April 14, 2006 - Mile Of Cars
If you break down the problem of traffic to its most basic element, it’s just a case of too many cars and not enough lanes. The transportation engineers tend to focus on the “not enough lanes” part of the equation. The proposed extension of SB County Measure D is a case in point. It proposes to take 1.6 billion dollars from local citizens to make a bigger and better roadway system that can handle more cars.
Maybe, just maybe, the problem is not the roads. Maybe the problem is that our system of getting people from point A to point B is incredibly inefficient.
Maybe, there are just too many damn cars.
Of course, the future belongs to the young. So, if there are to be any societal changes with regard to transportation, it’s going to have to happen within that group of people. And where are the youth these days? Well, in Santa Barbara, you can find a lot of them on Del Playa Drive in Isla Vista. On Del Playa, UCSB students, many from upper-income families, live in old, maintenance-deferred apartments and small houses with spectacular ocean views.
Del Playa Drive itself is six blocks and 9/10ths of a mile long.
As you travel down the road, the things you notice most are litter (mostly empty red and blue plastic cups) and cars.
Yesterday, the dedicated staff of edhat.com walked the length of Del Playa to count the number of cars parked along the road and the ones two and three deep in the driveways. As we walked, we got to witness a sampling of the attitudes and behaviors of the new generation. It’s a timeless fact that “kids these days” don’t live up to the standards of older generations. And yesterday was no exception.
We counted a total of 854 cars on the road and in the driveways along Del Playa. Our In-House-Statistician tells us that this equates to roughly three cars for every car-length of road (whatever that means). Despite what some might say, we didn’t get a sense that the cars we were counting were particularly expensive or new. Honda Civic was a popular model.
So, things don’t look good for breaking our society’s car-addiction any time soon.
But, if you look how we introduce new drivers into the system, it shouldn’t come as a surprise. Despite the fact that we want drivers to get into the habit of ridesharing, new laws prohibit new licensees from taking a passenger for one year. And, despite the fact that the availability and price of parking are known to be huge incentives to encourage alternative transportation, parking at local High Schools is free and readily available (subsidized by our tax dollars).
In yesterday’s contest, guesses were way low. The average was in the low 200’s. Nicki, with a guess of 827, was the closest. Nicki wins an Edhat t-shirt.
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