Letter From Ojai: Keep the US Moving Blog for January 22, 2020

This blog is a collaboration between the National Motorists Association and the Keep the US Moving (KUSM) group written and curated by NMA Communications Director Shelia Dunn (with some guest authors as indicated). The KUSM weekly blog focuses on road diets, traffic calming and programs such as Vision Zero and Complete Streets.  

The NMA and the KUSM believe that it is important to include stories that oppose our viewpoint. We try to indicate those as needed.

We love to hear from you about the Keep the US Moving Blog. Please feel free to comment below the post and find additional resources to fight road diets below. If you are concerned about any of these issues in your local area, please contact the NMA, nma@motorists.org or Connect with KUSM at KeepTheUSMoving@gmail.com and find additional information on their website at https://www.keeptheusmoving.com/.

Starting off today’s blog, I am presenting a great letter-to-the-editor of the Pacific Coast Business Times written by road diet activist Jeffrey Weinstein from Ojai, California. For several years, Jeffrey has been advocating against two road diets in Ventura County and I had the opportunity to meet him at the October 2019 KeepLAMoving Conference.

He has written numerous letters to various publications and has appeared before his town’s council several times concerning the proposed inflexible road diets. Stopping inflexible road diets in mountain towns is critically in making sure everyone has a safe and speedy evacuation route in the event of a town emergency such as forest fire or earthquake. We all remember the Paradise Fire in 2018—more than 80 people lost their lives because they could not get out of town fast enough due a very fast moving forest fire and a road diet on the main road in and out of town.

Here is Jeffrey’s letter:

Having recently read in the 12/20-26/2019 Pacific Coast Business Times that the Tri-Counties region will require “at least $1 billion per year in transportation infrastructure improvements” during the next 25 years, and that Ventura County (my home) needs $16.5 billion in upgrades to highways, roads and public transportation just to “keep up with the expected demand”, makes me wonder why Caltrans is planning to eliminate vehicle lanes in both directions of Highway 33 through the commercial corridor of Oak View and along Maricopa Hwy in Ojai, home to the Von’s Shopping Center, Ojai Valley Community Hospital, and Nordhoff High School.   

The proposed plan seeks to replace vehicular lanes with bicycle lanes (“active transportation” project, also called “road diet”, “lane reduction” and “Vison Zero”), as if anyone hoping to evacuate the Ojai Valley due to wildfires (remember the Thomas Fire) will be riding their bike, not to mention the many 100’s of emergency vehicles and SCE trucks that descended upon our small out of the way town in December 2017.   

I have no problems whatsoever adding sidewalks, bicycle lanes and lighted crosswalks, creating and enhancing pedestrian and bicycle safety (I walk and ride my bike nearly every day), making our communities more attractive and hospitable, but not at the expense of motorists by making travel more difficult and time-consuming to/from Ojai, harming our economy and personal lives.   

The overwhelming majority of persons use their cars or public transportation to work, shop and play, not to mention those that are too young, too old, poor, sick and/or disabled.  

The article goes on to say “Connecting communities is really our focus with active transportation”, but in reality these kinds of projects which replace vehicle with bicycle lanes cause gridlock (visit anyplace in LA where lane reduction has occurred), vehement community opposition, delay emergency response times, and counterintuitively, increase pedestrian deaths (please see 11/22/2019 issue of CityLabDaily, “Hindsight 2020” about LA Vision Zero traffic fatalities).     


KUSM needs several research volunteers

The Keep the US Moving group is looking for volunteers to help with several projects. We need people to commit several hours a week to help with research. If you have the time and commitment, please contact Shelia at nma@motorists.org.

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Check out the NMA Facebook Page called the War on Cars Watch! If you are interested in joining the closed group, follow the directions on the page. If you would like to know more about the National Motorists Association, check out our website at motorists.org. Also, if you would like to contact the NMA with a question or a link to an article about this topic or have a video of a road diet in your neck of the woods, feel free to contact us via email at nma@motorists.org.

Keep the US Moving is a grassroots organization dedicated to publicizing the detrimental effects of arterials road diets. We connect people who want to share experiences and information in order to help their communities craft truly safer roads. KUSM has a very active and closed Facebook group. Connect with them at KeepTheUSMoving@gmail.com and find additional information on their website at https://www.keeptheusmoving.com/.

Here are a few NMA Blog Posts that might interest you:

Road Diets and Traffic Calming

Vision Zero and Complete Streets

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