Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Pols brave danger to walk down sidewalk

(CDOT staffers negotiate narrow, debris-filled sidewalk during Monday tour)

We all survived the walk down Woodlawn Road in mid-afternoon. We even managed to cross Woodlawn in safety after waiting several minutes for a gap in traffic. But ... there was an incident. More later.
Council members Anthony Foxx, Michael Barnes, Susan Burgess, Patsy Kinsey and Nancy Carter (all but Kinsey members of the Transportation Committee) went for a tour by the city's DOT staff to show some pedestrian issues. It's part of the Pedestrian Plan, which CDOT planners are drafting and hope to give to council for approval in the next few months.
A big issue is uncomfortable, uninviting back-of-curb sidewalks along major thoroughfares. So we all walked about a quarter mile up Woodlawn.
Here's a report on the "incident": Shortly after we start, near Preston Townhomes at Woodlawn and Scaleybark, a black Jeep Cherokee zips past (speed limit is 35 mph, but most drivers appear to be ignoring that) and someone inside chunks a drink cup out the window. It hits Foxx and splashes Kinsey. No harm done, though it was rattling.
Only Barnes, Kinsey and CDOT planner Dan Gallagher dashed across Woodlawn at Bayberry Drive in order to see the much nicer sidewalk built at the townhouse-style Oak Leaf development across the street. The rest of us had to wait to cross until a couple of school buses set a pick for us, essentially stopping the oncoming traffic so we could safely get to the other side.
The point CDOT was making was that developments such as Oak Leaf, which needed a rezoning, don't get that OK unless they fix the bad, back-of-curb sidewalks. Plus, many of the newer zoning categories require better sidewalks. But so-called "by-right" development -- in which the land already carries the zoning needed for the development -- doesn't have to do anything about sidewalks.
CDOT is offering for consideration the idea of changing local ordinances, so developments such as Preston Flats and Preston Townhomes would have to update bad sidewalks, the way Oak Leaf did. After all, as CDOT pedestrian advocate Vivian Coleman pointed out, Preston Flats had to do significant grading of the site, for the construction. Pouring a new sidewalk would not have been onerous. As it is, though, any sidewalk improvement would come out of city coffers.

Want more pedestrian info? See the CDOT page of links to pedestrian organizations, ordinances, etc.


Anonymous said...

Yawn. Spend millions on sidewalks for the 20 people who walk down Woodlawn a day.

How could this column and "That's Wassup!" possibly have survived 4 rounds of layoffs and cuts already?

Andy said...

Real smart...In a time of economic crisis lets make it more expensive for developers to invest in Charlotte and build in Charlotte. Let's burden them with more regulation. Heck, why don't we just tell them we don't want them in Charlotte at all.

God help us if Anthony Foxx gets elected Mayor.

Anonymous said...

I wish I could throw a drink at some of these "politicians" and get away with it! The Panthers should find whoever threw the drink and sign him up! Could we be any more wasteful in an econoimic crisis than to send these people out and make them walk down Woodlawn? Thank goodness no one was struck while crossing the road, then we would all get stuck paying their medical bills! How embarrassing for Charlotte. Why does this even deserve to be called "news"?

Anonymous said...

A city is only as strong as its transportation options, so it is great to see our city wanting to invest in our future as we approach the post-oil age.

Anonymous said...

You "survived" your mid-afternoon walk down Woodlawn. So? What were you afraid might happen? And you needed a "tour" conducted by the city's DOT staff...and this "tour" was a whole quarter-mile? How exhausting it must have been for you.

And "uncomfortable, uninviting back-of-curb sidewalks." What do you want...cushioned walkways, maybe? I don't see why you're griping about it.

Woodlawn is a major traffic artery. What it needs, other than repaving from Murrayhill to Park Road, is some sort of way to slow down the traffic, and some left turn lanes. As it is now, there is one traffic light between South Boulevard and Park Road. The 35-mph speed limit is roundly ignored by everyone to the point that it's a joke.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Anon who posted at 01:18 pm:

I couldn't agree more.

And regarding the incident: We can take the redneck out of the country, but then he's just going to be a speeding, littering, ignorant redneck in the city. It's enough to make me want to swear, too.

Anonymous said...

Were Republicans not invited to this? Or was a Dem thing? Are there no R's on the Transportation Committee?

dave said...

So they want to change By-Right to No-Rights? So the Goal is that Charlotte Owns all the property in town and we rent if from them Through our taxes, and if we want to do anything to that land, the renters will need permission from the city. We are close to that, we just need to get rid of that little word "right". Rezoning already is not about zoning its about dumpster location and building materials.

Anonymous said...

Because making development cheaper for developers has CLEARLY been the right recipe for success...
( sarcasm )

Even if a piece of s--t development falls in on itself within 5 years (which many have started to do - in particular the "affordable" version in MP, Dilworth and Uptown) at least you'll be able to WALK past it.

So short-sighted.

Anonymous said...

The developers have built their crap condos and shopping centers everywhere in this town for years without regard for our quality of life. Seriously, this is one of the worst pedestrian cities in the nation. It's about time they're forced to chip in a little for improvements, and if it means less development in the long run, because they don't want to pay the tab, so be it. Growth does not equal progress.

Anonymous said...

Charlotte is unfriendly and unsafe for cyclists and pedestrians. No wonder Charlotte always gets rated near the bottom for fitness and at the top for overweight cities in America.

beff57 said...

Anon @ 1:18.....leave this so called "hamlet" if you don't like it!!!! All charlotteans are NOT redneck and overweight. And while we are talking...your mouth must mean you are a yank. Go Home!!!! Bless your heart!

Anonymous said...

I think the idea is that by including stipulations to include wider, safer sidewalks adjacent to new development, they give the new residents more options than simply driving. If one of the residents of these new developments @ Woodlawn and Scaleybark wanted to walk or bike to Park Rd Shopping Center, as it stands right now, they'd be taking their lives into risk. The sidewalks are bad, drivers don't even come close to obeying the 35mph speed limit, and there are no safe places to cross the street (good luck trying to cross the intersection of Park and Woodlawn!).

Due to the horrific pavement conditions of the street itself, this stretch of road has GOT to be due for an overhaul. The safety of everyone (drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists) should be taken into consideration before construction begins.

There can be a balance between the rights of everyone using the streets of Charlotte. There are only so many chances to correct past mistakes and make this a more tolerable city for all modes of transportation.

Eric said...

All city streets need sidewalks period. Its a safety thing. Especially on a street with bus stops.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...


Bus stops ? Are you kidding ? They have been in the process of installing a simple cross walk on Arrowood Rd by two major business parks and two bus stops for over a year now. The project has been approved since last summer and still no dirt has been stirred. The Meck DOT and State DOT "mainly state" are a total joke.

Don't even get me started on the engineering madness that we have on our ramp systems in this city. It's like nowhere else in the country. Why ? Because it doesn't work. Get a clue.

Anonymous said...

anon @ 2:52 at least this hillbilly knows how to spell the contracted word for "you all." That would be "y'all."

Anonymous said...

Nice try Hillbilly but the redneck term has many spelling variations. Likely since it is simply Southern Redneck Lingo and nothing more. Being proud that you may have known the most used variation of the spelling just further highlights your true self.


Eric said...

2:55. Thats my point exactly. They should have been there to begin with! If you are going to have pedestrian traffic there needs to be sidewalks.

Years ago I used to take the bus out there to Arrowwood to the same business parks. It was a pain in the a$$ to get across the street. It was very dangerous.

If you build a house, A Complex, Or condos you should have to put in sidewalks. If the city can tell you how many trees to plant they can tell you to make a sidewalk to keep its citizens safe.

Anonymous said...

Apparently you chose to NOT read the wiki you cited in your defense. Just because it is often spelled incorrectly doesn't make it correct. Nowhere in the article does the author(s) spell it any other way than "y'all." Nothing worse than one who chooses not to learn.

Anonymous said...
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Eric said...

Will yous knock it off!!

Anonymous said...

Hey Eric,

They can't even tell you the correct trees you must plant. Do you know why Charlottean's have so much allergy problems ? Because the city and the city arborist never specified which type of trees needed to be planted by developers way back in the late 1980's population boom.So developers took the cheapest route possible and planted all male trees. Guess what ? All males and no females leads to tons and tons of pollen with nowhere to fertilize. Sort of like a really bad porn flick.

Come on developers! You really couldn't have spared the extra $5 per house so one of the two mandatory twigs you planted in the front yards of Burbia were female ?

Charlotte: no planning whatsoever.

Anonymous said...

Pedestrian safety is essential to all successful safe neighborhoods.

The first step to a bad neighborhood is when you are 'afraid' to go out on the street. Regardless of whether its because of crime or traffic. Crime grows where you don't feel safe.

***See Independence Boulevard.

Mary Newsom said...

Adding a couple of pertinent facts here:
All the council members on the Transportation Committee are Democrats. The (Republican) mayor appoints the committees.

Just for the record, Woodlawn Road is a state-maintained street. Its pavement needs are courtesy of your friendly N.C. DOT.

Anonymous said...

Ya'll, or Y'all. Who cares. It is actually spelled many different ways as Wikipedia explains it. Nowhere does it say the that the other ways are incorrect as a previous poster claims they are.

Anonymous said...

Here's a report on the "incident": Shortly after we start, near Preston Townhomes at Woodlawn and Scaleybark, a black Jeep Cherokee zips past (speed limit is 35 mph, but most drivers appear to be ignoring that) and someone inside chunks a drink cup out the window. It hits Foxx and splashes Kinsey. No harm done, though it was rattling.

Your point is ........... ?
This is Redneckville, expect nothing less and you wont be disappointed.

Hell, I have had everything from beer and soda cans to beer bottles thrown at me when I am bicycling. One person even unloaded all the trash in their car on me as they passed by - Old McDonalds bags and all.

It's a mindset. Sort of a Southern state of mind.
The only reason I have made it here for the past 20 years is because I can afford to live in a nice uptown hi-rise condo where I wouldn't be able to in Manhattan. Then there's always the better weather. Besides that, it's a crap hole infested with really mean spirited Southern hypocrites. Thankfully I can ride the elevator up to paradise and shut them all out.

Anonymous said...

To Anon @ 5:21

Bless their hearts...

Anonymous said...

Nice picture. It shows the exact type of crappy sidewalk you always refer to. Like I mentioned, too bad these modern urban voortrekkers didn't do it in the rain. That close to the street, it's a real treat to get sprayed by each car. Much less incidence of that on a set-back sidewalk.

27 Years MurrayHill Rd. Resident said...

This trip down Woodlawn is the tip of the iceberg. For several years now, the residents on MurrayHill Road (From MurrayHill to Lamont and Senecca) have fought having a sidewalk put down the street. And not just one like the one on Woodlawn, but one with with the new dimensions, 8 feet in, and then a 5 ft. wide sidewalk for handicapped access. The fight has been to no avail, and the neighborhood has lost. Lots of trees will be cut down, and worse, the property taken by the city for right of way to put the sidewalks in will literally put the sidewalk right outside some of the doors within inches. We havbe had neighborhood speakers, been before city council. It was a done deal before we even got started as far as i am concerned.
You can read more information about the side walks at the Madison Park HomeOwners web site http://www.neighborhoodlink.com/28210, but the end result is, the city had long made up its mind, regardless of usability or feasibility.
Send your protests to Vivian Coleman,
Pedestrian Program Manager,
Charlotte Department of Transportation
600 East Fourth Street
Charlotte, NC 28202
704-353-0481 (office)
704-336-4400 (fax)

We all agree it is a waste of money to do this on MurrayHill, where there are relatively few walkers to counteract the cost.
MurrayHill to Woodlawn seems to be a done deal too.

Anonymous said...

Good, glad to hear the city did the right thing regardless of what some worn out locals think.

Eric said...

I also live off Murray Hill rd. Have for years. I love Madison Park! I walk my dog daily. Cars do not follow the speed limit and all dog walkers, joggers, and bikers (who should be on sidewalks!) will be much safer. I know people will loose yard and some trees but if these rules were put in place when Charlotte was "Becoming" a city we wouldnt have this argument.

Safety first. Sidewalks, If only just for kids that have to walk to the bus stop.

Anonymous said...


One benefit of requiring developers to build back-of-curb sidewalks is that they usually get built within a year.

Compare that to the three-year minimum wait for the city to retrofit an existing neighborhood.

By the way, have you ever asked anyone on the Transportation Committee why it takes three years to build a sidealk in Charlotte? I could have made a weekly trip to Home Depot for a bag of Sakrete and some two-by-fours, and would have finished three blocks of sidewalk in my older neighborhood in less time, all by myself.

Anonymous said...

The city talks a good game about sidewalks and connectivity and always caves into developer demands to ignore pedestrian friendly requirements.

They are all pathetic wimps.
Thank goodness I live in Dilworth which was built walkable.

Anonymous said...

I encourage ANY naysayers to take a walk along these thorougfares with back of curb sidewalk. There are people that have NO choice, but to walk along these routes. And whether with NO choice or BY choice to get from your house to the local neighborhood shopping center, the residents of this town deserve a safe place to walk. Naysayers, get out of your cars and walk. You might burn a couple calories too.

And as for streets like Murrayhil, should we not be thinking about the kids who I have seen walking to school getting passed by speeding cars?

No yawning with this article in my opinion. Economic crisis or not, pedestrians deserve better places to walk in this town and it is not in the street or near fast moving, high volume traffic.

Anonymous said...

As for Murrayhill...Not everyone is against this. There are many residents that have waited a long time to have a sidewalk here. And get the accurate facts on the sidewalk location before you make assumptions.

Anonymous said...

"The more corrupt the state, the more it legislates" Tacitus

Anonymous said...

I want to go for a walk, but there is no sidewalk so I guess I'll write in this blog.

Anonymous said...

Tyvola has the same type of sidewalks. They are awful. Not only does traffic zip by without a planting strip as a buffer, but many parts of the sidewalks between Madison Park/Montclaire and Park Road are completely overgrown. I'd love to be able to walk the big loop of Tyvola to Park to Archdale for exercise, but the sidewalks don't seem safe enough to me.

I feel for the people that have no choice but to use them.

Anonymous said...

The folks along the west side of Park Road between Park and Poindexter would gladly contribute the sidewalk being planned for their side of the street. No one in this stretch of road wants their yards graded, trees and shrubs removed and sidewalks laid within a few feet of their front doors. Rather than "encouraging" the traffic in this stretch to obey the speed limit and providing a safe way to cross the street where there is an ample and safe sidewalk, they are tearing up all these folks property. If ped's would cross at the lights (rather than trying to jaywalk), we'd save hundreds of thousands of dollars and make everyone happy. Enjoy those magnificent oaks while you can on your next drive down Park Road -- they're about to be cut down.

Steve said...

I've tried walking and crossing the street in that area. I decided not to try it again.

As for Southern pronouns, an apostrophe generally indicates letters left out. The are no letters left out between the 'a' and the first 'l' of "you all," but the 'o' and 'u' are missing, so the logical spelling of "y'all" puts the apostrophe where the letters are omitted, and not at some random spot.

The spellings of the Southern possessive pronouns are trickier because they are irregular:

mayan, urine, hisn, hern
iron, urine, theirn

In the plural, one might also use the emphatic forms "all urine" and "them folkses'."

When the Lynx line opened, I rode to the southern terminus across from Carolina Pavilion. Partly I was just out for a ride, but additionally I was checking out what there is to do within a comfortable walk from the train stops. At that time it didn't look convenient to walk to any of the Carolina Pavilion shops from the train, and it didn't appear that there was any connecting bus service that would help. Maybe it's better now.

Kevin said...

I like what you are getting at here. It's not enough to build sidewalks. Pedestrian areas must be designed to create a safe comfortable feeling. The reason many sidewalks are not used is because if poor design. The tree ordinance in another blog must go hand in hand with sidewalk construction. I really like the fact that some council members are actually going out to experience what its really like to walk in certain areas. Seeing things in a plan does not give the same effect as experiencing it. A street is never complete until it accommodates all forms of transportation. Plan for people first, not cars!!

George said...

It is interesting to read through this article and the comments and observe the anonymous posters who speak with such authority on matters that they really know nothing about. For those who are making arguments for sidewalks along Murrayhill, there are several issues. Many people do not mind sacrificing 4-5 feet of their front yard for the greater good of the sidewalk. The speed limit here is 25mph, and believe it or not, it's not exactly easy to go much faster because of the huge (enormous) speed humps that have been installed. There is no need for a neighborhood street like this to have a 4-foot / 5-foot / 8-foot planting strip. Even mentioning Murrayhill in the same breath as Woodlawn, Park and Tyvola is ignorant when speaking about pedestrian safety.

Jessica Eiden Smedley said...

The comments are more interesting than the post.

However, sidewalks are a must in a city this size. I've spoken with my City Councilman (Andy Dulin) and he directed me towards a sidewalk/pedestrian project...I was told it takes about three years (!) to have a sidewalk put in a residential neighborhood.

Charlotte is appalling lagging behind other cities in regards to mass transit and general public works. Money must be spent in these areas to create a functional city that it can proudly be used as an example when other regions are considering their own city planning.