Chapel Hill

Transit investment key to future success in Chapel Hill & Carrboro

{Cross Posted from Chapel Hill News}

 

Chapel Hill Transit bus

If you boarded a Chapel Hill Transit bus back in February, you might have been greeted by someone with a clipboard asking you to answer a few questions about your ride. The results of this survey were just released and include relevant and interesting findings as we think about the future of transit in our community.

These survey data tell us quite a bit about who rides Chapel Hill Transit. Most riders (88 percent) were somehow affiliated with UNC, and 93 percent of those surveyed were taking the bus to get to college or work. A majority (68 percent) ride the bus five days a week while another 21 percent use it three or four days a week.

Embracing Change in Chapel Hill-Carrboro

{Cross posted from the Chapel Hill News}

 

A picture of a stop sign graffitied to read “STOP PROGRESS” appeared on Twitter last week. The person who Tweeted it captioned it simply: “Chapel Hill politics in a nutshell.”

A few days later, a community leader expressed to one of us their disappointment in how our community is perceived. “People used to look to us as a leader in innovative policies, a place where cool things were happening. That doesn’t happen anymore.”

How we got to this point is no mystery. Past local elected officials enacted policies that made it difficult to open new businesses and build new kinds of housing. As a result, most development of the past few decades has been low-density, single-family homes on dead-end streets.

What Are Your Hopes For Our Community?

[Cross-posted from the Chapel Hill News]

We’re fortunate to live in a community with many resources and services. That’s a large part of what makes southern Orange County so appealing to newcomers, and so hard for natives and Carolina graduates to leave.

But our community isn’t perfect. We don’t have it all. The way we live is changing, and so our community and the things we want to see in it have to change, too. How we currently live and how people will live in 50 years are sure to be different. It’s important that we keep this evolution in mind in making decisions now that shape our community later.

We should start today to identify what’s missing in our community. For example, community conversations have already identified a desire for things like an arts district, more robust public transit options, more green space, housing options that are affordable for everyone, retail choices that don’t require driving to Durham, and commercial space to support microenterprises and makers.

Better Community Engagement Needed

The talking-at-elected-officials-at-podiums-at-7-p.m. model isn’t working for the great majority of residents in our community. This method excludes too many people, and it privileges those who can spend many hours participating in lengthy meetings.

What's Next for Chapel Hill?

This year's municipal election is over. There were wins I was proud of and losses that deeply disappointed me. Regardless of who you supported in this year's elections, I think we can all agree that everyone who ran should be given our thanks for stepping up to the plate; that the incumbents who lost should be given our gratitude for their years of service; and that the council and mayoral newcomers should now be given our help, advice, and honest feedback to keep Chapel Hill moving forward on progressive issues.

I'm a fan of the TV show The West Wing, and though it ended years ago I rewatch it regularly. Not the least of the reasons why I keep watching is that it portrays a universe in which nearly everyone involved in political leadership is motivated by strong ideals, and works every day with a sense of duty to make their country a better place. And I'm reminded today of fictional President Josiah Bartlett's phrase at the end of every battle, won or lost: What's next?

After the happiness of victories and sadness of losses begin to fade, it's time for us to ask ourselves: What's next for Chapel Hill?

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