You Won't Believe What This Recent Elon Graduate Said About Charlotte!

Number 10 will shock you!




Another three-fer. I’m trying to meet quota here.

It appears that a widening of Interstate 485 won’t necessarily solve suburban and exurban Charlotte’s morning and evening commute problems. From the Observer’s Steve Harrison:

The completion later this year of a long-awaited Interstate 485 widening project will shorten the afternoon commute for thousands of drivers, who today face stop-and-go traffic.

But expanding the oldest section of the southern outerbelt could make the morning commute worse.

There are two areas of concern:

• That the improved outerbelt will encourage more people to use the interstates for commuting, which will put more cars on an already full Interstate 77.

• Additionally, the faster outerbelt will allow cars to reach I-77 more quickly, possibly making congestion on that north-south highway more severe.

The effect could be like putting more water through a small funnel.

Well (sigh), yeah. This is not a new concept. There’s a term for that first phenomenon: “suppressed demand.” The idea is that any relieved congestion from a widened highway is cancelled out by a sudden increase in people wanting to drive on the new highway who wouldn’t before. That goes double when you expand one highway without expanding another; all that does is move the choke point, not eliminate it.

So we can keep widening roads and highways ad nauseam or put more money into other modes of transportation, which always draws ideological opposition. (I’ll be writing more on this subject later, at some point, when the spirit moves me and deadlines ease.)

So, about that Huffington Post story about the 15 ways Charlotte is “the weirdest”? Know what I’m going to do? Not link to it. This is deliberate.

It’s a BuzzFeedy trifle, one of those GIF-infused listicles slapped together and optimized for maximum sharing potential. People around town seem chagrined about the article’s inaccuracies, gross generalizations, and “like, omigawd” tone.

That hardly seems necessary. The author is one Carly Ledbetter, “a recent graduate of Elon University, where she played volleyball and annoyed a lot of professors.” Carly moved to New York City from Charlotte three weeks ago and, according to her Twitter account, “spend[s] most of my hours dreaming about food.” She is not Fodor’s.

She is a young woman coming of age in a media biosphere that rewards dashed-off, thoughtless “content” that gets people to click and share and comment so that the sites they appear on can point to those clicks and “shares” and comments and charge higher rates for advertising. Ain’t Carly’s fault. Don’t hate the blogga; hate the blog.

So to point out that the answer to one of her 15 observations—No. 10, headlined “Public Transportation Is Hilarious”: “Does anyone actually use the light rail?”— is, “Uh, yeah,” is really beside the point. You clicked, didn’t you? I’m writing this at 6:47 p.m. The post I’m not going to link to has received more than 11,000 “likes” on Facebook and 2,594 “shares,” and has been tweeted 285 times. And hey, Charlotte made HuffPo! It’s creating buzz, its own justification. Godspeed, Carly Ledbetter. You don’t know much, but you know how to get people a-clickin’ and a-sharin’, and that is all you need to know.

Finally, Franklin Graham. No real need to discuss it, is there? You’re either disgusted at his ignorance or delighted by his Willingness To Stand Up For Traditional Values™. Debate won’t solve a thing.

But debate there was. A friend of mine got into one on the aforementioned Book of Face with a self-identified conservative Christian who said she was tired of the line of thinking by which people who insist on tolerance of their beliefs call hers ignorant or bigoted.

OK. Fair point. Know what I’m tired of, besides click bait? Self-identified conservative Christians pretending the no-longer-universally-accepted status of their beliefs constitutes “persecution,” and that trying to consign gay people by law to second-class citizenship is a matter of “religious freedom.” But then I suppose we all have our own private persecutions to bitch about.



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Poking the Hornet's Nest

Greg Lacour on Politics

Charlotte had a Democratic mayor that got rebuffed by a Democratic majority council before the president appointed him to his cabinet; a former mayor in the Governor's Mansion after an oh-for-infinity streak; membership in a state that sees Charlotte as, well, another state; a neighboring state where public officials do very, very silly things (and sometimes go "hiking"); and a county commissioner who specializes in insulting constituents yet can't seem to get himself unelected. Sounds interesting to me, so I write about it and other matters public. Hashtag #nestpoke. You want to yell at me, email

About Greg Lacour

Greg Lacour spent nearly 10 years as a reporter for the Observer, where he covered Charlotte and Mecklenburg County government, including the infamous Nick Mackey for Sheriff farce of 2007-08, which made him simultaneously homesick for his hometown of New Orleans and hopeful that Charlotte might yet attain "world-class" status. He has written several features for this magazine and took part in the Hurricane Katrina coverage that won The Sun Herald of Biloxi/Gulfport, Miss., another former employer, a Pulitzer Prize. Lacour is single and lives in NoDa.

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