The Morning Report
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We were having so much fun on Tuesday that I’m back for another round of discussion. Hope you will continue to send in such great comments!
One of the threads that jumped out on Tuesday was the need for ‘serious action’ (KAWE) ‘widespread desire for change’ (Thom, and changing the ‘government … suffer from a failure of imagination’ (Kate S).
I say, ‘amen!’ Now, for all you elected officials reading today, don’t get me wrong. Some of you are really stepping up to the plate to support bicycling – thank you County Supervisor Greg Cox, San Diego Councilman Scott Peters, and Coronado Councilmember Phil Monroe, for being three good examples! The entire City of Oceanside Council has been very supportive of bicycling lately, and I know that the League of American Bicyclists will be taking a hard look at making Oceanside the first city in the county to receive a ‘Bicycle Friendly Community’ designation.
But I’m almost afraid to list you here because I know you’ll get heat from folks like the local news editorial boards, and from radio talk show hosts who have nothing better to do than mock bicyclists. It’s not easy to be taken seriously in this county when you talk about getting people out of their cars.
And it’s not just our elected officials. There are darn few transportation departments in this region that really take bicycling seriously. It’s entrenched in the bureaucracy that the goal of the transportation system is to get the most cars through in the least amount of time. Too bad if there’s no room left for bicyclists or pedestrians. I’m not saying that we have to totally ignore the automobile or traffic congestion. But too many times we pick the option that is best for motorists and worst for bicyclists, when we could be picking the option that is ‘not so bad’ for motorists and best for bicyclists.
I think that the confluence of high gas prices, the twin health epidemics of diabetes and obesity, and the coming regulation of greenhouse gases are providing a new urgency to changing the way we get around, and changing people’s attitudes about bicycling. But the comments here are right n unless we have both a groundswell of public opinion and strong leadership from our elected officials, this historic opportunity is going to pass us by as we continue to do the same old same old thing.
We’ve got a chance to get it right. Some of our elected officials are already stepping up and supporting things like the Active Transportation Campaign, and working with local transportation policy to make sure bicyclists are included in all our transportation decisions. But fighting bureaucracy and the ‘but we’ve always done it that way!’ mentality is tough. Especially in San Diego where we seem to be distracted and bogged down in so many issues (see Lee Burdick’s discussion of Lindberg Field yesterday). I’ll be interested to hear your comments about how we can change the whole mindset in the County, or if it is even possible to do so.
And for those of you who are thinking it’s all a bit depressing, let’s talk about the great things that are happening for bicycling and bicyclists in San Diego next (there really is some good stuff out there!)