On Monday night (11/15), we asked City Council to support the 5-year pedestrian plan, Charlotte WALKS, and close two loopholes to the city code that currently allow developers to forgo the building of safe sidewalks during site construction.
Read Charlotte WALKS here and read the comments made by Sustain Charlotte’s Bicycle Program Manager Kate Cavazza here below!
Comments made on November 13, 2017 by Kate Cavazza, Sustain Charlotte Bicycle Program Manager
Public Comments on Charlotte WALKS: Sidewalk Construction Ordinance Revisions
Good evening members of City Council and Mayor Roberts,
My name is Kate Cavazza and I am the Bicycle Program Manager at Sustain Charlotte. Sustain Charlotte is a land use and transportation advocacy organization. Our mission is to inspire choices that lead to a healthy, equitable, and vibrant community for generations to come.
I am speaking tonight in support of the two proposed amendments to the city code as identified by the Charlotte Walks five-year pedestrian plan. These two amendments would close loopholes that allow developers to forgo the construction of safe sidewalks with new or phased development.
Specifically, Charlotte WALKS address Chapter 19 of the City Code that currently allows development to be built in phases without any sidewalks. It also defines the standards of construction and allows developers to build substandard back of the curb sidewalks without planting strips after they rebuild a site.
According to the Vision Zero Street Design Standard, sidewalks are an integral element to eliminate all traffic deaths and serious injuries. This policy, adopted by City Council in May of this year, recommends sidewalks to offer no less than 8 feet of unobstructed width in order to encourage walking and reduce speeding.
Charlotte WALKS further explains that pedestrians are the most vulnerable users of our roadways. Charlotte is committed to providing a safe pedestrian environment. It's the foundation of any walkable place. Walkable neighborhoods also have economic, environmental and health benefits.
Numerous studies from the Urban Land Institute show that sidewalks increase of property values as safe pedestrian networks connect people to businesses and jobs in Charlotte.
Right now, the average transportation costs in Charlotte is $12,000. Making our City more walkable can help reduce this cost. By allowing developers to skirt their responsibility through phased construction and giving them the option to build substandard dangerous sidewalks, we are denying Charlotteans the social and economic benefits of a walkable city.
We have to ask ourselves, what kind of City do we want to be?
Will we continue to prioritize cars or work to protect to the most vulnerable users of our roadways by giving our citizens safe sidewalks so they can walk to work, school, and businesses without having to dodge traffic around new development?
Sustain Charlotte urges City Council to adopt these amendments to the City Code and support our five-year pedestrian plan, Charlotte Walks.
Thank you for your time.
We were also joined by the American Heart Association of Charlotte and college students from Queens University. Several are cross country runners. When they run, they said, the sidewalks in the Myers Park area and around Queens University are wide and safe. Three miles away, however, is a different story.
It's great to have students participate in City government, especially on such an important topic! Want to know more? Learn more about walkable communities at the sites below:
Urban Land Institute