CHARLOTTE (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — It’s hard not to drool when seeing all the cakes and the pastries at Manolo’s Latin Bakery.
“If you want to see the world, just come to Central Avenue,” said owner Manolo Betancur.
But what makes the bakery so special is the connection that Betancur makes with everyone who comes in.
“I have seen people, and they say, ‘I’ve been in Charlotte for 25 years, and this is my first time on Central Avenue,’” said Betancur.
His bakery has been off Central Avenue for the last 25 years. He said he’s made it a destination that many have to drive to.
“It’s crazy how people drive, man. People don’t pay attention to the lights, people just shoot their car through,” said Betancur.
“I’ve been working on connectivity for East to West for 10 years,” said Maureen Gilewski.
Gilewski is with “CharlotteEAST,” a community advocacy group. She said it’s time that east Charlotte was connected to the rest of the city through bike lanes and sidewalks.
She said there are some bike lanes in east Charlotte, but they aren’t safe.
“The other thing, such as the bike lanes, they’ve been sort of squeezed in. Sidewalks, some of them are newer and wider and some of them are in bad repair, and they’re very narrow and they’re right up against the road. I’ll tell you walking up and down Eastway is a like a horror, with the cars whizzing by,” said Gilewski.
The group is conducting a survey of people living in east Charlotte. Gilewski said it’ll be a handful of questions focused on where they’d like to be connected to and the reasons why they don’t ride or walk.
“You’ve got to have either a reasonable walk or bike ride, or some safe efficient way to connect. It all has to connect,” said Gilewski.
Betancur said he sometimes bikes to work, and it can be a difficult commute.
“We are so far away from where we need to be,” said Betancur.
Betancur said good food is a way of bringing everyone together. So, why shouldn’t people want to connect with east Charlotte?
“This is the magic of east Charlotte,” said Betancur. “You always feel like you are welcome in this city, and you are welcome on this side of town.”
Gilewski said the survey should be out soon. She said they will focus on putting it out in bike shops and in areas in east Charlotte where people tend to walk to.