New Year Editor's Note
BY BRAd kava
Can we make the new normal better? That’s our goal for 2021, to take what we’ve learned during the long shelter-in-place directive and save some of the best things for the new year.
Those include more board games and less video games; more walks and fewer drives; more socializing with neighbors; more time spent looking over homework and school work; more time to slow down and quit running around like an Uber service.
One thing we’ve learned is that the county’s bike lanes aren’t safe. We’ve spent more time cruising on two wheels than ever and now we are really worried about what happens when kids go back to school and smash their bikes into ubiquitous potholes and road crack.
An article in the current issue by Supervisor Zach Friend notes that our county is fifth worst in the state for bike collisions. No wonder, when the bike lanes look like obstacle course and bikes have to pull out into the roadway.
Once upon a couple of decades ago, Santa Cruz looked like it was in the cutting edge of bike safety with marked lanes for bikes, something that few other states had. Now, through neglect and lack of financing, those lanes are like a minefield.
In his County Scoop column, Friend notes there is funding for two new bike and pedestrian bridges and five miles of buffered lanes along Soquel Drive. Yay. That’s great news. But it’s just a start. There’s no reason with tens of thousands of students in town, we can’t do more to protect them.
Sometimes it just takes riding the roadways on two wheels to realize what a crisis we have here and how much better we can be doing. Have you traveled in the Netherlands? Bikes there are treated like the top mode of transit. You will even see students riding on two wheels to their prom in tuxedos and evening dresses.
There are so many reasons to get out and bike, not the least of which is that it helps save the environment. And now, even older people or those who can’t negotiate an unpowered bike, can buy E-bikes and make them serious commuting vehicles most of the year.
Some bikers reported that Department of Public Works head Matt Machado has responded to urgent problems, such as a big crack on the hill at Rio del Mar, near the area where one rider recently died when he lost control of his bike. You can file a report with Machado by searching for the Public Works page or linking to it via the My Santa Cruz County App, available at all your app stores.
You can also use your camera or GoPro and send them here ([email protected]), where GUISC is compiling a list of the most dangerous streets to see if we can spur some action. The videos really paint a picture of how bad and dangerous our roads are. If we show them the problem, we hope officials will find more money to help fix it.
Other issues in this new year’s GUISC include an article showing what local schools are doing to keep students safe for in-class lessons during the pandemic.
On the positive side, we have a great feature on a new Eco-teaching boat tour through Elkhorn Slough. What a great thing to do as a family. We have good reason to worry about one of the most beautiful local pieces of nature, our orange and black Monarch butterflies. Their numbers have been dismal this year and they are on the verge of being an endangered species. What can you do? Our experts will tell you.
Can a pandemic be the right time to have a baby? Writer and mother Ashley Carone says, yes. Read her article to see why.
Let’s hope our vision for 2021 isn’t just better than the misnamed and muck-laden 2020, but that we figure ways to come back from a tragedy with brilliant and inspiring new ideas.
Thanks for reading.
Brad Kava, Jennifer Ford
and Steve Dinnen