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The Daily Planet's Opinion: January 2019
Thursday, 03 January 2019 11:52

Bicycles should not force narrowing of Charlotte Street

The idea to reduce Charlotte Street from three to five lanes has once again emerged from zealous — and narrow-thinking (pun intended) — city leaders.

Among the arguments is that by slowing traffic, it ultimately will reduce the volume of cars, trucks and SUVs, making Charlotte Street safer.

Given that nobody is predicting that fewer people will be moving to the Asheville area, the question arises as to where this traffic avoiding Charlotte Street is going to go. (For sure, the traffic is not going away.)

Adjoining Chestnut Street is already a challenge and it was that way prior to a proposed five-story residential building at the Fuddruckers site.

If nearby Atlanta is any example (and we think it is), the cars that avoid Charlotte Street simply will cut through other residential side streets.

Those who live in the neighborhood and constantly use Charlotte Street already know how three lanes function, as evidenced by every time there is a water-main break or some other infrastructure problem that causes a lane closure — immediate traffic backup.

It is also a stretch to imagine how a single turn lane accessing both sides of the street would work.

Unlike Hendersonville Road, which has many strip malls with common parking, thus allowing a single turn-lane access to multiple businesses, Charlotte Street has dense businesses, usually with individual parking.

They cannot all have turn lanes, so would not this result in a lot of U-turn situations? If so, that would be potentially horrific.

We are cognizant that Charlotte Street is not the most bike-friendly road in the city, but we also would bet that only one in 1,000 vehicles on Charlotte Street is a bicyle. Therefore, taking a car lane to create two bike lanes is absurd, resulting in bicycles being given a gratuitous, unwarranted and unjustifiable advantage, while creating a never-ending traffic jam on Charlotte Street.

As Asheville’s Steve Woolum wrote in a stellar letter to the editor in the Dec 11 edition of the Mountain Xpress. unlike cars, trucks and SUVs, bicycles can use back neighborhood roads with little impact.

“I often take my scooter downtown and use different routes than when driving my car, so why can’t bikes?” Woolum rightly states.

We urge the powers-that-be to leave Charlotte Street with four lanes for regular cars, trucks and SUVs, while, at the same, making any possible improvements for access and safety for bicyclists and pedestrians. 



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