By Eris Weaver, executive director, Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition
The special meeting that has been called for tomorrow (1/12) to reconsider the restriping of Broadway is a travesty and a blow to local democracy.
This meeting was only noticed this morning, and an agenda has not yet been posted as of 1:00 pm this afternoon. Why are you calling a special meeting to reconsider something that you have already considered, reconsidered, and reconsidered yet again? What kind of backdoor dealing is going on?
As far as I can tell, there has been no new information revealed (to the public) to support revisiting the decision. I can only assume that the reason this meeting is being called is that residents who oppose the project have been hammering you ever since the August vote. The resistance of some residents to change is not enough reason to undo what is a safe and forward-looking improvement plan that will provide benefits to everyone who travels Broadway – except, perhaps, those who want to drive as fast as they want and arrive at their destination as quickly as possible, other people’s safety be damned.
It is particularly alarming that some of you are citing safety for cyclists as an objection to the plan, when we and other cycling activists have steadily supported it all along. The bulb-outs, an accommodation for pedestrians, are not a problem for cyclists. I suspect that the real objection is the loss of parking. Are people so much more concerned about a few parking spaces than they are about the safety of children and adults crossing the street or riding a bike? What about the Climate Emergency Resolution you signed over a year ago? Reducing greenhouse gas emissions requires getting people out of cars and onto bikes, buses, and their own two feet. Fewer people driving cars = fewer cars needing to be parked!
One of the arguments frequently made by those opposed to improved bicycle infrastructure is that getting rid of parking spaces, no matter how few, will somehow kill local businesses. This does not bear out; numerous studies show that retailers and restaurants on walkable, bikeable streets do MORE business! Look at the plethora of people walking and bicycling from shop to shop around the Plaza. Why wouldn’t you want this for Broadway?
Making it safer to cross and travel along Broadway would also allow more high school and middle school students to walk or ride to school…which would further reduce traffic on the road as fewer students are driven there. The parking-protected bike lanes called for in the plan will be a first in Sonoma County and a shining example to other jurisdictions as they update their bicycle and pedestrian plans.
Please, do the right thing rather than the popular thing, and leave this striping plan in place