Yes on Measure D
Keep travel safe for kids and get them off the couch!
By brad kava
On June 7 Santa Cruz voters will have a chance to build something world class that will bring in tourists, cut down pollution and help locals get fit and travel safely.
It will be a 32-mile-long bike, walking and wheelchair path that will wind along stunning beaches, majestic forests and picturesque landscapes between Watsonville and Davenport.
It will attract tourists, as do similar well-traveled paths in Santa Monica, San Diego, Sacramento and hundreds of counties across the country that have converted useless rails to useful, joyful trails. It will be the most non-polluting way to get to schools, jobs and beaches—a genuine green way to travel—and it will be more affordable than the train proposed by No on D supporters.
All you have to do to get started is vote YES on D—the position we enthusiastically support to keep Santa Cruz on the cutting edge of creating a safe and environmentally sound community.
Two problems it will definitely solve:
- It will get kids off the couch and away from their screens in the fight against one of the biggest problems parents face today, childhood obesity (not to mention their own lack of exercise.) What could be a more glorious way for a family to spend a day than biking through the Watsonville Slough or along the Davenport coast? What better way to get to downtown street fairs the redwood forests or to our heavenly beaches? Sitting on the couch isn’t helping anyone.
- It will encourage more people of all ages and abilities to get out in nature, safely. The streets of Santa Cruz County are miserable and treacherous for bicyclists. Despite some efforts to build bike lanes we have some of the highest rates of pedestrian and bike injuries and deaths in the state. The roads are filled with potholes and cracks and there isn’t enough separation between motor vehicles and bikes.
According to the Lookout Santa Cruz news site, “In 2018, the most recent year for which data is available, the county ranked fourth in such fatalities and injuries among counties of similar size, with 52 killed or injured in accidents involving vehicles.” Statewide, 28 percent of road fatalities involved cyclists and cars.
Is that a statistic you want for families, 52 injuries and deaths? We can save lives right now.
This campaign has been the most negative in the county in decades with big money supporting deception about the bike path, which contributors to the train will profit from. Ironically, they call the yes side deceptive.
But their arguments defy logic. They claim a train along a one-track route will miraculously cure traffic woes on Highway 1. Anyone who has commuted on that road knows that most of the traffic jam continues on up Highway 17 because most of the drivers are going to work in Silicon Valley.
If they proposed a train over the hill as we had last century, we would be all for it, because that would solve the biggest part of the problem. But poor planners let that go for reasons few understand today.
The two rail lines aren’t comparable. The beach front 32-miles doesn’t go to shopping, schools, downtown or the county’s biggest employers, UCSC and the County itself. For most things you would need to transfer to a bus, which defies the purpose of a train. You’ll still be tied up in traffic.
You might as well take the bus now, although too few do. Taking a train to somewhere you need buses will just continue to tie up traffic.
No one has answered where they would put stations or parking for the stations in areas that are already crammed full.
Can you honestly say you will take a train every day to work or school, for errands and shopping? If so, then vote No and hopefully, someday, you will see a train. But if you aren’t taking a bus now, it’s unlikely you will take a train for anything more than an occasional novelty.
They also say that their train comes with a bike path. That’s true in part. However, it’s a very thin path with all the aesthetics of a fenced-in prison yard. It’s more like the paths on West and East Cliff drives, which are hazardous because they don’t have enough room for speeding bikes, wheel chairs and strolling pedestrians.
The only way to make a safe 32-mile path is to cover the tracks for now in a process called railbanking and in the future if the County explodes with enough jobs and housing to support an off-the-beaten path mass transit, they can replace the path with tracks, as has been done at least nine times nationwide. That’s part of the deal if you vote Yes.
Not to mention some 20 trestles and crossings that are a century out of date. They will not only take hundreds of millions of dollars to fix, but there is no room for an adjacent bike path. Riders, wheelchairs and walkers will have to get off the path in Capitola, for example, and navigate their way around streets crowded with tourists. That is not a safe path, by any stretch of the imagination.
The costs of a rail and trail are unimaginable—in the range of a billion dollars –in a county that can’t even fix potholes or make streets safe (Has anyone biked on the hill from Rio Del Mar along the beach side? It’s a death trap, as are too many of our roads.)
If you follow the money, you will see it leads to companies that want to increase profits, not to folks who want safe, free transport. The last county-approved rail line, Progressive, stacked propane tankers in Watsonville, while promising clean transport. They pulled out when they realized there was no money in it.
The County has already shown it can do the right thing by building a path through Arana Gulch, which was fought over for 20 years and is now one of the great places for families to exercise, picnic and enjoy nature.
By taking a step backward and for the first time favoring non-motorized transportation, Santa Cruz could take a very big leap forward.