Streets optimized to move people would stop Charlotte street racing, mayor pro tem says
It happened again this past weekend near the NASCAR Hall of Fame in uptown Charlotte.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) – Charlotte’s mayor pro tem says the key to stopping street racing is to “engineer streets NOT to be racetracks.”
That’s a portion of a Tuesday morning tweet from Braxton Winston, in response to police reports that hundreds of cars have participated in street takeovers in the Queen City.
It happened again this past weekend near the NASCAR Hall of Fame in uptown Charlotte, leading to officers issuing over a dozen citations, making two arrests, towing eight vehicles and seizing one firearm.
“Charlotte is not unique to face this situation, many other cities have dealt with it, either right now or some point in the last few years,” said Jean-Claude Thill, a Knight Distinguished Professor of Public Policy at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
Related: Police: Hundreds of cars part of ‘street takeovers’ in Charlotte
Winston said streets should be engineered to optimize moving people, especially near neighborhoods.
“For far too long we’ve engineered streets to move cars as fast as possible. Hence, they will be used as racetracks,” Winston, serving his second term on Charlotte City Council, tweeted.
Thill added, “when you have these kinds of situations, you need a drive, you need a car, and you need an environment that is conducive to it, so all of the ingredients seem to be put together here for this to happen.”
Professor Thill agrees with Winston’s tweet about road designs contributing to the issues. A Charlotte resident I talked to thinks differently.
Micah Downs said, “I think it’s a very odd take on how it would translate to what happened out here, but I think there’s always a better way to do things.”
Thill said, “certainly, when you have streets that stretch, especially intersections, so 4 lanes, 6 lanes, it’s a tremendous opportunity, it’s a big welcoming sign there for those street racers.”
The Mayor Pro Tem added in a second tweet, “Traffic calming can be cheap, effective, & temporary while more permanent long-term solutions are engineered.”
So, I asked the Distinguished Professor if the posts from Winston were practical.
Thill said, “you can put from speed bumps and other kinds of concrete obstacles to prevent this kind of behavior, so it definitely is possible to do and require some active action from part of the community and CDOT in this case.”
Professor Thill added more when it comes to planning and designing cities: “This is really putting the citizens back in the center of design for our cities, cities for citizens and people, not for cars.”
It was last June that the council passed its Strategic Mobility Plan, laying the groundwork to make Charlotte less car-dependent and improve transit.
Related: Charlotte leaders pass the Strategic Mobility Plan
The initiative, part of the Charlotte Future 2040 Comprehensive Plan, is designed to improve Charlotte’s public transportation, calling for a 50-50 mode share. That means 50% of all travel will happen through walking, cycling, or public transit.
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