OPINION by KEITH GURNEE
Well the bike lobby may succeed after all. Recognized by many as the most powerful special interest group in the city of San Luis Obispo, they seem to have a stranglehold on the city council as evidenced by the city’s placement of the “Broad Street Bike Boulevard” on their Aug. 15 agenda. The item is 16– dead last on a long agenda.
To schedule this meeting on an item of such importance to the residents of Broad and Chorro streets for a 90-minute discussion during the late wee hours of the evening seems designed to throttle the voices of our neighborhood. Instead, the council should immediately pull this item from their agenda and schedule it for a special meeting at an hour that would encourage maximum attendance.
Lest I be accused of being anti-bike, I’m not. In my earlier years, I was an avid cyclist who never had a problem getting around town.
When I was on the city council in the 1970s, I commuted regularly to city council meetings by bike and I led the charge to get bike racks in the downtown at a time when it had none. When I was the planning director of Morro Bay, I often rode my bike to work and back. I support the bike path improvements along the railroad right-of-way, a bike and pedestrian bridge adjacent to the Monterey railroad bridge, and the Bob Jones City-to-the-Sea trail system. But some of the things being considered today like the Broad Street Bikeway has gone way too far.
How could such a bad idea get so far? Turning our local residential streets into cluttered obstacle courses and eliminating stop signs and on-street parking deserves far more consideration than one late-night hearing. Consider the following:
1. Back in the 1990s, the city installed a number of unsightly and unsafe “traffic calming” features on Chorro Street, only to remove them a short time later in response to accidents and neighborhood complaints. Why would the city want to do that again?
2. Removing some of the long-standing stop signs that have been able to control speeds on Broad and Chorro streets would welcome back unsafe speeders to our neighborhood.
3. Wouldn’t converting Broad and Chorro streets to one-way streets hinder our emergency responders from the North Chorro fire station who regularly use these routes to respond to emergencies?
4. A review of the city’s 2014 general plan known as the Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE) reveals that it never anticipated turning Broad/Chorro Street corridors into a one-way couplet, the alternative the city by committee has recommended to the city council. Such a change to our circulation pattern should require an amendment to that general plan.
5. Shouldn’t such a change require review by the planning commission which has yet to be given the opportunity to consider it?
6. Shouldn’t its design as public infrastructure also come under the purview of the city’s architectural review commission?
7. Given the “cons” of each alternative as explicitly stated that the city’s own literature, shouldn’t it trigger further review via an Environmental Impact Report?
8. And what about other cities like Los Angeles and Baltimore who have made similar installations only to remove them due to strong public outcries?
By ignoring the general plan and bypassing other commission and environmental reviews, it is clear that the bike lobby has a direct pipeline to the city council, the completely unnecessary Broad Street Bike Boulevard proposal is a bad idea that will destroy the livability, the character, and the quality of life of what has long been a high-quality neighborhood.
I urge your readers to call the members of the San Luis Obispo City Council and demand a special hearing on this issue that, if approved, will hand in undeserved victory to a narrow but powerful special interest group while trashing our neighborhood, the residents be damned.
Stop the nonsense and just say “NO”!