The Silicon Valley Voice

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Milestones: Right of Way

Driving the Amalfi Coast highway makes a Big Sur excursion seem like Highway 5 by comparison.

While the Monterey peninsula has some spectacular scenery, the views from nearly every turn on the Amalfi provide vistas that are truly awesome.

And, while the views are everything reported, you must appreciate what California has built for highways in years past.

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While our lack of road repair is now catching up with us in the Golden State, we remain a bit ahead of our Italian relatives.

The idea of creating a road diet for bicycles anywhere on the Amalfi would be more than humorous. Even pedestrians, usually tourists, are a rare breed, probably for several reasons.

Which jogs my thinking about the money we have spent in Santa Clara for bicycle lanes at the expense of taxpayers.

It just seems that true taxpayers are getting the short stick when it comes to the highest and best use of our streets and roads.

Think about it. Ninety nine percent of car owners pay registration fees, driver license fees, bridge tolls, highway tolls and gas taxes all for improved highway access.

However, the small minority of bike riders pay none of these taxes yet are being given street lanes of their own to ride their bikes.

What’s next. Lanes for roller skaters?

We have been duped into the believing that road diets are necessary for the safety of bike riders and add to the greening of our planet.

Yes, and there are also people who believe in the New Green Deal and we will be taking electric buses to Europe in the next decade.

If you can buy into this fabrication of either, let me recommend a good shrink.

In the meantime, we need to return our streets to the people who pay for them.

Enough of this goody-goody mentality that adds to the very problem our politicians are pretending to solve.

We have a traffic problem that is exacerbated by narrowing our streets for bike riders. Bikers, we have no problem with you and honestly, you are riding on a street that was designed for cars. Where did we get this crazy idea that bike riders are entitled to their own space on our tax-paid-for streets?

If you are one of those people who thinks that the planet is going to be dead in twelve years, please make the remaining time a bit more enjoyable for the rest of the population and ride your bike at your own risk on my car-intended, tax-paid-for roads.

Now, the latest analysis for El Camino is a continuation of the Grand Boulevard concept with a few twists. Remember, logical thinking people loudly objected to creating dedicated bus lanes and eliminating two car lanes.

The traffic people, who haven’t fixed anything yet that works, want to eliminate parking on the El Camino.

You want to complicate or eliminate the business activity of 100 store front businesses?

Was this idea brought to us by the same people who created street diets for bikers?

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2 Comments
  1. Chris Howden 3 weeks ago
    Reply

    Dear Mr. Barber

    Over the past few years I have skimmed through your moronic commentary as a source of comic relief. I like to support local businesses, including newspapers, so I have always tried to be understanding, even though I could never quite figure out how the publisher of a local paper was barely able to write at a third-grade level. Have you ever heard of paragraphs? Unfortunately, your most recent opinion is not only inaccurate, it is reckless and dangerous, and I feel it must be addressed.

    I live in Santa Clara. I am a bicyclist, a pedestrian, and an automobile driver. I know when it is appropriate to use these different modes of transportation. I know the costs (both to me and to the community) of driving a car, and I know the costs of riding a bike. As it turns out, biking is the most efficient way to get around town, so I do this whenever I can.

    In your article, you are trying to make the argument that all of our public spaces, (i.e. streets and roads), are solely the domain of automobiles (typically single occupant automobiles). In fact, cars are a colossal waste of space. They pollute our air, they are dangerous, and they have enormous costs. The “highest and best use of our streets” are for people, not cars. In our community, we make decisions about how we want to use our public spaces by voting in our democratic processes. Unfortunately, for too long, the automotive and oil industries have convinced people like you that cars have some sort of divine right over our environment. This is completely wrong.

    If the people of this city wisely decide that they want to move away from single occupant automobiles, and toward bicycling, walking, and transit, then that is what we will do. In order to accomplish this, we must protect our bicyclists and pedestrians (many of whom are children trying to get to school) from the cars that currently take up the vast majority of space. These cars are now driven, much of the time, by drivers who have a phone in one of their hands. To protect our children, bicyclists and walkers, we must remove lanes of automobile traffic, and create safe, protected bike lanes, sidewalks, and other public spaces. We need to throw in more trees and public art while we are at it. This will all help to clean our air, and end our epidemic of obesity, heart disease, and other health problems.

    Cars pollute our air, degrade our infrastructure (roads and streets), and kill and injure people and animals. In fact, the mayor of San Jose was struck by a car and almost killed a few months ago while he was riding his bike. Bicycles and pedestrians do not typically pollute or kill. That is why we do not tax bicyclists, nor do we charge them a fee for using the roads. We all pay our taxes. We all get to share the space. Car drivers (and I am one of them) get to pay more (much more) because of their undue use of space, and the damage to our environment and our health.

    Another reason why bicyclists are not licensed, it that, as the saying goes, it is as easy as riding a bike. For every one time I observe a bicyclist breaking a rule of the road, I have seen a thousand drivers break the law. In fact, opinions like yours embolden drivers to ignore the rights of bicyclists and pedestrians. I feel that this is completely irresponsible on your part.

    I would love the opportunity to take you for a bike ride around Santa Clara sometime. I would also love to teach you how to write paragraphs. I’m available most Saturday mornings. The flat terrain and our perfect weather make bicycling an ideal way to experience our beautiful city. Just like in Amalfi, where the vast majority of people walk instead of driving. Now all we need to do is add more protected bike lanes.

    Regards,

    Chris Howden

    P.S. It is not possible to take an electric bus to Europe.

  2. Allen 2 weeks ago
    Reply

    I have never agreed with Miles but in this case I think he’s right. What a giant investment for so few users. The bike Nazis will have you think that this is Holland, it is not. I can’t imagine there’s even 1% of the commuters ride bicycles in silicon valley. The cars and trucks on the road pay the taxes that the politicians squander. The bike riders feel they’re entitled to their own lane with a protective bubble. With what funds?

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