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Capitola needs more sidewalks for pedestrian safety, reader says
Dear Street Smarts, Q: I love your column. As a recent transplant to the area it has helped me understand some of the local concerns and I think it facilitates our community's ability to stay safe on the roads. There have been a lot of discussions about pedestrian safety in your column recently and I have a few comments and questions on the subject. The inconsistent sidewalks are such a challenge. One particularly challenging situation is where a sidewalk exists but will suddenly end mid-street with no sidewalk ramp. This is especially difficult for people pushing strollers, and I would imagine impossible for the handicapped. This seems to occur all over Capitola with the worst offender -- in my opinion -- being on Hill street as you head up away from Bay. As you turn the bend the sidewalk ends abruptly and steeply and I often struggle to get my stroller off the curb, sometimes coming perilously close to traffic. Would the city consider putting a ramp here to make it easier to traverse? An even better solution might be to transform the bike lanes on some of these streets into sidewalks and implement more sharrows. Some of these streets are narrow and the speed limit low that sharrows would be completely acceptable and would improve the safety for pedestrians tremendously. In any case, it would be helpful to know what the city and county's plans are for improving sidewalks and pedestrian safety. Another area of concern is bicycle safety. As someone who bikes and drives, I think that bike safety starts with the cyclist. It is difficult for drivers to safely share the road when they cannot reasonably predict cyclists' actions because of cyclists who don't generally adhere to basic rules of the road. Despite a recent survey that indicated an improvement in cyclist adherence to traffic laws, I rarely see it. Do the local police have any plans to enforce road rules for cyclists? Perhaps, the fear of a citation will encourage cyclists to stop at stop signs, ride on the correct side of the road, and not ride on sidewalks, as the fear of an accident or injury certainly has not. Thanks! Ariel Gray, Capitola A: Welcome to Santa Cruz County. Glad Street Smarts is helping you navigate the lay of the land As to your question, the lack of sidewalks is something each jurisdiction the county is working on, as funding sources are identified. In Capitola, "Gaps in the sidewalk system are something we continually look at and try to correct," said Steve Jesberg, public works director. "Obviously, funding for this work is difficult to obtain, especially when it involves right of way purchases as it would on Hill Street. The city has mapped the sidewalks and identified these gaps and will strive to fulfill them as funding allows." As for your question about whether the police cite cyclists, yes, officers do. In fact, there is a Bike Traffic School in which riders who are cited can enroll. The school also is available to members of the public who would like to learn the rules of the road as they pertain to cycling. Learn more about it at http://www.sctrafficsafety.org/BikeTrafficSchool.htm.