April 25, 2018
in Bike Pedestrian
In January 2017, Charlotte City Council passed the Charlotte WALKS Pedestrian plan, the city’s first safer walking and biking plan. The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association (AHA/ASA) supported the Council’s passage of this plan through various activities, including public comments from local board members and oral testimony in support of the plan. The Charlotte WALKs plan includes multiple components to serve the needs of all segments of the population and accommodate all travel modes. It aims to increase bikeway facilities and sidewalks and crosswalks to make active transportation safer and easier. This plan represents the community’s intent to select, design, and build transportation projects that provide safe and attractive transportation options for all users and build a healthy community.
Charlotte WALKS, however, failed to include language that would ensure developers were required to construct sidewalks during the building process. These loopholes allowed developers to avoid building sidewalks around their sites with phased construction, as well as demolish and rebuild a site without making improvements to the sidewalks with planting strips that comply with Charlotte’s current standards.
City transportation staff brought this to the attention of the City Council and local advocates in November 2017. Despite advocate testimony and activations, the Council postponed final action pending more community input. The AHA/ASA, in partnership with Sustain Charlotte, the local transportation coalition, activated volunteers by sending out action alerts and social media. The AHA/ASA alerted Charlotte board members and key You’re the Cure leaders when the Council calendared the issue for a vote. On April 23, 2018, AHA/ASA volunteers attended the City Council meeting for the vote. The Council voted in favor to amend the sidewalk ordinance and close the two important loopholes that were barriers to implementing the Charlotte WALKS plan.