Steve Yaffe, Regent Park resident, transit consultant, and member of the Bike/Ped Coalition of York County, shares his views on the upcoming Centralina Council of Governments Regional Transit Plan.
The Charlotte-Area Transit System (CATS) staff has recommended that this study include rapid transit corridors to York and Lancaster Counties.
Transit and pedestrian/bike planning are necessary, given four factors:
- The interest in avoiding burgeoning traffic congestion, especially on the commute. The South Charlotte area population including York and Lancaster Counties will increase 70% in the next 18 years. The average commute time will increase substantially as well.
- Despite the influx of young adults, we have a large number of residents who are aging in place. I’ve seen some of my neighbors drive to the mailbox. Maintaining mobility is a problem for older adults and people with disabilities.
- Most of us are getting bigger. Obesity, hypertension and diabetes are rising here and across the country. Yet, our land use discourages walking and biking. Many neighborhoods are pipe-stems or walled communities with one outlet.
- We lack safe alternatives to driving.
- South Carolina has the 6th highest rate of pedestrian fatalities (Assocation n.d.).
- According to the League of American Bicyclists, (Ken McLeod 2017) South Carolina ranks in the bottom 10 of all states according to bike/ped spending per capita.
- While Rock Hill has a new local bus system and the County subsidizes a CATS commuter route to uptown, most of the RFATS area has no local transit.
So how shall we respond?
- By developing a connected continuous pathway system, at least along major arterials. 460 will have a pedestrian pathway over I-77 – but 160 needs one as well to connect Baxter and Kingsley Villages.
- By mandating paved pathway shoulders alongside South Carolina roads as they are repaved. In my observation, most roads maintained by the state have less than 4” of pavement to the right of a deeply-serrated white edge line. This forces cyclists to ride in the traffic lane.
- By changing zoning and other regulations to encouraged denser mixed-use developments where people can live, shop, and work – using their feet.
- By having the state and localities adopt the Complete Streets policy described by the South Carolina Livable Communities Alliance
- By planning for direct accessible pedestrian connections from the center of communities to shared-ride meeting spots. Even an on-demand shared ride service will require collection points to pick up and drop off riders.
- By planning for local rides between shared-ride meeting spots. Think of a wheelchair-accessible Ford Transit bouncing between neighborhood spots and a transit station like a ping pong ball. But remember, riders must walk or cycle to the vehicle.
About the writer: Steve Yaffe, proprietor of Yaffe Mobility Consulting LLC, co-chaired the 2019 TRB International Conference on Demand Responsive and Innovative Transportation Services and is a member of the TRB Transformative Trends in Transit Data Subcommittee. He retired in 2018 as the Transit Services Manager for the Arlington County Department of Environmental Services – Transportation Division, where he oversaw planning and operations for Arlington Transit (ART) fixed-route transit as well as Specialized Transit for Arlington Residents (STAR). STAR is the local paratransit alternative to MetroAccess, the DC metropolitan area ADA paratransit service.