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Avid cyclist and cycling advocate confident Broadway-Brommer will prevail
Charles Dixon and Santa Cruz is an avid cyclist and cycling advocate who favors having a straight and safe connector between the city and mid-county. But the project that would do that, called the Broadway-Brommer Bike Path, is held up in an appellate court. Yesterday’s blog featured Jean Brocklebank and the Friends of Arana Gulch, a group that’s participating in a lawsuit to stop the $4.2 million project that also would create a series of trails in Arana Gulch from moving forward. A court date has yet to be set. But Street Smarts has been hearing arguments for and against the project. And what I’ve found is that both Dixon and Brocklebank cite environmental concerns for taking the stance they do. Here’s Dixon’s take on the project. Street Smarts: Why is the proposed path important to Santa Cruz, Live Oak and Capitola? Dixon: By providing the first safe, direct, convenient bike route from Capitola and Live Oak to Santa Cruz it will in perpetuity encourage the timid, hurried, reluctant mainstream to get out of their cars and onto their bikes, decreasing traffic, and lessening carbon emissions into the environment. It will provide the city’s citizens and handicapped improved access to the park. SS: The Friends of the Arana Gulch say the project would destroy the federally protected protected tar plant. You say otherwise, why? CD: The bike path has been designed by the city to avoid any existing tar plant areas. Not a single existing tar plant would be harmed in the building of the bike path, and in fact, the bike path would not even come close to any tar plant. The city has legally committed, in the environmental impact report of this project, to provide planned trails that avoid the tar plant, to close existing trails that impact the tar plant, to enforce that closing, and to provide the kind of careful mowing and management of the tar plant that give it the chance to expand rather than shrink in area. If the bike path is not built, none of those things are a legal obligation of the city. If the bike path is built, all those pro-tar plant actions become legal obligations of the city and get funded first -- bottom line. If the bike path is built, the tar plant will be better off. If the bike path is not built, the tar plant will continue its slow decline. SS: How would the path impact pollution areas in the area? CD: Local air pollution will be reduced because less people will be driving their cars. SS: How would it impact bike-pedestrian safety? CD: The existing routes are dangerous and circuitous. Both the Soquel Avenue route and Yacht Harbor route are busy with traffic. Both routes into Santa Cruz include sections without bike lanes that are so narrow that they instruct cyclists to take the lane. Those routes are Soquel Avenue between Branciforte and Ocean inbound, and East Cliff between Murray and Jessie, the portion down the hill right next to the river. Bicycles taking a lane is dangerous and stressful for the cyclist, and aggravating for the motorist. There was one bicycle fatality at Jessie and East Cliff last year. Calling the route through Frederick Street Park a "bike" route is ridiculous because it includes a staircase with 46 steps. Completion of the multiuse path would give bikes the only safe, convenient, direct route between Live Oak and Santa Cruz. SS: Why is it so important to the disabled to have access to this area? CD: This would be the only greenbelt of four that would include access for them. SS: What does the first court ruling, which sided with the city, signify? Are you confident a second ruling will support the proposed project? CD: In November 2007, Justice Paul Burdick, ruled decisively in favor of the city, the Arana Gulch Master Plan and the bike path. In his written decision, he refuted every point raised by those attempting to stop the project. Further, the judge’s decision had been written with a level of thoroughness and care that suggested he anticipated that the bike path opponents would appeal. We are, therefore, confident that his decision will be upheld.