Car optional? How transportation is evolving in Greensboro; ‘it has to be connected, has to provide lots of different options’

Buckley Report

GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — As the Triad continues to compete for residents with cities like Raleigh, Charlotte and Atlanta, the concept of “livability” continues to come up.

When it comes to transportation, “That means, no matter your age, your ability or your resources that you have convenient transportation options that you can realistically see yourself using,” says Greensboro’s transportation director, Hanna Cockburn.

“If you compare (a community) to the human body, for example, we’re the circulatory system. So, for that to work well, it has to be connected and has to provide lots of different options,” she says.

For the last two years, the city has been taking input from residents about various aspects of life for its Comprehensive Plan.

“One of the interesting things in the comprehensive plan was a set of research that was conducted with the Realtor’s Association that looks at what features, what benefits communities need to have to be attractive in varying age groups and that really underscored the need to have walkable places, bikeable places with transportation choices as kind of a cornerstone to being a desirable location,” Cockburn says.

One point of the plan is what Greensboro is calling becoming a “car optional city.”

“That threw up a giant red flag to me because a car optional city is a whole different kind of verbiage than, say, a bike-friendly city,” says Jeff Yeattes. “Car optional says to me that the push is for fewer and fewer cars and those who commute into Greensboro from other towns and even just outside the city limits, they’ve just as much a right to be on the roads as cyclists.”

Yeattes says he can see this issue from all angles. He says before a health issue arose, he was an avid biker. But he also spent 45 years as a driver for UPS. He’s keenly aware of how tight things can get on the roads and how important safe parking spaces are in some areas of the city.

“The city told me that approximately 25 spaces were removed for the bike lane accommodation, right in through here,” he says about his neighborhood, around UNC Greensoro.

“I would really want to take a hard look at the numbers that made that determination,” Yeattes says of what he sees as the city’s plan to make biking nearly ubiquitous in the city. “Because, in certain areas of the city, yes sir, that right there makes good sense. But in a lot of areas of the city, no it’s not the right option.”

Cockburn understands that in a city of 300,000-plus, it’s impossible to please everyone, completely, but says:

“I think we’re growing in that direction. Greensboro has been recognized by the League of American Bicyclists for its investment in bicycle infrastructure.”

See how it all works in this edition of the Buckley Report.

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