Your voice is making a difference! Following more than a year of advocacy by residents of Belmont, Villa Heights, Plaza Midwood, and beyond, some BIG changes are proposed for Parkwood Avenue. But we share the residents’ concerns that not enough will be done to protect residents, cyclists, transit riders, and pedestrians along The Plaza.

At the January 9 meeting of City Council’s Transportation and Planning Committee, the Charlotte Department of Transportation (CDOT) shared their preliminary recommendations for Parkwood and The Plaza. Click here to view the presentation that the Transportation and Planning Committee saw.

A map of pedestrian and cyclist crashes with cars highlights the importance of acting quickly to make these streets safer for everyone who uses them. With the coming Cross Charlotte Trail and the CATS Blue Line Extension’s Parkwood and 25th Street stations opening this August, even more people will be traveling along Parkwood Ave and The Plaza on foot and bicycle.

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18 people have been hit by cars while walking or biking here in just five years. Two of them died.

The great news:

Following resident advocacy in fall of 2015, Charlotte City Council and CDOT acted quickly to begin a corridor study to take a technical look at the challenges and possible solutions in this area. CDOT conducted an extensive public engagement process including walking tours and workshops.

For Parkwood Ave, CDOT recommends a road diet with buffered bike lanes, new crossings and signals, and enhancing existing crossings. The project is estimated to cost approximately $2.5 million.

We’re so encouraged by the Transportation and Planning Committee’s desire to find a way to fund the road diet so it can be built quickly, rather than having to wait for the next bond package! The safety threats facing pedestrians and people on bikes are clearly too urgent to postpone the road diet.

What kind of bike lanes will we see on Parkwood Ave?

CDOT’s Dan Gallagher said that “buffered” could mean either painted buffered lanes (similar to those on Remount Road) or lanes with a physical barrier between cars and people on bikes. We agree with the Plaza Midwood Neighborhood Association that it’s “critical to separate the bike lanes with a physical barrier.” A physically protected bike lane will not only make the street much safer and more inviting for people of all ages and ability levels to ride bikes, but it will also provide more protection from cars for pedestrians on the sidewalks.

The not-so great news:

CDOT is not recommending a road diet for he portion of The Plaza between Parkwood and Matheson Ave. They cite the 32,000 vehicles per day on this stretch as too far above the typical threshold volume for road diets, and are concerned that reducing the number of lanes for cars could create significant congestion.

They’ve recommended a new crossing near Stratford Avenue and adjusting signals to better serve pedestrians at the Matheson crossing, an area where many car-on-pedestrian collisions have occurred.

The view of Sustain Charlotte and the neighborhoods surrounding The Plaza, is that quality of life and safety of the most vulnerable street users (people on bikes and on foot) should take higher priority than moving cars quickly. As Council prepares to adopt the city’s new Transportation Action Plan, one of the new principles it embodies is Vision Zero: The only acceptable number of lives lost on our streets is zero.

The Plaza Midwood Neighborhood Association expresses their reasons for wanting a road diet on The Plaza in their letter sent on January 22 (click here to download it).

View the full article from the Sustain Charlotte posted on February 2, 2017 by Meg Fencil here.