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Charlotte WALKS pedestrian plan receives award

The Charlotte WALKS Pedestrian Plan will receive the Silver 2018 National Planning Achievement Award for Transportation Planning from the American Planning Association (APA). The award recognizes the city of Charlotte, North Carolina, for its effort to expand non-vehicle transportation options to its growing population and improve walkability of the city’s sidewalks. The Charlotte WALKS Pedestrian Plan is one of 16 Achievement Award recipients this year.

“We are thrilled that the APA has recognized Charlotte WALKS as one of the best transportation plans in the country,” said Scott Curry, Pedestrian Program Manager at the Charlotte Department of Transportation. “It’s a testament to the more than 1,000 Charlotteans who participated in the development of the plan, and to the commitment our city’s leadership has made to improve pedestrian safety and accessibility. We are energized by this announcement, and we are eager to continue the challenging work of implementing the Charlotte WALKS plan to make Charlotte a better place for families to walk.”
In Charlotte, more than 250,000 residents do not drive or own a car and the city is working to provide more non-vehicle transportation options by implementing Charlotte WALKS, the city’s first comprehensive pedestrian plan. Charlotte WALKS focuses on three main priorities: creating a safe environment for pedestrians; providing a useful street network and land use mix to allow residents to accomplish daily needs within a walkable proximity; and making streets and neighborhoods more comfortable and inviting. The plan’s “One Less Trip” study finds that even the smallest incremental changes in transportation policy and behavior can provide positive environmental and economic benefits, including job creation, household savings, improved health and wellbeing, and reduced gas emissions.
The city is spending $7.5 million annually on improvements to increase walkability, including 24 miles of sidewalks, 91 new pedestrian crossings and 84 improved crossings. $1.4 million of that funding will improve safety along high-volume urban trails. The plan recommends a new Charlotte Placemaking Hub which has already been implemented. The Charlotte Placemaking Hub emphasizes streets as public spaces, allowing Charlotte residents to install pilot projects in the city’s right-of-way. The Open Streets 704 program, another component of the plan, helps bicyclists and pedestrians reimagine Charlotte’s streets as places for fun and exploration. As the city’s population continues to grow at a rate of 44 people per day, Charlotte WALKS will guide the city’s efforts to improve and expand non-vehicle transportation options.

“The plan has brought together the entire community and served to break down silos among city departments,” said W. Shedrick Coleman, AIA, 2018 Awards Jury chair. “The end result is impressive in making the community safer and healthier for all residents.”

You can find out more about the Charlotte WALKS Pedestrian Plan at www.charlottenc.gov/CharlotteWALKS

Each year, APA recognizes outstanding efforts in planning and planning leadership through its National Planning Excellence and Achievement Awards. The two-tier awards are selected through a juried process. Excellence Award recipients are the highest honor and Achievement Awards recognize accomplishments in areas of specialization within the planning profession.

APA’s national awards program, the profession’s highest honor, is a proud tradition established more than 50 years ago to recognize outstanding community plans, planning programs and initiatives, public education efforts and individuals for their leadership on planning issues.

In addition to the Charlotte WALKS Pedestrian Plan, APA honors the following 2018 Achievement Award recipients:

  • Spanish Planning Committee; Los Angeles County, California

Best Practice – Gold


  • Planning Assistance for Thriving Communities; St. Paul, Minnesota

Best Practice – Silver


  • San Francisco’s Accessory Dwelling Unit and Unit Legalization Program; San Francisco, California

Best Practice – Silver


  • Columbus-Franklin County Local Food System Planning; Columbus, Ohio

Best Practice – Silver


  • A Return to Past Prosperity: The ASARCO Redevelopment Project; Adams County and Denver, Colorado Economic Development – Gold


  • Collaboration: Sea-Level Marin Adaptation Response Team; San Rafael, California

Environmental Planning – Gold


  • Street Air; San Francisco, California

Grassroots Initiative – Gold


  • Jamestown Urban Design Plan; Jamestown, New York

Implementation – Gold


  • Community Vision Plan for the High Line Canal; Denver Metro Area, Colorado

Public Outreach – Gold


  • Innovations in Public Engagement; Newark, New Jersey

Public Outreach – Silver


  • City of San Jose Video Tutorial; San Jose, California

Public Outreach – Silver


  • National Park Service Long-Range Transportation Plan; Washington, D.C.

Transportation Planning – Gold


  • Grand Rapids Vital Streets Plan; Grand Rapids, Michigan

Transportation Planning – Silver


  • Rock Chapel Marine/PORT; Chelsea, Massachusetts

Urban Design – Gold


  • Rockaway Boardwalk Reconstruction; Queens, New York

Urban Design – Gold
All of the 2018 National Planning Award recipients will be honored at a special luncheon during APA’s National Planning Conference in New Orleans on April 23, 2018. The recipients will also be featured in the April issue of Planning magazine.

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