Walking is supposed to be good for one’s health, but definitely not in the area bounded by Milpas and San Andres, Mission and U.S. 101.
We don’t so much need signs, lights, bulb outs, and crosswalks as we need simple supervision and regulation. Parents, teachers, librarians, and adults in general know that most infractions are obviated with effective supervision and strict enforcement of regulations.
Police and policymakers who do not regularly and significantly walk the city center have no real experiential idea of the menace pedestrians daily face. In fact, police and policymakers often contribute to the situation, both by their traffic habits and by their assumptions regarding walking.
When in 2004 I moved back to Santa Barbara after living and working here from 1976 to 1988, a friend who grew up here told me that in my absence of 12 years, Santa Barbara center traffic had become a danger to those like her with toddlers. At first I discounted her complaint. I soon learned the truth.
City center sidewalks are not for bikes and skateboards, nor should pedestrians properly crossing at intersections be menaced by motorists, even those desperate to cut corners, make illegal left turns, and execute right turns on red lights.
Santa Barbara police are in offices, in cars, on crime scenes, or in car chases. Except for
special events, they are not on foot nor even on bikes, not even in the immediate center city.
In past weeks public figures have written about our out-of-control traffic. Our new city council needs to address, not evade, this issue. We have volunteer firefighters, volunteer teachers, volunteer counselors, and volunteer librarians. Why not volunteer traffic monitors/enforcers?
If those charged with these duties cannot or will not fulfill this responsibility, then let’s deputize those who will enforce traffic laws and city ordinances, at least for the city center.
We owe nothing less to Sergio Romero (who was struck and killed in the Milpas Street crosswalk at Ortega Street on October 7) and all of our other traffic victims. Let’s clean up traffic. Let’s do it now.