Transportation policies must bolster our economy

By George Hague

Glenn Holstein (“Free Parking is No Myth”) makes an excellent point in his May 4 op-ed piece.

While the lifeblood of a community’s economic viability depends on the movement of goods and people, the city of Davis had chosen to build its transportation policy around environmental concerns at the expense of the movement of goods and people. In the recent Transportation Element to the General Plan, it describes as “acceptable” the “failed” intersection of Olive Drive and Richards Boulevard. One can only guess that’s because choking off traffic to downtown is the intended outcome of its policies. Never mind the consequences to economic interests.
Shortly after the unsupported ideas in the Transportation Element were submitted, a group of business people including the Chamber of Commerce proposed a creative reconfiguration of the intersection, which demonstrated that failure need not be accepted. Their effort effectively separates pedestrian, bicycle and vehicular traffic and would facilitate traffic flow.
A visit to downtown Davis on a busy spring evening reveals a healthy amount pedestrian traffic largely composed of young people. None of them, however, are carrying shopping bags with purchases from local business. The restaurants are serving, the movies are playing and they sell a book or two at The Avid Reader. But in a town hosting 35,000 students and faculty in a world-class research university you can’t buy a computer. If you are making a presentation at the university, you can’t find a place in Davis to buy a suit and tie.
In a town trying to attract business that can build on synergies with the university, the mass transit system is literally of the students, by the students and for the students as if no one else lived or worked here. So if the executives at FMC Schilling want to take a group out to lunch or dinner, they must go downtown in several personal cars and spend their lunchtime searching for parking. No bus services their location on Second Street. It does, however, routinely pick up large amounts of students from the Target location a mile away.

In all the discussion of building innovation parks. no one has mentioned how they will be serviced by a transportation policy designed to choke off traffic to and from downtown, and a transit system that does not serve business.
It is also true, as Holstein reports, that the city staff stacks the deck when constructing so-called advisory committees. Holstein reports that he is disabled. Many of us are, but Davis eliminated an ADA Advisory Committee it used to have. When the Parking Task Force initially presented its recommendations, it was clear from their work that there were no disabled members on the task force.

Similarly, initial presentations of the Transportation Element contained not one reference to compliance with the ADA. These are just a few examples of a terribly failed transportation policy that over-weights bicycle interests and forces others to scream for attention. It’s a policy that eventually will eviscerate the economy of Davis.

— George Hague is a Davis resident.

Special to The Enterprise

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