More mobility options for escaping traffic congestion

Our city needs to address growing traffic congestion by implementing the Wake Transit Plan and by enhancing our streetscapes to be more friendly to pedestrians and people on bikes.

Patrick Buffkin
Sep 8 · 5 min read
From an NC DoT camera looking at Westbound 540 near Six Forks Rd.

Traffic congestion is stealing our quality of life by robbing us of time at home with our families.

Raleigh and surrounding communities have traditionally grown in a way that depends heavily on the automobile for mobility. That is a reality we cannot change in 1 or 2 years, but we can start working to provide more mobility options other than a trip in an automobile. Simply put, our current path is unsustainable. Let’s start working now to avoid the traffic problems that are happening in Atlanta and Austin.

This data speaks to the heart of our challenge: we have a growing population in Wake County and each of us is driving more than we did in the past. Driving helps us go where we want, do the things we want to do, and live where we want to live. This trend will make all of that more difficult.

Efficient and Effective Implementation of the Wake Transit Plan

In 2016, the voters approved a 10-year plan for public transit, the Wake Transit Plan, along with funding by a dedicated 1/2 cent sales tax.

I support the efficient and effective implementation of the Wake Transit Plan.

Raleigh’s direct benefits from the Wake Transit Plan include a growing network of high quality, high frequency (at least every 15 minutes) bus and BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) services, and by 2027 Raleigh will be connected to Garner, Cary, RTP, and Durham by 37 miles of commuter rail service using the new Raleigh Union Station.

Raleigh bus service will be improved through more frequent buses (83 miles of 15-minute service), a larger network of connecting buses, reliable schedule-keeping, dedicated bus lanes wherever possible on BRT corridors, quicker stops through off-bus fare payment and level boarding at bus stops, traffic signals that give priority to buses, more covered bus stops, and increased express services.

With these and other improvements, Raleigh’s transit system will become a more attractive mobility choice. Businesses on frequent transit corridors will appeal to employees and customers who don’t want to fight traffic or hunt for parking. Everyone, including those who choose to drive, will move easier in our city when more people have the option of taking public transit.

Now Raleigh needs to do its part to support the efficient and effective implementation of the Wake Transit Plan by planning for appropriate growth along the busiest transit corridors.

Enhancing our Streetscapes

Raleigh needs to continue to refine our street network to be safer for pedestrians and people on bikes, focusing first on our downtown core and walkable urban environments where bikes and walking provide a good option for folks to get where they need to go.

Goal: Slow down traffic inside neighborhoods and capture stormwater runoff

The concepts being considered in the Midtown St. Albans Small Area Plan include a pedestrian bridge over I-440, and use of “greenstreet” elements. These concepts help to slow traffic down inside our neighborhoods and capture or slow stormwater runoff. That’s smart planning!

Goal: More sidewalks and better street crossings for pedestrian safety and connectivity.

We need to fund the backlog of sidewalk petition requests that are waiting action through the sidewalk petition program. Currently, it is estimated that sidewalks will take 2–3 years to be constructed, after council approval. That is simply too long — we need sidewalks to get kids to school safely, to help us access our neighborhood city parks, and to provide another transit option to avoid short car trips.

We need to improve pedestrian crossings at our busiest intersections so that people feel safe crossing the street and don’t spend too much time waiting on lights to change.

Goal: Fully networking our on-street bike facilities and integrating the greenway system as a transit option

An example of how a downtown bike network could work, taken from the proposed Downtown Transit Plan. The Raleigh Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Council (BPAC) is still working to make sure that this proposal will make a positive impact in people’s lives.

We need to fully connect our greenways to on-street bike facilities to provide another mobility option for people who want to avoid trips in a car.

As a member of the city parks board, I have been working toward a future where our greenway system can be fully connected as a part of our transit infrastructure. We have identified a number of issues that we need to work through like lighting our greenways at night, police presence to keep us safe, signage that helps people find their way, and building new connections, among others. The city has started the greenway system plan update, and I will be following it closely to see that some of these issues are being addressed.

Conclusion

Transit impacts our lives everyday. When we cannot move around the city in an efficient and predicable way, it is disruptive to our lives. As traffic congestion is growing, our challenges will grow bigger as well. We need a City Council that is ready to take on these challenges. I hope to earn your support so that we can work together on making transit work for us!

Patrick Buffkin

Written by

Candidate for Raleigh City Council District A, running to keep Raleigh moving forward

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