Charlotte City Council in talks to raise fines for blocking streetcars, parking in bike lanes

CHARLOTTE — There’s a $25 fine in store for anyone caught parking on streetcar tracks or bike lanes around Charlotte, but city council members are wondering if the fine is too low to actually deter anyone.

During Wednesday’s meeting, Charlotte City Council members discussed raising the fines on tickets issued for blocking bike lanes or streetcar tracks, along with trucks that park on the side of the highway.

‘Vehicle parked on the tracks’

Cars and SUVs have repeatedly blocked the Charlotte Area Transit System Gold Line, causing delays for passengers.

A search of CATS’ social media accounts will show over a dozen posts with delays because of vehicles parked on tracks and warnings of fines for parking on the tracks in the past year.

Riders have also shared pictures of cars blocking the tracks. Some of the cars are near parking spaces, but they’re too close to the street.

‘It is crucial’

“In certain areas, it is pretty dangerous,” said Keith King, a bike rider who spoke to Channel 9′s Joe Bruno on Wednesday.

King said he rides his bike frequently, and he knows what it’s like to be hit by a car.

“It didn’t hurt me bad, but it hurt me,” King said.

Charlotte City Council wants to make sure the areas designated for cyclists remain clear of traffic. That includes truckers who park on the side of the road. Some said the current $25 ticket is laughable.

“Logistics is a part of our city, I get it, but no one wants to run into the back of an 18-wheeler on [W.T.] Harris Boulevard or have their neighborhood be visually polluted by tractor-trailers,” said Councilman Malcolm Graham of District 2.

“That has been shared throughout the industry: that it is cheaper to pay that $25 versus paying the fee at the actual designated trucking facility,” said Councilwoman LaWana Slack-Mayfield.

City council members have brought up the low fines before. Councilwoman Victoria Watlington told Channel 9 in August that she didn’t appreciate seeing all of the cars illegally parked in the Wilmore neighborhood. In response, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department announced it would begin towing vehicles.

Some council members also want to explore towing illegally parked tractor-trailers, in addition to the $100 fine.

The city council agenda says council members discussed the proposal Wednesday evening. The changes will be voted on in the coming weeks.

The city says code enforcement officers are now authorized to give out tickets.

King hopes the changes will help all commuters.

“A lot of people don’t respect it, and it is crucial,” King said.

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