charlotte. The tour, guided by museum docents, will begin at 10 a.m. at Seversville Park and focus on the significance of the equity-inspired art pieces on display." Read more here. 

Whole Foods sets opening date for new south Charlotte store

(by Katherine Peralta at The Charlotte Observer)  "Whole Foods is opening its third store in the Charlotte area May 23 in the new Waverly development. On opening day, the new store at 7221 Waverly Walk Ave. will offer shoppers perks like discounts and product demonstrations and samples, the grocer said in a statement Thursday. Also to celebrate the opening, the Whole Foods is hosting a dog-friendly “Bluegrass and BBQ” music and food event in front of the store on May 20 from 4 p.m.- 7 p.m. All proceeds will benefit Sustain Charlotte, the grocer said." Read more here.  

2017 Sustain Charlotte Awards Held

(by Spectrum News Staff) "CHARLOTTE -- Organizations who work to address the Charlotte region's environmental and economic challenges are being honored. Sustain Charlotte recognized eight groups at their awards ceremony last night. The goal is to advance the Charlotte 2030 sustainable vision plan which was launched in 2010." Click here to view the full video coverage.

Charlotte’s looking at giving bicycles their own, protected lanes on these streets uptown

(Ely Portillo, The Charlotte Observer) The city of Charlotte is considering adding protected bicycle lanes – in which the bicycles are protected from cars by a physical barrier – through uptown. City Council’s transportation committee heard a presentation from city staff about the plan at their meeting Monday. The protected bicycle lanes would run east-west across uptown, linking existing greenways on opposite ends of the city’s center, and would be the city’s first such lanes. One would run along Fifth and Sixth streets, while one would run parallel to Stonewall Street from Bank of America Stadium to Pearl Street Park. Sustain Charlotte has been promoting the idea of protected bicycle lanes, which are safer for bicyclists, in the hopes of encouraging more people to get around by bike. One of the main reasons people give for not biking as much as they say they want to is a lack of feeling safe on the city’s busy streets. Click here to read the full article.   

Charlotte Today Segment: Ways to drive less

(WCNC's Charlotte Today) Meg Fencil with Sustain Charlotte talks about how to get around Charlotte on WCNC's Charlotte Today! Click on the image below to watch:  

Can changes drive ridership for Charlotte transit?

(by Erik Spanberg, Charlotte Business Journal) Bus ridership in Charlotte declined by 13.3% during the five-year period spanning fiscal 2012 through fiscal 2016. And, through the first seven months of fiscal 2017, the number of local bus riders dipped by 6.7% compared with the same period a year earlier...The main reason, or reasons, for the decline will be learned as part of the “Envision My Ride” campaign, which includes extensive transit rider surveys. To date, 1,000 surveys have been collected, with much more back and forth between CATS and its customers to come. By summer, CATS hopes to finish the framework of a revamped bus network. Even hard-core transit backers acknowledge the need to make buses more reliable. Shannon Binns, executive director of advocacy group Sustain Charlotte, referred to Federal Transit Administration data showing local combined ridership fell by 8% in calendar year 2016 despite an influx of young professionals and apartments. “Fewer residents are riding transit now than in the depths of the Great Recession,” Binns said. “It’s no wonder — long commutes and multiple transfers are the norm. Buses carry 80% of transit riders, but on many routes, they come infrequently and lack connections to other transit modes.” Click here to read the full article.