Is Downtown Development the Problem?

As I read Tom Roche's comment on the new development in Carrboro and the idea of the Developer attempting to get out of building adequate parking by claiming it is the "Green Thing to Do" - Building parking = Less profit. It is nice to see to Progressives and Builders agreeing that more parking is bad, even if it is for different reasons - I am struck by something I had never really thought about - Is Downtown development the problem and not the solution?

I don't know and I don't really have a vested interest in any of this other than being a suburban resident with limited access to services without the use of a car - thanks to zoning and a really big, wide and dangerous street (MLK BLVD) separating me from shopping and services.  I am very proud of Chapel Hill and Carrboro and what they are trying to do with their downtowns - better lighting would be my first thought.

But wouldn't it be nice if there was a small development, perhaps with some rental apartments within walking distance of the neighborhoods off Weaver Dairy or if it was less annoying and dangerous to walk to the ones off Homestead?

It really isn't a bad walk, but with the traffic zooming by well in excess of the posted 35 mph speed limit, it scares me to death to walk with young children down there. Would it be so environmentally damaging to put the sidewalk and a paved bike path two or three feet away from MLK?

I know their is a study group looking at the area, but maybe someone should look at rezoning some of the older places as light commercial or retail and in-filling a Southern Village Style setup or working to make that a part of the development that will be going in on this side of 86.

I realize that downtown is the crown jewel and that everything is about getting people downtown, but by forcing people downtown, we are reinforcing the very problems that we are trying to correct. Rather than increasing the use of public transportation, we need to decrease the need for it by putting more services near the subdivisions.

Personally, I would walk or bike to downtown, even from here, but at 38 I don't have the reflexes to get out of the way of these people doing 55 and 60 the way I did when I was 16 and would bike for 20 or 30 miles in a day.

For those of you in the know, are there greenspace initiatives working to get bikers and walkers a better way to get to downtown. I can't think of anything better than a good walk, but having tried it recently, I would rather not under current conditions.

Anyone have any ideas or solutions that are in the works for this one?



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