Transportation

Should Charlotte make one of its major streets pedestrian-only?

A pedestrian-only plaza in Chester City, UK. Photo by Rachel Bradshaw on Unsplash Charlotte has a reputation as a car city, but many of its leaders badly want to promote more biking, walking and transit use. That’s one reason an intriguing idea kept surfacing at this week’s City Council Transportation & Planning Committee meeting: Why not take all the cars off a major street in uptown or South End, creating a pedestrian-only space?

2020: Four plans coming together next year will guide growth for a generation

Participants left sticky notes with their desires for Charlotte's center city neighborhoods at a recent event. Responses included a transit hub, more affordable housing and more parks. Photo: Ely Portillo Next year’s news cycle is already looking pretty crowded, between big-ticket events like the Republican National Convention in Charlotte, the summer Olympics in Tokyo and, of course, the 2020 presidential, gubernatorial and congressional elections.  But if there weren’t so much else going on, 2020 might be known as something else in Charlotte: The Year of the Plan.

(Almost) everything you ever wanted to know about TOD but were afraid to ask

Light rail and TOD development make their mark in University City. From this intersection to Uptown by rail takes about 20 minutes. Photo by Nancy Pierce. Since City Council approved TOD Article 15 - the new Transit-Oriented Development ordinance - last April, land use consultants, architects, real estate attorneys and other insiders have had ample opportunity to sort out these new rules. As for laypersons, gleaning what they need to know from TOD’s eighty-one page assemblage of definitions, rules, standards, charts and graphics can be a real challenge, despite efforts by staff planners to make the document as jargon-free and user-friendly as possible. 

Why isn’t Charlotte built on the water?

The I-77 bridge (foreground) over the Catawba River, south of Charlotte. Photo: Nancy Pierce After visiting a city with a waterfront, maybe stopping for a drink and a bite to eat along whichever river or ocean it’s built along, I’m usually left with one overriding thought: “Wow, Charlotte could really use some of this.” Water plays a prominent role in the design and history of most cities, whether it be a river, bay or ocean. And Charlotte’s skyline and downtown sit tantalizingly close-but-yet-so-far from a major river and lake system. So, the question looms: Why isn’t Charlotte built on the water?  It’s a straightforward question I realized I had never actually asked, despite a decade living in Charlotte. So I called up an expert. 

Want to know why developers are embracing walkable urbanism? Follow the money.

A Charlotte City Walk in the Belmont Neighborhood. Three structure demonstrate the changes in Belmont: From left: new affordable housing apartments, historic neighborhood music venue now a private residence, a new large house. These are on Harrill Street. Photo: Nancy Pierce. Charlotte’s suburbs are starting to look more like urban areas, and a new study is pointing to the value to be gained from promoting walkable, transit-connected, urban-style growth. Real estate experts have said they’re responding to market pressure: Businesses, workers and residents want to get from home to work to dinner without spending big chunks of their day in a car, and suburban-style developments that cater exclusively to drivers no longer cut it. 

How should Charlotte grow? Decades-old study points to some lessons worth remembering.

The cover of a 1955 report that raised some of the same questions about Charlotte's growth we're still asking today. The year was 1955, but the city’s problems would look pretty familiar to its modern residents. Charlotte was confronted with growing traffic, inadequate transportation options, a lack of park space and the fear that growth was running away without a real, comprehensive plan.

From Ballantyne to SouthPark to University City, the suburbs want to be more like the city

"Ballantyne Reimagined" seeks to redevelop an office park into a mixed-use hub of activity. It’s happening across Charlotte: Apartments, office buildings and restaurants are popping up in parking lots, as dense, mixed-use developments, connected by bicycle paths and walking trails, invade suburbia. What’s driving the shift at some of the city’s most iconic suburban centers?

Regional transit gets another ‘symbolic’ boost near Charlotte

Photo by Nancy Pierce Three counties outside Mecklenburg have now expressed formal - though nonbinding - support for bringing a regional rail system of some kind across the border. That would be a first for Charlotte, where rail-based mass transit has so far been confined to within the city limits.

Is this road design a better way to move, or an outdated solution for traffic?

A pedestrian at John Kirk Drive and University City Drive, or NC 49, near UNC Charlotte. As Charlotte grows denser and more urban, parts of the city built decades ago on an auto-centric, suburban framework are struggling to both absorb more traffic and adapt to new beliefs about how people should get around. A one-mile stretch of congested road in fast-growing University City illustrates the tensions between balancing the needs of cars and pedestrians, as well as local residents and commuters, in an area where the distinction between urban and suburban is starting to blur.