Progress never comes fast enough.
That was evident at this morning’s Fourth Annual Triangle Bike and Pedestrian Workshop, where local transportation planners got together to talk about progress made in 2013 and share what’s on the drawing board for this year and beyond. Nothing like getting a look under the tree a year or more in advance.read more
I wrote the following for the Charlotte Observer, where it appeared Aug. 20, 2013. It appears here with links. A report on Raleigh’s ranking ran in this spot on Tuesday, Aug. 20.
According to the American College of Sports Medicine, Charlotte wheezes in at No. 36 in the recent fittest ranking of the nation’s 50 largest metro areas. (Raleigh trotted in far better at No. 15.)
The American Fitness Index, introduced in 2007, ranks cities in 30 categories ranging from acres of parkland and number of farmers markets, to number of smokers and people with heart disease, to the percentage of residents with health insurance.
On the newest ranking, released in May, Charlotte was cited as lacking in 19 of the 30 categories. Compared to the nation as a whole, it’s got an excessive number of smokers and obese residents, a higher number of residents with diabetes and heart disease and not enough primary health care providers.
It’s also lacking in playgrounds, dog parks, ball fields, rec centers, swimming pools and tennis courts, according to the index.
On the plus side, it has more farmers markets and acres of parkland per capita and fewer people who die from diabetes. The area evaluated was the Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill Metropolitan Statistical Area.
The findings didn’t surprise Hall Rubin, who moved to the area three years ago. Rubin previously lived in the Triangle, where he founded and headed a 400-member Meetup group that hiked, biked and paddled three or four times a week.
“There are opportunities in Charlotte,” says the semi-retired Rubin, “but you really have to look for them.”
For instance, he says, “There are a few long, linear greenways in Charlotte, but they aren’t connected. You have to put your bike on the car and drive to them.”
Ken Tippette, the manager of the Bicycle Program for Charlotte’s Department of Transportation says it’s no surprise Charlotte took a hit in the ranking for having a low percentage of residents who bike or walk to work. Years of planning have conspired against residents making short commutes by bike or foot.
But Tippette says efforts are underway to change the situation.
The city is planning the Cross-Charlotte Trail, a nonmotorized passage that would run 26 miles, from Pineville on the south side of town to UNC Charlotte.
The $35 million project is expected to take 10 years to complete. He adds that the city has come a long way in a decade: In 2003, Charlotte had 1 mile of marked bike lane; today it has 75 miles and another 44 miles of greenways.
And the city’s new B-Cycle program that lets people rent and ride bicycles parked in uptown Charlotte and other sites just turned a year old. Nearly 500 annual memberships exceeded the program’s expectations by 40 percent, and the more than 11,000 one-day riders surpassed expectations by a whopping 1,600 percent, program officials said. The bikes have made 32,000 trips in a year.
And, there’s the Carolina Thread Trail, an effort to build a trail network in 15 counties linking 2.3 million people.
Charlotte’s presence in the heart of tobacco country also weighed against the region. Nearly 19 percent of residents smoke, about 6 percent above the national average.read more
The forecast for this weekend could not be better. Early morning lows in the low to mid-40s, daytime highs in the mid-60s to 70. Sunny.
Perfect fall weather — but you never know how long it will last. Thus, you are obligated this weekend to take advantage. A reminder about some GetGoingNC.com resources to help you plan your fun.read more
Raleigh’s highly anticipated 3-mile House Creek Greenway is scheduled to open in March. Sunday, I took a little inspection tour. More about that in a sec. First, about that “highly anticipated” description.
In Raleigh’s rapidly expanding greenway network, 3 miles isn’t a lot. The system consists of close to 70 miles at this point, and this 3-mile stretch is dwarfed, sizewise, by another stretch also under construction: the 28-mile Neuse River Trail, which opened its first 6.5-mile stretch in October and expects to be completely done — from the Falls dam south to the Johnston County line — in 2013.read more
That’s the official word this morning from Raleigh Senior Greenway Planner Vic Lebsock. Officially, there’s only 20 feet left to finish, on a boardwalk a little over two miles south of the northern trailhead (off the old Falls of Neuse Road). A stretch under Capital Boulevard and greenway under the new Falls of Neuse Road — both of which were under construction a month ago — have been completed, Lebsock said. That means you could start from the southern trailhead, at the WRAL/CASL Soccer Complex off Perry Creek Road between Capital Boulevard and Louisburg Road, and travel unencumbered six miles upstream.read more