I just got back from watching An Inconvenient Truth, and I have this horrible deja-vu-headache. I was a kid during the Carter Administration, and I remember all the environmental consciousness and how it all simply evaporated by the next administration. Had we gone about our business in a prudent way then, we wouldn't even be talking about global warming now.
Something I would love to see us develop in Palo Alto is an independent system of bike paths. What I mean by that is a transportation network that completely separates bicyclists and pedestrians from car traffic, and actually allows people to get around all of Palo Alto.
We have the best weather in the world, and the fewest insects! But let's face it, our city is not very bicycle friendly. I am not an advocate of more bike lanes, because I don't think the bike lane system is working, especially for families with young kids. In order to get a critical mass, we need a much safer and comprehensive system that separates the bikes from the cars and actually gets people around the whole city. Until we do, bicycle riding will remain a minor form of transportation here. The car paths dominate our city; as long as that is the case, cars will remain the dominant form of transporation. I'm not talking about making our city harder for car traffic, I'm talking about making it at least as easy and safe for bikes and pedestrians, too.
Sure, I can already hear the griping about the logistics. We have the best minds and hearts in the world in this community -- and if the news about overfull elementary schools is true, lots of new families with young children who will benefit well into the future. If we want families to make biking a way of life for more than just occasional recreation or short trips to school, it has to be safer, and that requires a safer system. It's worth the benefits to our health, our community, our sense of who we are and what we stand for, and to our world. It's the prudent thing to do, and I'm sure will accrue benefits we cannot even yet imagine. No, it won't be easy, few things worth doing are. We would set such an example of what can be done. I think we could do it.