To: Editor of the Nexus
Re: Activities and findings of the Highway 217 (Ward Memorial Highway) Review Committee
Any comprehensive review of UCSB/larger community transportation issues must include study of bikepaths, bicycling facilities, and bicycling habits, with maintaining/increasing the viability and attractiveness of bicycling in general and the car-free student life in particular as essential goals.
UCSB lies astride the closest thing to a South Coast bikeway arterialthe 101 freeway for bikes.. The most direct route through the UCSB labyrinth is convoluted and poorly signed.
As other routes become more degraded and unappealing, UCSB has become one of the most attractive bicycle commutes left. Combine this with the size of the student population and the fact that UCSB is the areas largest employer, and UCSB is clearly the center of gravity for bicycle commuting on the South Coast. This makes proposals such as the recent one to exclude bikes from campus especially alarming.
The UCSB administration seems oblivious to it's vital role as host to by far the largest surviving population of a highly endangered populationfree living humans (humans who achieve mobility at spectacularly low economic and environmental cost through ordinary metabolic function, and not through parasitism by invasive, exotic automobiles which consume hundreds of times the calories as well as crowding and fouling the habitat) .
This endangered remnant population, which is the only one left on the South Coast must be nourished at all cost, 1) as an important reserve of biological diversity for future generations 2) as an incubator for possible re-population of degraded historical habitat in other parts of the South Coast and students' habitats of origin, should environmental conditions improve (City College and area high schools are possible candidates) 3) for scientific study (habitat restoration and re-establishment of free living humans in other parts of their historic range would seem to be an ideal study for the graduate program in environmental science and management) , and 4) because if they should lose this free-living ability en masse the environmental impact of a few thousands more cars on top of all the others would be catastrophic for the larger ecosystem, producing such severe degradation that even humans who move through the environment only encysted in cars would be adversely affected.
Following are some ideas to reverse the slide:
1) Declare car-free students an endangered population and institute suitable protections; review of all new and existing policies, construction, etc. for its impacts. Abandon permanently schemes to exclude bikes from campus, guaranteeing for the future their faster door-to-door commute times which are the foundation for their popularity. The air pollution control district may be a source for addition funding; they prioritize funding for programs based on their cost per pound of pollutants removed. Each car-free Santa Barbaran is probably worth several hundred dollars a year based average costs for pollution reduction.
2) Put some signs up so neophyte through traffic can make it through the campus labyrinth without getting totally lost. Work towards a more direct cross-campus routes and less screwball inter-campus pathways (their current layout can only be part of a sinister plot to make bicycling less viable and thus easier to ban).
3) Fund the transportation alternatives program to insert propaganda in student packets returning students get, as well as distributing copies available in key locations. Some possible themes to hit on:
"Healthy is Sexyride a bike!" enumerating health benefits and driving the point home with a shot of Coeds turning their backs on a chunky guy in a red convertible to talk to a glistening hunk on a clunky old cruiser....
"Real environmentalists don't own cars"the easiest was to reduce your environmental impact 80%. You could save this one to deploy against the time when/if fashion shifts from green veneered SUV to deep green.
"Happiness is discretionary incomelose your car and ride a bike" shine a bright light on the dark secret of true car costs (AAA is a great source for these numbers-$0.44 a mile/$6600 a year average last I looked, though UCSB numbers are probably lower due shorter commute) and comparing the cost of a bicycle/public transport lifestyle. This could finish with a list of ideas for things you could do with the money saved in four or eight years of car-free student hoodlike graduate debt-free, seed capital for your own internet startup, down payment on a house, outfit your own recording studio or desktop publishing enterprise, or travel around the world for a few years (that's what I did with my own car-free student windfall).
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