Thursday, October 6, 2011

Charlotte pedestrians - still waiting for that plan

Wilson has one. Durham has one. Charlotte doesn’t. Yet.

Those other N.C. cities have eclipsed the state’s largest metro in this way, at least: They’ve adopted pedestrian p.lans, both in 2006, to shape the way their communities plan for people on foot as well as planning for cars.  Charlotte’s proposed pedestrian plan has lagged for years, awaiting the city’s adoption of its Urban Street Design Guidelines which took more than eight years to adopt as policy and then to codify in city ordinances and then the re-adoption of its updated Transportation Action Plan.
To some extent that’s a reflection of the Charlotte Department of Transportation leaders' deciding to focus on the USDG – which faced strong opposition from a few influential developers of suburban-style projects – and to back-burner the ped plan.

Charlotte’s pedestrian advocate, Malisa Mccreedy, was one of the presenters Thursday afternoon at the state conference of the N.C. Chapter of the American Planning Association, taking place Wednesday-Friday in Charlotte. Mccreedy says the new goal is to get a Pedestrian Plan adopted by the end of 2012. And it's worth noting that even without a pedestrian plan, the city of Charlotte has pushed ahead with stronger programs to try to ensure that pedestrians' needs are considered along with those of motorists.

Planners from Durham and Wilson both described working with the UNC Highway Safety Research Center to analyze pedestrian-auto collisions. After the analysis, both cities made a top priority of reducing child pedestrian accidents. Durham’s Dale McKeel said his city has the highest rate of child pedestrian accidents per capita in the state.

Both also made the No. 2 priority to raise drivers’ awareness of pedestrians and drivers’ compliance with traffic laws.  In other words, both education and enforcement of the laws are significant.

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