Santa Cruz prides itself on being a community that is backward in a good way, and takes steps towards sustainability whenever it can. The next among these efforts needs to be the long awaited finale to a long-standing Santa Cruz debate over the construction of a bike boulevard in Santa Cruz, located on King Street.
People Power, a group that has been working for almost twenty years to designate King Street as a place for bikes first and cars second, presented their idea in a special City Council meeting April 21. The establishment of a bike boulevard would promote safety and sustainability on the streets, and it would allow Santa Cruz to take ownership of its reputation as a forward-thinking community, particularly when it comes to alternative transportation efforts.
Although critics of the project fear it would put undue strain on the city’s already depleted budget, in the long run the benefits of the bike boulevard would far out weight its initial costs.
Furthermore, as our country tackles the daunting task of enduring the worst economic downturn in decades, the scene is set for a new order to take over –– one based on environmental consciousness that puts people before profits.
We live in a college community, where the majority of students own two wheels, not four. And long-term residents are just as eager to save money and free themselves from fossil fuels. By building a bike boulevard, the city will give its residents the infrastructural support they need to get out of their cars and onto the pavement.
While there are many public projects that deserve not only funds, but attention, the added benefit of providing a safe route along a busy strip of our city is yet another reason why King Street needs to undergo a remodel.
Our city is already loaded with bicyclists, and the number of pedalers seems to grow every day. We live in a city that constantly pushes for further eco-friendliness. Now we need to put our time, resources, and money where the cyclists are.
Two deaths and one major injury occurred involving bikes and cars last year alone, not to mention the non-fatal accident that occurred at Bay and King Streets on Wednesday. It doesn’t take a large stretch of the imagination to figure out who was harmed in these accidents.
People Power’s proposed ballot measure would give Santa Cruz’s citizens a chance to democratically participate in the decision over King Street, putting the power in their hands to decide which direction the city should go with this project.
It is time that Santa Cruz took substantial actions towards making itself the sustainable mecca it could be. We have the power to set a precedent for future projects locally, throughout the state and across the nation.
The backward nature of Santa Cruz is what makes it progressive, and essentially what makes it uniquely Santa Cruz. It’s time to turn the tables, put bicycles before cars on King Street, and practice the fantastic backwardness we love to preach.