by Josh Todd, Reconsidered Goods Environmental Studies Intern
The city of Greensboro aims to provide alternatives to transportation
beyond the means of cars.
This initiative is part of a plan aimed to develop Greensboro to be a more sustainable city (GSO2040). This plan is to find planning and locations that allow a lifestyle without a motor vehicle. Sustainability is something at the core values of Reconsidered Goods and stands behind this plan. Transitioning to car-optional is another step in the right direction to becoming a functionable, sustainable city.
Rated highly on the roadways and ability to navigate via car, the initiative put forward is focused on the control of traffic, relieving cars from major public areas is a key step in moving a place to be more pedestrian friendly. The new urban loop that has opened connects many major highways and relieves busy roads of inter-city traffic. A recent poll included in the GSO2040 plan stated that over half of the population of Greensboro would like more walkable, less trafficked areas. The way in which we can help is by using intercity highways and the new urban loop to alleviate traffic from smaller vein roads, especially those that get lots of foot traffic. The urban planning revolved around being a more car-optional city through the development of walkways and implementation of micro mobility. Micro mobility is anything related to transportation that can navigate walker-friendly areas such as bikes and e-scooters. Companies such as Blue Duck have been contracted to further continue these efforts, bringing more attention to the importance of these carbon free modes of transportation. Access to these methods of transport is available downtown, as well as around UNC Greensboro’s campus.
Access to basic needs is an issue faced by Greensboro already, living a more car-optional lifestyle is something with which many faces issues, especially in the South and Eastern sides of Greensboro. The lifestyle this initiative aims to push puts a focus on urban planning and how we can be creative with space. Our planning is heavily based around cars and car-based infrastructure, something that would need to be transformed through policy. Greensboro is generalized as a food desert, a major setback regarding the ability to expand. Food desert is a blanket term referring to the lack of food availability via grocery stores, particularly relating to the struggle to obtain healthy foods for individuals without access to a car. Many residents of the city also live far beyond the means of public transportation, a fifteen-minute drive to the grocery store is a reality for many families not only in Greensboro, but the county as a whole. Becoming a food desert, especially in residential areas, is a reflection on many aspects of socio-economic divide in terms of development and infrastructure. The Greensboro/Highpoint area ranks 14th in the nation for food insecurity, affecting mainly low-income areas that are considered beyond the means of acquiring accessible food. Developing plans to transfer to a car optional city puts an emphasis on food access, attempting to solve the issue of food deserts along the transition process.