CHARLOTTE, N.C. — One positive thing to come out of the coronavirus pandemic is that many people have been spending a lot more time outside. The City of Charlotte is aiming to give people more options of places to exercise and get fresh air while still staying 6-feet apart from others.
“If you've tried to get any exercise, you know you're hopping off into the street to try and avoid a baby stroller or a skateboard. The idea was really to give people some more space to social distance,” says Mayor pro team Julie Eiselt.
The Charlotte Department of Transportation’s shared streets program will kick off May 9, starting with 3 locations.
McClintock Road from The Plaza to Morningside Drive, Romany Road from Euclid Avenue to Kenilworth Avenue, and Jameston Drive, Irby Drive, Westfield Road from Freedom Park to Brandywine Road will all be closed to thru traffic. Eiselt said with less cars on the roads right now, it’s the perfect time to try this out.
If things go well, there’s the potential for more streets to be added. The City has already designated five more potential streets.
The roads won't be physically blocked off so emergency vehicles and people who live on the streets can still get through but there will be signage indicating the road is closed to traffic.
Some neighbors have voiced concerns about enforcing the rules and an increase in people trying to park in the area. Some worry it could negatively impact nearby businesses.
Eiselt sees it as a chance for those businesses to benefit.
“If you allowed them to put their merchandise on the street or have sidewalk tables and come enjoy a meal outside it may be an opportunity to open up sooner and get more attention,” she said.
It’s something she wants to see stay, even after coronavirus is gone.
“I think this has shown us people want to be outside. They've enjoyed walking with neighbors and friends, we know it’s healthier for all parts of town to get more exercise. As we start to do things differently, I hope we become a more walkable, pedestrian-friendly city,” she said.
Not every neighborhood will be getting a shared street but CDOT wants feedback on where people would like to see this. Submit thoughts to CharlotteDOT@charlottenc.gov