Transit Time: Reader mailbag 📫 + council member talks transit in Raleigh
You’re reading Transit Time, a weekly newsletter for Charlotte people who leave the house. Cars, buses, light rail, bikes, scooters … if you use it to get around the city, we write about it. Transit Time is produced in partnership among The Charlotte Ledger, WFAE and the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute.
Your turn: Transit Time readers weigh in on traffic deaths, street design, red light cameras and that streetcar race
It’s time to open the Transit Time virtual mailbag, with emails on articles from the past couple months. To share your thoughts, you can always reply to this newsletter, and we could feature your comments in the future.
In response to “Should Charlotte bring back traffic cameras?” (Oct. 21)
“Adding speed and red light camera enforcement will result in a positive culture change, which will result in saved lives. Red light running is so prevalent in SouthPark that we have educated our beginning drivers to hesitate 2-3 seconds when a light turns green to be sure a red light runner is not coming through the intersection. Put this subject up for vote next November, and let the community decide and not the politicians who have self-interests.”
“Just not enough information in the article. How many fatalities are caused by drivers without a valid license? How many were due to DUI? How many fatalities were due to poor maintenance? And no mention of the increase in rear-end collisions and the associated cost. .. Too many drivers operate a vehicle without a license or insurance. The cameras have little effect on fatalities if other laws are not enforced.”
“I find traffic cameras a mixed bag. I would much rather see increased local law enforcement of traffic laws on our interstates, specifically targeting drivers who drive like they are in a real life version of ‘Grand Theft Auto’ with excessive speed and unsafe lane changes. I occasionally see state, Matthews and Pineville officers on I-485, but never CMPD.”
“To city and county leaders, for the growing group of families who have lost a loved one or been maimed by vehicle injury, it’s time to reconsider how this technology can lower the community impact and allow the police to continue to improve community policing. No one likes big brother cameras, yet just like internet policing, we all recognize the value in encouraging safe behavior.”
“I wasn't fond of the idea when they had them in the past, but given that aggressive driving has gotten worse and enforcement is way down, it may be the best of a menu of bad ideas. It may take a tragic accident with a bunch of people being killed by a moron running a red light to move the needle, unfortunately.”
“I totally support the utilization of cameras for red light violations and speeding, as our Charlotte roads have become worse than The Wild Wild West. Throw drones into the mix as well, since this technology has advanced significantly in the past 5-10 years, and their use is more efficient than patrol cars. … We need more police checkpoints, especially if human resources are freed up through the use of cameras and drones.”
“CDOT should look for more of a carrot approach before bringing out the speed and red-light camera sticks again. We supposedly have a sophisticated traffic light and traffic management system in Charlotte. I see no evidence of that. CDOT gets very defensive when anyone questions their engineering of the system (maybe sensors are out, etc.) and where CDOT doesn’t adjust signal timing in work zones to minimize congestion as just two examples of their lack of concern or ability to address the underlying issues which lead to speeding and red light running.”
“YES. Bring back the cameras. No ability of anyone to say it’s racial profiling.”
In response to “He’s car-free in a car-centric city” (Oct. 14):
“I do really hate driving, but add a kid or three to the mix and check back in a few years, Mr. Walksalot!”
In response to “How to cut down on Charlotte’s traffic deaths?” (Oct. 7):
“Not to sound cynical, but in the Netherlands, there is an ethic of responsibility, which means people are willing to share the road for the benefit of all. That is a huge reason why the Dutch lead the rest of the world when it comes to the percentage who ride bikes, and at all ages and abilities. In the USA, it’s every-man-for-himself (and a few women, too). And for cars in the city, the speed limits are much lower than ours.”
“The real deal is driving education. It’s all the people that you see daily who don’t know what lane they are supposed to be in or can’t put down their phone long enough to avoid an accident and slow drivers that drive more than 10 mph under the speed limit. These have got to be some of the main reasons we have so many incidents.”
“[Braxton] Winston is right: People speed because our streets are designed for it. Almost every single design feature of our streets is designed for speed: wide lanes, broad turning radii, wide clear zones and barely any traffic-calming measures at all. No wonder people go fast: Everything about the street design gives you plenty of space and leeway and so you hardly notice how fast you are going until you are speeding!”
“I moved to Charlotte in 2013 from the Washington, D.C., area, where traffic is about as bad as it can be. I was amazed at the speed limits here on what I considered to be city/residential streets. I had a theory that Charlotte has grown so quickly, traffic planners are not looking clearly at the amount of traffic currently. 45 mph seems to be the official speed on streets that were/are heavily traveled when 35 mph makes sense.”
“The red-light running is happening at scary frequency. I witnessed it just this morning on The Plaza at Matheson. Speeding is absolutely an epidemic, regardless of the road design. [Council member] Larken [Egleston] mentioned Parkwood as an example of newer designed road. The people still speed on it. … There’s a lot more we can do to make roads safer and create more sidewalks and ways for pedestrians to cross the street safely.”
“Sharon Road West is not designed to speed like a certain City Council person stated. It is just like every other street in Charlotte, where drivers disobey the law and break stated speed limits. Drivers of school buses, buses and automobiles routinely and purposely run the red lights at the intersection of Hopeton Road and Sharon Road West.”
“So we need to redesign streets to keep people from speeding? What about personal responsibility?”
“Thank you for the report regarding traffic problems. I have lived here over 20 years and I have never driven so defensively in my life. The traffic issues of speeding, running red lights and the lack of enforcement, in my opinion, are the major issues. I have also lived in several different countries where cameras are used in city intersections and highways, and they work well. The fines are close to draconian, so the infraction only happens once.”
“With the driving infraction history of Braxton Winston, his license should be lifted for two years to take him off the road for a while.”
“One thing to keep in mind with Charlotte’s increase in traffic deaths: They’re up nationwide as well. The increase in bad driving has paralleled the increase in murders since mid-2020, if memory serves.”
“Sounds like Winston is part of the problem, not part of the solution.”
“One vote for money to teach these Southerners how to drive, please.”
In response to “Lessons from Thomas and friends” (Sept. 16):
“This was a great article. I don’t think John Lewis at CATS is capable of planning a practical transit system for Charlotte that includes buses. The Gold Line is a politically motivated transit effort, and not a practical way to spend limited transit funds. The only real effort at a regional transportation plan is Connect Beyond, which does not seem be making any progress.”
“My wife was working in a nearby day care center several years ago. One day, a 3-year-old boy peed on Thomas the Tank Engine. We will never forget that incident.”
In response to “Can a runner beat the new streetcar?” (Sept. 9)
“Did the runner obey all pedestrian signals when crossing side streets? Or did she just cross against the pedestrian signals if she could dodge the cars?”
“What is the point of this article? Are you suggesting everyone in Charlotte who is young, fit, and able-bodied should sprint to their destinations along the Gold Line corridor instead of using the streetcar to get places? To be fair, can you pit this young runner against a car that is stuck in a traffic jam at rush hour over a similar distance and see who wins? Or maybe you could have someone who is elderly or disabled try to outrun the Gold Line? The extent to which this newsletter consistently attacks all modes of transportation other than driving is concerning, especially for a growing city, and odd given the name of the newsletter. Maybe you should rename it ‘Anti-Transit Time?’ … Please consider that what may seem like a fun-and-games article has consequences for how your readers perceive transit, and you are doing a disservice to the many Charlotteans who desperately need and want transportation choices.”
“Emily don’t need no stinkin’ tracks.”
“Emily transported as many people as the streetcar did.”
“Four miles at 7:13/mile is pretty impressive. Not sure that qualifies as ‘human’ for most of us.”
“Emily, did you stop at each station for at least a minute?”
“I want to love this streetcar, but there are so many reasons it is a waste of money. At the very least, give it traffic light priority! I'd love to see a streetcar and pedestrian/bike/scooter-only Trade Street, like in some European cities.”
Bokhari goes to Raleigh to talk transit; Is he the gatekeeper to legislators?
A week after the City Council voted to take a back seat on the political strategy for advancing the transit plan, Republican council member Tariq Bokhari took a trip to Raleigh to talk shop with legislators.
In series of photos with Republican legislative leaders he posted on Twitter and Facebook on Wednesday, Bokhari said some of the takeaways from his meetings are that members of the General Assembly want a data-driven, collaborative, fiscally responsible approach to transit in Charlotte that improves traffic congestion and anticipates future technologies. Those are some of the same themes Bokhari tends to hit.
A bigger role in transit plan? Bokhari is only one of 11 council members and is routinely outvoted by the 9-2 Democratic majority when there’s disagreement on major issues. But he could play an outsized role in the fate of Charlotte’s transit plan, because Republican legislative leaders are more like to listen to him than to Democrats. Charlotte would need approval from the General Assembly to put a sales tax increase on the ballot for a voter referendum. A sales tax increase has been identified as a major funding source for a plan that includes money for light rail, buses, greenways, sidewalks and bike lanes.
Bokhari posted photos of himself with House speaker Tim Moore and key leaders of House and Senate committees including rules, appropriations and transportation.
At a council meeting last week, a council majority said it preferred for the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance, not the city, to take the lead on a communications and political strategies and that the plan — which the city is calling the Transformational Mobility Network, or TMN — isn’t concrete enough to start lobbying for. They also said they preferred a more regional approach.
In a statement to the Charlotte Business Journal’s Erik Spanberg about Bokhari’s solo visit, the Business Alliance’s chief advocacy and strategy officer, Kelly O’Brien, said:
We look forward to partnering with elected officials at all levels to advance the TMN and other initiatives that align with the goal of connecting comprehensive infrastructure throughout the region. This is an ongoing dialogue and we are evaluating important community priorities and feedback as we seek to move these mobility plans forward. Our team is working on a bipartisan approach to finding future solutions for all.
Related Transit Time articles:
Light rail, streetcar will be out of commission for 2 days: The Lynx Blue Line and CityLynx Gold Line will be out of service on Nov. 13 and 14, as the Charlotte Area Transit System conducts annual maintenance, CATS said. (WCNC)
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