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Letter to the Editor: ‘Zero Vision’ Policy for Santa Barbara a Public Relations Ploy

Mayor and Council
City of Santa Barbara

Re: Item 16. Subject: Report On "Vision Zero" to Reduce Injuries and Fatalities to Zero on City Streets (530.01)

Zero Vision is a great public relations ploy, but critical review of their objectives makes little sense in a modern urban society vs. what was visioned 30 years ago.

Significant advantages to the public have been provided with a modern traffic grid and vehicle technology enhances quality of life and the economic viability of this or any community. The destruction of core transportation routes (efficiently moving traffic), increasing street congestion, and higher frustrations and pollution is not rational. Core routes, dramatically impacted by Zero Vision planning, will increase dangers to bicyclists and pedestrians.

These positions intentionally ignore significant advances in vehicle technology. Advances have occurred in a short 30 years. Auto safety is light years beyond 30-year-old technology. Superior breaking, the modern tire and improved suspensions all increase control and steering, and let's not forget backup alerts and cameras. It makes a 1980s auto look like a horse and buggy. Currently being tested are self-driving cars, radar/infrared object detection, driver sobriety detection or inattention to the road. Most of this will be in production in the next two to three years or 10 years at the most.

There will be significant negative long-term impacts on bus travel. Currently MTD is faced with delayed headway times impacting its capability to move passengers. The speeds projected by Zero Vision are impossible to enforce and still have MTD or other bus/shuttle providers meet schedules hurting performance ratings.

What is missing with the anti-car approach is emphasis on pedestrian education and self responsibility. It used to be taught from elementary school through junior high school that pedestrian safety and bike safety rest heavily on their judgment (particularly with the young, impulse trumps thought).

The rule was, when walking across an intersection, stop, look and proceed with caution. Today we see arrogant disregard for these basics, with students and adults walking into a street without a pause. Often these are proponents of this agenda item. Similar rules are ignored by bicyclists. There are the bike riders routinely riding in primary heavy commute corridors, ride through stop signs and stop lights, or ride dangerously in traffic lanes with safe passage to the right.

It is seen every day, increasing numbers of walkers who are engrossed with their "smart" phones (texting, talking, emails) and not being aware of their surroundings. Then there are the "WUI" Walking Under the Influence, drunks or other substances and jaywalking that makes these people accidents waiting to happen.

Reduction of accidents is a rational goal for all of us. Destruction of traffic flow, and creation of intentional obstructions ignores good policy and safety.

Scott Wenz, president
Cars Are Basic

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