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Feet Don't Fail Me Now.

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Coast News
June 18, 1998


Better a cruel truth than a comfortable delusion. — Edward Abbey

Well sport fans, it seems President Clinton and Congress has given us a gift of infrastructure. This should be seen as both good and bad news. The bad news is that those wishing to develop along Rancho Sante Fe Road can now do so because $2.25 million has been allotted to fund widening the road. This will alleviate current congestion along this east-west commuter link. Sadly though with the widening will come a huge development. San Elijo Ranch will include 3,398 homes, 2 schools, and a 13 acre commercial site. Although this development is within San Marcos city limits, it will severely impact both Encinitas and Carlsbad because Leucadia Blvd. and Olivenhain Road will serve as the feeder roads from Interstate 5.

Also in the bad news category is the $10 million dollar widening of Highway 76 through Oceanside, and the Rancho Del Oro interchange at Highway 78. Now I'm sure some of you are saying, "What, are you crazy? We need these improvements." To that I say we only need these projects if we are planning to stay on this destructive course that will leave us all sitting in traffic for the rest of our lives. Folks it is time we faced the music, this type of Band-Aid growth is a constant game of catch-up, and fails to take the future into consideration. I say it is time we started shifting away from our suicidal relationship with the automobile.

The good news is that Congress has authorized the Oceanside-Escondido passenger rail. Now, that is what I call sensible planning. Despite all the machinations of our short-sighted brethren to the east, read Vista City Council, we are moving forward to a North County no longer dependent of ozone depleting fossil fuels. As hard as this may seem to grasp, human culture once thrived without cars. Just think, when this nation's founding fathers penned "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," they imagined achieving these worthwhile goals without the use of a Ford Explorer.

I would suggest that the automobile robbed us of "life" because the automobile has addicted us to a pace that rarely allows us to go nowhere. Liberty was a nice concept but we are slaves to our own technology. To afford any vehicle a person has to work, this in turn keeps people chained to the industrial/capitalist structure, and away from their families. And as for the pursuit of Happiness, the only thing we are chasing is the all-mighty dollar. The idealist in me envisions a coastal North County devoid of all automobiles, where people go about their business on foot, bicycle, and solar-powered mass transit.

Speaking of pedestrians, I received a letter from one of my readers in Encinitas. At 58 years old, this individual has chose not to drive here in North County. Walking, biking or riding the bus, she gets along just fine. Her one obstacle is drivers. Although she is spry, crossing highway 101 is the equivalent of Russian roulette. Always using a crosswalk, she feels drivers speed up as a way of proving their dominance. She also mention friends in their '80s who refuse to cross Coast Highway due to the open season on pedestrians. Let's face it folks, our communities have been designed by automakers.

It is against the law to cross the train tracks at any place other than those designated for cars. The lack of pedestrian bridges is a testament to our regional planners lack of commitment to a healthy environment. Crosswalks are rare along Coast Highway 101 and exist, with few exceptions, at traffic intersections. God forbid motorists would have to stop as they hurl themselves forward, as if their world would come to an end if they were late for their pedicure. Locally there have been business' that have opposed Bike lanes because they cut into on street parking. The list goes on and on, and what we are left with is clear evidence that we as a culture are in desperate need of a 12-step program entitled Automobiles Anonymous.

As long as we allow developers, and their puppets on city councils, to continue to make it completely inconvenient and damn near impossible to live auto-free we will only have ourselves to blame for the horrible mess we are in.

While I was in England I was able to watch as road protesters demanded an end to that country's Americanization of their transit system. Trains were being discontinued as roads were being built. Sound familiar. Another popular protest was the monthly event where pedestrians and cyclists would occupy city streets and literally stop traffic for hours. To borrow a phrase from the immortal Nancy Sinatra, these feet were made for walking.

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