Fund aims to make a more bike-friendly Charlotte

FILE PHOTO: A cyclist uses the bike lane as motorists drive along East Blvd.
FILE PHOTO: A cyclist uses the bike lane as motorists drive along East Blvd. tsumlin@charlotteobserver.com

A new fund announced Wednesday aims to make Charlotte a more bicycle-friendly, liveable city.

The Knight Charlotte Cycling Fund was created with $600,000 in support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Money from the fund will launch planning by experts, community leaders and representatives of local cycling organizations to introduce fun, fast ways to make the city more bike-friendly. Among other methods, that could include safety classes and street festivals.

“City leaders are increasingly recognizing that a thriving Charlotte will help to attract and keep the young talent that contributes to a healthy economy, while encouraging people to make connections and get involved in civic life,” said Susan Patterson, Knight Foundation program director for Charlotte.

The effort is expected to build on city efforts over the past decade to increase cycling routes from one bike lane to 174 bike lanes and add signs for bike routes and off-road paths.

More collaboration will be encouraged among cycling groups that offer rider education programs.

Foundation for the Carolinas will help manage the effort.

“When you consider the great cities of the world, one thing nearly all have in common is a commitment to being bike and pedestrian-friendly,” said Brian Collier, executive vice president of Foundation for the Carolinas.

“Charlotte has made great strides, but we look forward to partnering with Knight to create an even more vibrant, livable community,” he said.

The Knight Foundation also has invested in a vision plan to re-energize uptown Charlotte’s North Tryon corridor, and recently supported Foundation for the Carolinas’ efforts to revitalize the historic Carolina Theatre at Belk Place.

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Twitter: @jmarusak