Here is how things look to a young BATWG activist:
I believe to get bay area residents out of their cars, we need good public transit, a network of safe bicycle/e-scooter trails and more safety for pedestrians.
I think good public transit is a must, but the bay area has a unique challenge because it was built out with low density developments. Frequent service for mass transit needs high density developments for both housing and office space so that ridership can be high enough to make the dense network of stations and routes that run frequently economically viable. We don’t have that and there is also little support for high density developments … and that is where bikes and e-scooters etc. … come in. In essence, e-scooters and bikes turn low density developments into places with higher “effective density” since they increase a person’s non-automotive range.
I also think there is a lot of diversity in people’s preferences. Some won’t bike but will use transit and some are the other way round … and some need both. I see that because the bike racks on the Dumbarton Express bus are always full. The important thing is that there are many people looking for ways to escape “car-mageddon”. However, we need to make the alternatives safe, convenient and enjoyable.
I think pedestrian needs are probably the most neglected. Walking in our area and in much of the rest of the Bay Area is incredibly scary and the rate of pedestrian fatalities is high.
So in my mind, the unique solution for the unique challenges of the bay area is to focus on improving key public transit lines and focusing on getting frequent and reliable service on those key lines, even if that means shutting down low ridership routes to redirect resources. These well functioning transit lines should then be served by a safe high quality network of physically separated bikes/e-scooters lanes, which shrink the spaces in-between. Often this space can be made available by making car lanes narrower, or removing lanes, or in some cases removing medians. Wherever possible, pedestrians should have sidewalks that protect them from bikes and scooters. These tri-modal streets should serve transit stops but also directly connect office parks with nearby residential developments … and provide safe routes to school. I also think, such a solution could be phased in incrementally, which would hopefully also make it politically more viable.
This article was featured in Newsletter Issue 9. Click here to go back to the newsletter.