Public Hearing Comment

AOB 101 Charlotte St Public Comment

asheville-on-bikes-logoTO: Asheville City Council,
FROM: Mike Sule on behalf of Asheville on Bikes

Dear City Council,
On behalf of the Asheville on Bikes’ (AoB) Board of Directors, I encourage you to vote to approve the 101 Charlotte St. project. Historically, AoB’s public input has been limited exclusively to issues of transportation. We’re breaking with that tradition because we feel this project is critical to our goals to establish a robust active transportation network that enables people to move about their community and connect to goods and services through a variety of transportation modes. The 101 project is an immediate opportunity to highlight the interconnectedness of mixed-use dense development and active transportation options, both of which are identified as City of Asheville’s goals in its comprehensive plan, “Living Asheville – A Comprehensive Plan for our Future.

“Encourage Responsible Growth” is the primary goal of the comprehensive plan and two of the performance measure outcomes relate directly to the proposed change in use. They are:

  • Higher density smart growth located in areas identified on the Preferred Growth Scenario Map. Charlotte St is identified on the Preferred Growth Scenario Map as an Innovation District and the corridor is a burgeoning business district with existing sidewalks, transit stops, and bicycle facilities. A dense mixed-use development adjacent to these urban transportation essentials aligns directly with Smart Growth principles.

Additional comprehensive plan goals that 101 project actualizes include: “Increase Mixed-Use Development Along Transit Corridors,” “Make Streets More Walkable, Comfortable and Connected,” and “Increase Access to Safe Bicycling.” The related performance measures and their metrics include:

  • More activity, including people living and working, within a quarter-mile walk of transit
  • Greater access to jobs, neighborhoods services and transit
  • Increase access to bicycle infrastructure
  • Increase in the percentage of people who bike
  • More bicycle parking facilities

And again, the 101 project inches our City toward the above-codified goals that our community established.

AoB breaks with tradition to support this project because we’re responding to the community’s need to elevate the dialogue regarding the relationship between mobility, proximity, and land use. Dense mixed-use development results in close proximity to goods and services people need. The distance to the market, the doctor’s office, the park, the restaurant, the school, and employment all can exist within a 1, maybe 2-mile circle. Proximity, when coupled with sidewalks, transit, and bicycle facilities, reduces people’s dependence on automobiles.

So much of the 101 opposition is focused on preservation of old homes on the property and traffic without any recognition of how proximity to goods, services, employment, impacts housing costs, mobility options, and health. When we choose urban mixed-use development we offer our citizens accessibility beyond the automobile. Consider that the Charlotte St road diet has increased bicycle use on the street by 70% according to the recent study conducted by Transportation Planning and Design. When we invest in mobility options, people use them especially when distances to goods and services are reduced.

AoB recognizes that existing homes are going away as they are in disrepair and the owners no longer want to be landlords anymore. The property will be redeveloped and the usage will change. A dense mixed-use development adjacent to a burgeoning business district with existing sidewalks, transit stops, and bicycle facilities is the appropriate next iteration of the property.

AoB advocates for bicycle facilities not simply for bikeablity’s sake but rather as an investment in the health of our community. We understand the 101 Charlotte St. project as an investment in the vitality of our city and its people.

Respectfully submitted,

Mike Sule