Can a city built for cars change lanes?

Posted on September 4, 2012 by marynewsom

Charlotte grew up with cars, but its future is threatened unless the city and the region can grow in a manner that makes transit, bicycling and walking more effective, said members of the “Toward a Sustainable Future” panel.

Speaking were Charlotte City Council member David Howard (@DavidHowardCLT), UNC Charlotte urban design professor David Walters, architect/planner Terry Shook of Shook Kelley Design, Ellison Clary of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, all of Charlotte, and Rob Perks of the Natural Resources Defense Council of Washington. Moderator (and panel organizer) was Shannon Binns of Sustain Charlotte.

I was live-Tweeting the event as @PPLDNC. Here’s the (slightly edited) Tweet-stream. A few translations: #cltcc means Charlotte City Council. #ThePPL is, natch, The PPL. Here’s my account:

- Next up #Cltcc member Dave Howard, planner Terry Shook, UNCC prof David Walters, and BCBS’s Ellison Clary.

- Also on the transport panel is Rob Perks, transportation advocacy director of @NRDC. Moderator: Shannon Binns of @SustnCharlotte.

- Waiting for “Toward a More Sustainable Future” at #ThePPL venue. @emcmike [Emcee Mike Watson] launching now …

- I’m sitting next to @REBIC. [Joe Padilla of the Real Estate and Building Industry Coalition, a developers' lobbying group]. Big audience, quite a few city staffers, UNCC students, MeckCo’s Heidi Pruess, among others.

- Shannon Binns: Green Cities Index looked at the 27 biggest US/Canada cities.  On transp, #CLT ranked 25. [I've put a link to the report here. Here's a link to download the PDF of Charlotte-specific info.] Because everyone drives.

- David Walters from UNCC says #Charlotte growth came from the car. “We don’t have a #transit system, we have a transit line.”

- David Walters says #Charlotte will have to retrofit, to have a #transit system.

- Architect Terry Shook: Got to mention BofA’s Hugh McColl. Wanted #Charlotte to be more than an office park.

- Ellison Clary of BCBS / NC: NC is 14th fattest state in US. It’s one reason they’re  sponsoring #Charlotte‘s Bike-Share program.

- I missed a Tweet re @DavidHowardCLT. He talks about the need for city to keep up capital investment programs.

- Rob Perks of @NRDC says projections for #CLT region show 47% increase (!!) in VMT 2007- 2030. Solution: Give people more travel choices.

- For the non-transportation policy geeks out there, VMT = Vehicle Miles Traveled. Measures how much people are driving.

- Perks: Charlotte is on the cusp of being a HUGE city. Now is the time to take advantage of what this community is going to be.

- Terry Shook: A lot of people are saying the battle for #urbanism is won. “I don’t buy that. The forces that cause sprawl are still there.”

- D.Walters: “Real choice [transportation] very hard to come by if you live in conventional suburbia.” Costs $$$ to run buses there.

- Also in #ThePPL audience: #CLTCC council member LaWana Mayfield.

- Says @DavidHowardCLT - A lot of people in CLT think we are wasting our money when we put in bike lanes.

- The challenge for us is money, says @DavidHowardCLT. Also, getting citizens to understand what we are trying to do.

- David Walters: Transit makes property more valuable. Housing costs rise. Need “firm public policy” to ensure housing affordable for all.

[I didn't Tweet this, but Walters noted that already, some people are saying light rail is only for the affluent.]

- Ellison Clary (BCBS/NC): CLT bike share 1 month old, already sold more than 200 annual memberships. [$65 a year. BCBS customers get discount.] Dilworth [neighborhood] now wants bike station. So does Plaza-Midwood.

- D.Walters: Expansion of Blue Line [light rail] to UNCC is great connection to talent pool AND will help revitalize some challenged parts of town.

- The Blue Line expansion will also help spark “Innovation Corridor” between uptown and UNCC, says @DavidHowardCLT.

[This Tweet from Jill Santuccio, ‏@PRISMJill]: @DavidHowardCLT ”I worry about where we’ll be in 20 years if we don’t figure (transportation) out.”

Panel on #transit winding down. [Ex -Mecklenburg County commissioner and DNC2012 Host Committee honcho] Dan Murrey in audience, too. Gets ovation for #DNC2012 work. Panelists will be in #ThePPL newsroom.

– Mary Newsom

I’ll be Tweeting more from the PPL’s presentations today. Follow me @ppldnc.

If you’re interested in urban issues, including transportation, growth, urban design, urbanism, etc. etc., check out the website I run for the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute: And follow my blog: The Naked City Blog.



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