Editor, Santa Barbara News Press
RE: Local traffic plans conspire to get people out of their cars
Tom Becker's letter concerning local traffic plans misrepresents the facts.
If people took the time to examine the plans (Becker assumes correctly that most of you won't), you couldn't find the alternative transportation takeover he warns of.
Cars still get the overwhelming majority of the funding and subsidies (95% or so). The traffic plans continue to accommodate car users in fine style, as they will for the foreseeable future. The plans attempt to make POSSIBLE use of bicycles or public transport. Non-drivers form about 30% of the population: kids, seniors, handicapped people, poor people, and health-minded people such as my family, who could drive everywhere but elect not to. In a world of large steps in the opposite direction, the plans are a small step toward a South Coast where non-drivers have mobility and drivers have transportation choice.
Becker's rant is that of a nearly complete victor wanting to stamp out the tiny spark of life left in transportation alternatives. But consider: How would children safely get to school? What about those old folks on their three wheelers trying to have the independent movement that he guards so jealously? What about Becker himself, if he ages or is injured and can't drive anymore? A community where it is possible to walk or ride on the streets is good for everybody; less traffic, noise and air pollution.
Bicycle trips don't even have funding proportional to their numbers (6% of total trips). ALL the missing segments of the South Coast bikeway network could be built for the cost of expanding ONE freeway interchange; about 6 million dollars. While Becker frets that he may spend 45 extra seconds on this interchange because his preferred transport mode got 95% of the money instead of 100%, I'm worried that my family might get killed because the streets of Santa Barbara, which used to belong 100% to pedestrians, equestrians and bicyclists, are taken over by cars and policies driven by complete insensitivity to anyone else's transportation needs.
(SBNP-you have a photo on file of my daughter and me on a bike in front of the Castillo underpass which appeared top of the fold, front page a few years back, I think it was a Sunday or Thanksgiving issue or something.)
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