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Slip Sliding Away.

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Coast News
March 25, 1999


This week, we mark the 10th anniversary of a road bump on the road to nowhere. On the morning of March 24, 1989, in the pristine waters of Prince William Sound, Alaska, the Exxon Valdez ran aground. The environmental effects of this disaster are still being felt, and so are the behaviors that created it. Corporate hands were slapped, a lot of photos were snapped, and an unforgivable amount of wildlife was lost. And we moved on. Ah, humanity.

I don't want to appear misanthropic, but come on, when will we get our proverbial act together, and stop mucking things up? On Monday, February 8, 1999, off the coast of Coos Bay, Oregon, another grounded tanker began to leak 70,000 gallons of fuel oil. And once again human reliance on fossil fuels was despoiling the environment, and leaving the images of sea birds covered in oil to haunt us.

Last week, on what I will dub Gridlock Thursday, traffic in North County came to a near stand still. The domino effect began with an over turned van on interstate 5, and for the rest of the day getting anywhere along the coast was a nightmare. Here in Leucadia both Vulcan Avenue and Highway 101 were backed up, as people sought ways around the problem. Sorry folks, but we are the problem. Just think what it will be like once SANDAG convinces another million people to move here.

Not only is our addiction to the automobile making the planet unlivable, it is also making our communities inhospitable, if not down right dangerous. Talking to Marcy at Buzz Cuts one would think the Coast Highway through Encinitas has become a local remake of "DEATH RACE 2000." For those of you that have not seen this classic B film, it is about a coast to coast race were drivers rack up points for running down pedestrians.

The reason I was talking to Marcy was because she happened upon two accidents that were part of the chaos of Gridlock Thursday. Arriving for work she came upon a female cyclist that had been hit by a car, and later that morning, when leaving the Leucadia Post Office she came upon a another accident that required Mercy Air to transport the a motorist to Scripps. Luckily these were not fatalities. Which was not the case last summer when a seven year girl was killed at the intersection of Grandview and Coast Highway 101.

After many requests for a stop sign at that corner, no traffic calming measures have yet to be taken. Marcy believes that if this tragedy would have happened in Carlsbad, something would have been done by now. As much as I reject Carlsbad's development policies, I have to agree. When walking, or riding your bike, becomes the equivalent of assisted suicide you have to admit something is wrong.

I have a great idea, What if local cities forced developers to finance mass transit? If that means contributing to the Coaster operating fund, so be it. We could use a nice change of pace. Instead of cities bending over for developers, perhaps we can get the developers to put out for a change. We don't need roads widened, that only perpetuates the problem. Why encourage people to continue driving when we know it is choking the planet?

Infrastructure that promotes environmentally sensitive transportation is something that is severely lacking in Coastal North County. For residents to catch a North bound bus on 101 they either have to cross the railroad tracks, or the highway. Speaking from experience, the City of Encinitas only places crosswalks at busy intersections. Double or nothing, eh?

At every turn, it seems local municipalities go out of their way to discourage alternative forms of transportation. I'm sure this has everything to do with accommodating sprawl. And as we all know, sprawl accommodates the oil and gas industries that need us chained to the wheel, so that they can live high on the hog. I guess there is not a lot of money in a healthy, and safe environment. Walking to work might become the next form of political protest.

Speaking of protest, I say it is time we let the multinational corporations, such as Exxon/Mobil and the Ford Motor Company, know that we are mad as hell and are not going to take it anymore. If we expect to leave anything other than a toxic mess for future generations we have got boycott industries that are doing everything humanly possible to destroy life as we know it.

Tough rhetoric? You bet. Because for every little girl who dies beneath an automobile, millions of other creatures succumb to the oil industry that keeps those same automobiles on the road.

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