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Natural Awakenings Charlotte

Charlotte Area Livability Successes

May 31, 2018 04:14PM

Greenways, Walking, Biking and Transit Improve Walkability

by Shannon Binns

How is Charlotte preparing for the expected 400,000 additional residents which will live in the city by 2030? There are innovative ways that Charlotte is investing in smart growth to allow more people to reach their homes, workplaces and other daily destinations without having to drive. Smart growth supports the environment, economic mobility and social equity.

Livable communities are easily accessible by walking, biking and transit. Yet, even as Charlotte invests in these modes of transportation, the surrounding land uses are often still auto-oriented. Fortunately, Charlotte’s confusing (and often contradictory) land use and zoning ordinances are being rewritten to address this mismatch. The goal is to clearly envision how the city should grow, then to create a Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) to support it.

On March 16, the LYNX Blue Line light rail extension opened, connecting the University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s main campus to Uptown. The Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) is currently working on an update of the 2030 Transit Plan to add rail service to the north, west and southeast. CATS is also undertaking a massive redesign of its bus network. The Envision My Ride initiative will give riders the fast, frequent and reliable service that they need.

In 2017, Charlotte City Council voted to pass the city’s first-ever Charlotte WALKS Pedestrian Plan and a major update to the Charlotte BIKES Bicycle Plan. If the city consistently invests in implementing these ambitious plans, it’ll be on the fast track to becoming an easier and safer place to travel by bicycle or on foot.

As a rapidly growing city, Charlotte needs to prioritize better park access for all of its residents. Local parks and greenways won a huge victory in 2017 when the County Commission voted unanimously to fund completion of 13 projects that had been approved by voters in 2008, but had not yet been funded due to the economic downturn.

A community that grows smart becomes more livable for everyone!


Shannon Binns is the founder and executive director of Sustain Charlotte. For more information, visit


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