Let’s get real. The Charlotte Street “road diet” recently approved by Asheville City Council is being touted as removing one lane of traffic, but that’s not true. The diet removes one lane in each direction: two lanes.
Currently, traffic in each direction has two through lanes, one of which also serves for left turns. Not particularly broken. Taking advantage of the many wonderful businesses in the area, I have been walking up, down and across Charlotte Street since I moved to the neighborhood more than a decade ago. The only time I have been in danger from a car was a few weeks ago while trying to cross Charlotte Street at one of the new flashing-light crosswalks — I thought I would get wiped out. Cars simply don’t stop because there is no stoplight, and the LED lights provide inadequate warning.
The changes are a done deal, and maybe it will all work out just fine. Another scenario is increasing road rage from backups, followed by more cars cutting through the heart of the neighborhood, where families with young children are moving in. It’s regrettable that there was a fatality “many years ago,” in the mayor’s words, but police reports since then don’t show that the corridor is “very dangerous” to pedestrians. Yes, it feels tight, but my understanding is that the current plan does not even include widening sidewalks.
And, no, I have never seen any of the Council members or the mayor walking along Charlotte Street.
— Nan K. Chase
Editor’s note: The writer is the author of Asheville: A History.