On Monday, Charlotte City Council held a public hearing for the newly released Strategic Mobility Plan. This plan is a crucial step in implementing the vision of Charlotte’s 2040 Plan to offer everyone in our city safe and equitable mobility choices.
Sustain Charlotte’s Elina Shepard joined others in advocating for the adoption of the plan. Below are remarks she made to the Council, mayor and city staff — along with comments from other supporters of the plan who spoke up at the meeting.
“Good evening City Council, mayor, and staff,
My name is Elina Shepard. I am the program manager at Sustain Charlotte. Our nonprofit organization advocates for sustainable land use and transportation choices.
We have been active participants in the development of the 2040 Comprehensive Plan and the Strategic Mobility Plan. Adopting the Strategic Mobility Plan is critical to achieving the fifth goal of the 2040 Comprehensive Plan: safe and equitable mobility.
On behalf of Sustain Charlotte, I would like to voice our strong support for the Strategic Mobility Plan. We enthusiastically support the goal to reduce the percentage of commuters traveling to work alone from 76% to 50% by 2040. We have advocated for this goal since early 2020 and are committed to doing all we can to help the City achieve it.
This goal and the actions outlined in the plan are essential to achieving other adopted city goals, including becoming a low-carbon city, eliminating traffic fatalities and serious injuries, providing transportation equity, and maintaining our economic competitiveness.
In addition, with 385,000 more people projected to move here by 2040, we must deliver meaningful transportation options to move around our city, or we will be faced with crushing gridlock.
With the increased budget investments this year – and hopefully years to come – to build more sidewalks, bike lanes, and safer streets, the City is taking meaningful steps in the right direction. At the same time, additional, more significant dedicated funding sources could achieve the goals in this plan much more quickly than incremental funding and piecemeal development.
We urge you to recognize the Strategic Mobility Plan’s importance for our city's future and adopt it at the end of this month. We know from the city’s own surveys the vast majority of residents want the future this plan envisions, and we stand ready to assist in realizing this bold vision.
Thank you for your service and time tonight!”
Public comments about Charlotte's Strategic Mobility Plan
Here’s a quick look at what a few other speakers said Monday.
Martin Zimmerman, former director of the Charlotte Area Bicycle Alliance, said the plan deserved support because of its goal of reducing the number of people driving to work alone to 50% by 2040. “Although this metric is not as vigorous as I and other climate advocates wish it to be, it nevertheless represents a bold departure from the status quo,” Zimmerman said.
Maureen Gilewski of CharlotteEAST, meanwhile, called the plan a step in the right direction.
“We value the need for connectivity to places where we need to go and want to go and support the responsible changes that we must take to reduce the number of single-occupancy car trips by walking, biking and public transit to 50% by 2040,” Gilewski said. “Ongoing aggressive funding coupled with strategic decision-making and policy intent will be needed to meet the Strategic Mobility Plan and the goal of safe and equitable mobility.”
And Frank Devine stressed the need for more protected bike lanes and infrastructure that makes cyclists and other non-car commuters feel safer.
“I do think it’s an important way to build out the city we want,” Devine said. “If you design a city for cars, that’s what you get. If you design a city for people, that’s what you get.”
You can watch and listen to all the public comments here.
Council will vote on whether to adopt the Strategic Mobility Plan on June 27. We’d love your help seeing this through to the finish line. Here’s an easy way to contact your representatives and let them know you support the Strategic Mobility Plan!
Gold Line update
The Strategic Mobility Plan wasn’t the only transit-related item on the agenda for Monday’s City Council meeting. Council also voted 8-3 to conduct a $4.3 million engineering study on the third — and final — phase of the CityLYNX Gold Line streetcar.
That's good news! We've long advocated for the Gold Line as a vital transit component connecting east and west Charlotte. We're pleased to see City Council commit to funding for the study. In 2013, we released a report detailing the likely economic, social, and environmental benefits of the Gold Line.
Right now, the streetcar runs roughly 4 miles from Sunnyside Avenue to French Street. The third phase could extend the Gold Line to around 10 miles total, stretching from the Eastland Community Transit Center to the Rosa Parks CTC.
You can read more about the City's plans for the Gold Line here.
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