Why spend money on a traffic study for Charlotte Street?

A traffic study will address safety issues as well as ways the street could provide a safe passage for a variety of users.

Traffic safety on Charlotte Street is an issue and was the reason behind the formation of the Charlotte Streetscape Committee. A 2010 neighborhood survey showed that over 64 percent did not feel safe walking — “cars routinely exceeding speed limits; cars too close to pedestrians.” Many of the businesses expressed concerns, such as patrons intimidated by fast traffic and having difficulty making left turns.

A recent Asheville Police Department report highlights safety issues. For the first six months of 2012, there were 20 crashes on Charlotte between I-240 and Macon Avenue, versus 17 on Merrimon Avenue between Interstate 240 and Hillside Street. Both lengths are approximately a half-mile. So Charlotte, probably with a lower traffic volume, has more crashes than Merrimon.

Motorists who use the corridor as a “thru way” have commented that very few pedestrians and cyclists use Charlotte and have questioned why changes would be made for a few [people]. Why? Because the city has a policy — Complete Streets — that looks at making its streets amenable to other users.

The Charlotte corridor has many aspects that make it an ideal candidate for consideration as a Complete Street. There are approximately 1,115 households within easy walking distance of Charlotte, where there are many services and businesses that cater to the residents. Also, the area is within a walkable distance to downtown. A safer passage would accommodate the people in the neighborhoods who would choose to be “car free” some or all of the time.

The study may reveal the potential for the street to become more welcoming to pedestrians and cyclists, to enhance local business activity and still keep the traffic flowing.

— Grace Curry
Charlotte Streetscape Committee
Asheville

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