A breath of fresh air
Deputy Mayor Catherine Blakespear’s commentary (Oct. 9, 2015) on improving Encinitas streets is a welcome breath of fresh air. With our splendid climate, it’s a shame that many people never seem to leave home except by car.
For local trips, walking or riding a bicycle is a triple-win: you get exercise, you save gas and wear on your car, and you save the environment.
The community benefits as well. Go to Santa Barbara to see how a bike- and pedestrian-friendly city can be simultaneously inviting, vibrant, and great for business. State Street, their downtown main street, is a thoroughfare bustling with people.
You’ll see why people love to stroll there: the sidewalks are spacious and there are many crosswalks, some mid-block. There are only two car lanes, but traffic flows smoothly because there’s no on-street parking (there’s plenty off-street). There’s a low-cost and frequent shuttle bus. And there are wide bike lanes. Simply put, the street design puts people first, not cars. That’s why you see more people than cars. For businesses, happy window-shopping pedestrians are more likely than stressed drivers to become customers.
Deputy Mayor Blakespear advocates a mode-shift to provide transit choices alongside cars. Shifting to such a people-oriented design doesn’t mean eliminating cars; it just means considering other means of transportation. And it means recognizing that cars are not the always the best option: in many cases, the manifold health and environmental benefits provided by walking or biking far outweigh the detrimental effects of driving. Plus it’s good for business.
James Wang is an Environmental Commissioner for the city of Encinitas. However, the viewpoints expressed above represent his personal views and not those of the commission or the city.