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NC Group Wants Bicycles in the Driver's Seat

Sustain Charlotte is calling on city leaders to invest in an east-west bike path in uptown Charlotte. (46birds/morguefile)
Sustain Charlotte is calling on city leaders to invest in an east-west bike path in uptown Charlotte. (46birds/morguefile)
March 3, 2016

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - For decades, much of the state's transportation solutions have come down to building roadways to accommodate more vehicles, but a group advocating for increased sustainability is asking policy makers to pave the way for transportation of the two-wheeled variety.

Tonight, Sustain Charlotte will announce its campaign for the construction of a protected bike lane running through uptown Charlotte and connecting Little Sugar Creek and Irwin Creek Greenways, says Shannon Binns, the group's executive director.

"We're really trying to bring that infrastructure to Charlotte," explains Binns. "We think if we can start with a world-class bike lane in uptown Charlotte, that will show people just how much safer that makes it to bicycle. That will have a ripple effect that hopefully will lead to a world class network throughout the city."

Twenty-six states have at least one metropolitan city with a protected bike lane, including Atlanta, which recently completed much of its beltline that connects city neighborhoods for bike or pedestrian use.

Tonight, Sustain Charlotte presents its campaign for the bike path at Sugar Creek Brewing, along with recommendations from a report from the TransitCenter in New York, which included Charlotte in a recent study.

The TransitCenter report recommends that cities, including Charlotte, work to reinforce public support, work with leaders willing to take on transportation reform, and encourage civic organizations like Sustain Charlotte to get involved.

Binns and others say they want to change the way people think about getting from 'point A' to 'point B.'

"Charlotte has really developed over the last 50, 60, 70 years around the notion that everyone should have the ability to drive their own car," he says. "And now, we have to put the genie back in the bottle and retrofit our communities and our streets for all types of mobility."

Bike paths have been constructed in the state's northern Outer Banks region, and a survey from the state's Department of Transportation found nearly two-thirds of those surveyed felt safer riding in designated areas. Still more felt additional protected pathways should be built.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - NC