Published: Jul 21, 2012 07:00 PM
Modified: Jul 20, 2012 11:02 AM
How green is Chapel Hill?
Let me count the ways …
Pedestrian friendly? – well actually this is a problem. The town places bus stops one block from stop-light crosswalks. As a result pedestrians must dash across a busy road to reach the bus stop OR they can walk one block to the designated cross walk, wait for the light to cross safely, and then walk one block back to the bus stop. Other cities place bus stops proximal to traffic lights to ensure pedestrian safety. Chapel Hill has recognized the problems associated with these mid-block bus stops and erected medians so pedestrians can cross half-way and stand on these medians while the oncoming cars whiz by. Moving the bus stop to the corner with the traffic light makes more sense!
Bicycle friendly? – Putting up a sign that claims bicycle friendliness does not make for safe travel on area roads. There are NO off-road trails that connect to any destination in the entire town. There are some off road trails that abruptly put a bicycler on to high traffic areas – to wit the Booker Creek Trail which erupts on to Franklin street at Eastgate, or Bolin Creek Trail which erupts on to Martin Luther King Road. Neither offers any direction on where the next leg of a safe trail might be found.
Parks and green spaces? – These are very hard to find anywhere on public property within town. Even the new “medians” are bricked over. Where is a space to sit and eat lunch and enjoy a park-like setting within city area?
Bus service – Here we have an attempt to reduce car traffic in town. However, many of these buses which are using energy and spewing pollution ride empty or nearly empty day after day. A bus that has a capacity for 40 or more people that runs through miles of city streets with fewer than 10 people – that’s not green. Smaller buses would make sense with doubling up on service at high-volume times.
School buses – School buses travel close to my home each school day. They will stop four times within one block to let each child off at their doorstep. Really? In a nation with an obesity problem, keeping kids from walking even one block is teaching a bad lesson. The pollution caused by multiple stops within one block multiplied by miles of bus routes is not green.
School busses and city buses serving the same route – Many children in my neighborhood will choose to ride the town bus which travels directly to the school children attend. Why are there two (or three or four) buses serving the same population for the same destinations?
Traffic lights – anyone who has waited a full three minutes at the “green” turnabout at 15-501/Erwin Road must wonder about how this configuration got passed any environmental committee. Cars are lined up waiting to turn when there is NO oncoming traffic in sight. Traveling through town and encountering the lack of synchronization of lights is frustrating for those of us who value clean air and energy conservation. Perhaps the amount of pollution is offset in the minds of the town by the taxes it gets from gallons of gas burned in those cars . (The gas tax in N.C. is <35cents/gallon now, one of the highest in the country).
Is Chapel Hill green? Hard-to-find parks, no contiguous bicycle trails, nonsensical pedestrian rules, buses driving empty, on and on. No. Chapel Hill needs to evaluate its policies and create common sense approach to becoming green – not just say it is green.
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