Monday, March 23, 2009

Politicians risking lives? Stay tuned

At 3 p.m. today a bunch of Charlotte City Council members and assorted others (including yours truly) will possibly risk their lives by walking on one of those cruddy back-of-curb sidewalks along Woodlawn Road, where traffic whizzes by at 50 mph, inches from your body. And then we'll be invited -- try not to gasp in horror -- to cross the street. Note: Woodlawn has no lights or crosswalks between Scaleybark and South Boulevard, almost a full mile. So if you need to get to the other side, you just dash.

The purpose: Show the politicians how pedestrian-UN-friendly some of today's existing development standards are.

Let us all hope no elected officials get squashed like bugs on the street. As we have seen in recent months, filling seats of elected officials (e.g., county sheriff, school board) can be messy and ugly. We would just as soon not be put through that again this year.

Why do the sidewalks tour? CDOT is working on a Pedestrian Plan which it hopes to put to council for a vote later this year. The plan (in its current draft) would recommend studying changes to ordinances in order to require back-of-curb sidewalks be improved if there's a substantial development on a site, and that infill/teardown development be required to install sidewalks. There's probably going to be opposition from the developers' lobby. This is a way to help present the other side of the issue to the council members.

Small note: Technically the sidewalks on Woodlawn are not all back-of-curb. There's a minuscule planting strip of perhaps 12 inches weedy grass-like foliage.

I'll be taking photos. If anyone is turned into a grease spot on the pavement, don't say you weren't warned.


Anonymous said...

For a city to be livable and sustainable you have to have a variety of transportation options. That means including bicycle and pedestrian connectivity. If it were safer to walk and bicycle around the city, maybe we wouldn't have one of the worst air pollution problems in the region.

cltindependent said...

I'm glad to see them doing this, but it's a stunt. They know how unfriendly it is for pedestrians. I was born and raised in N.Y. and walked to school until high school. There are very few neighborhoods in Charlotte where you can do this even if we had neighborhood schools. These politicians have been going behind closed doors for decades and letting developers run all over the citizens. My neighborhood has sidewalks, but it was built in 2002. Once you walk out of the neighborhood, sidewalks are sporadic again.

jcr said...

I recently moved from a slightly smaller city in Virginia where I walked many places, grocery store, park, etc... It was an enjoyable way to relax. Walking anywhere in Charlotte makes me tense and anxious! And that's even the places that have sidewalks. Also, it really seems to me that the poorer areas of Charlotte have very few sidewalks and crosswalks, and these are the places with the most pedestrians.

Jumper said...

A rainy day would have been better. Spray from the road would educate.

Anonymous said...

I would love specialized bike lanes for people to commute on 2 wheels. Especially into Rock Hill where I work. Something down the center median. But, alas, its a pipe dream.

Most people who want to commute by bike are too afraid of the traffic ( even just with a couple cars going by ). I've seen it; the panic, the swerving. I don't think with our current flows of traffic that bike commuting is ever going to be safe for eveyone until the bike lanes are further away from the flow of cars.
I used to bike 11 miles one way every morning in Cincinnati; heavy University traffic then all the way out Montgomery Rd. I was very comfortable in rush hour and I was very RESPECTFUL to the cars around me ( that is key to sharing the road ). Occasionally, I would have an idiot yell at me or swerve too close for comfort but it was far from the norm.
I've seen a few bike commuters out there in the morning. They look confident. But just because there's a bike path it doesn't mean its safe. The bike path on Archdale heading west? under the train overpass is a joke.
I will take a day off to show thw council how to really ride in traffic if they are brave enough.

I like Jumper's suggestion of picking a different day. Going through rain-filled potholes or feeling the draft of the cars rushing by is not the same as a weekend putzing on a flat trail buffered by trees.
( I can tell you that drafting behind a bus in 20 degree weather may not smell good but it kept me warm many a morning.)

If bikes were allowed on the sidewalks, I think more would use them to ride to work. Its safer as long as you let people you approach that you are behind them. A little bit of courtesy goes a long way.

Anonymous said...

In addition, cyclists need to hold their line. Something that the weekend cyclists on the booty loop and on Park Rd. seem to disregard. Not all of them but enough to wonder if they really think they own the road.

Mary, care to jock up and go for a ride?

Anonymous said...

Another thing we need to keep focused on is the expanding of the greenway system - an excellent way to connect neighborhoods for cyclists and pedestrians, and keep them away from the dangers of the highways!

Sidewalks, bicycle lanes, and greenways need to all connect and work together under the same plan.

Anonymous said...

More sidewalks and more greenway please. (Yes, I know Briar Creek runs adjacent to my neighborhood and I will benefit from that.) Mary, please also point out that the road surface on Woodlawn is embarrassingly rough. This is the main road from the airport to SouthPark and environs. All in all, not a very nice way for a newcomer to see our city.

Anonymous said...

Anhbody who wants this BS should put up the money if not shut up. I am tired of people telling me that I need to hand over my hard earned money for sidewalks and bike lanes.

Anonymous said...

There are no lives being risked. This is just more of the same liberal crap that makes me sick. I for one do not want my tax dollars paying for the .000001 percent that bike to work.
So sorry about the weeds spoiling your walk too. Since we can't use any pesticides (mother earth you know) what is one to do?
I will shed a tear for all those poor souls who have to walk down that death trap of a sidewalk.

Anonymous said...

Funny thing, anonymi:

I'm getting sick and tired of my tax money going to pay again and again for repairing the roads you tear up driving your tubby selves around. So before you complain about sidewalks, kindly promise not to demand an expensive FEMA rescue when the Colonial Pipeline breaks down and leaves you stranded 2 miles from your twinkie supplier, 2 miles you can't walk because you have more girth than height and because there's no sidewalk.

Anonymous said...

I believe this is referred to not as "covering" a story, but as becoming a part of the story and advocating for an outcome.

Journalism is sinking into a black hole.

Rick said...

If you don't have the nerve to ride without bike lanes - don't ride. No, actually, you shouldn't ride. You are just in the way, a danger to yourself and others.

I rode to the bus and work some last year when gas went up and plan to do it again this year. I ride to the store weekly and do appreciate bike lanes and greenways when they are available. However, they are never going to be universally available, so I choose not to whine about it. Pick where you can ride comfortably at your skill level. If you can't get where you are going safely, don't go.

Anonymous said...

So you can only walk on a sidewalk? What an IDIOT!

Anonymous said...

Uh, isn't it AGAINST THE LAW to cross the street except at a designated intersection?

I take the "assault by drink cup" on Foxx and Kinsey as karma.


Anonymous said...

You spent a year off at Harvard to expand your knowledge of journalism, and blog columns such as this are the result?

Apparently "who, what, when, where and why" have gone out of favor, to be replaced by making one's self the center of the story.

It is not just newspapers that are in decline. It is journalism as well.

Anonymous said...

Hey this is C@rl from the class you visited at berry high; i had on a white shirt with red,gray and black strips.I can see that many of your opinions people don't agree with them.I like your blog but its only a opinion.Some people even disagree with some of your topic but are anonymous.It's was great having you here at Berry.Hope you com back i will be commenting frequently.=P