Fear of change has nothing to do with opposition to Prop J

To impute a deep psychological flaw, “fear of change,” as the cause for opposition to Prop J is presumptuous on two counts: First it presumes this motive is broadly present among the majority of Del Mar’s denizens; and, second, it presumes that those in favor are somehow fearless and, thus, superior.

I know one Del Mar resident who underwent a sex change operation in 2003. He/she is opposed to Prop J. I know another who has had four careers in as many decades—also opposed to Prop J. I know a mercenary who moved to Del Mar from South Africa: opposed to Prop J. Finally, there are dozens of men and women who are on their second or even third spouse—all of whom, nonetheless, oppose Prop J.

Fear of change has nothing to do with opposition to Prop J. Just as support of Prop J has nothing to do with courage—the good doctor’s implied thesis.

Opposition to Prop J stems from a careful look beneath the specious arguments of those who would foist its changes upon this community. We are told that traffic engineers “studied” the issues and reported that the current plan will improve efficiency. In the same breath, we are told that if this turns out not to be the case a mitigation effort will be launched and funded with $100,000. I wonder what mitigation can be accomplished for $100,000 — paid crosswalk supervisors? We are told to look at Bird Rock and see how well it works there. I did so: Bird Rock has nowhere near the bicycle traffic Del Mar does on weekends. Even so, cyclists are squeezed into the roundabouts with circling cars, because the bicycle lane ends repeatedly at the roundabouts. Moreover, our revered traffic engineers did not study or model their proposal for peak summer weekends. The simple fact is this: if the current plan is implemented, the speed of automobile travel through downtown will be dictated by the slowest cyclist on the road. Another 10 years, and I plan to be that cyclist. And I plan to ride slowly.

As an emergency physician for nearly two decades at Scripps Encinitas, I had occasion to witness many auto versus bicycle accidents. Guess who wins? And when the cyclists and autos collide—as they surely will with this new plan—how will paramedics get to the injured; how will the hoped-for customers travel to the hoped-for burgeoning businesses around the wreckage? I said at one of our town’s input meetings — one the good doctor referenced in his blanket diagnosis — the first cyclist to die should be on the conscience of the planners: they did not take peak bike traffic into account; they did not compare apples to apples in their option assessments; they did not reason sensibly as they should have nor take the input from the right professionals. Rather they listened to “traffic engineers” who gave them not answers, but rather justifications for preconceived ideas.

Creating a vibrant business community is a non-unique problem, one solved already by cities large (e.g., Singapore) and small (e.g. Napa). Creating traffic snarls and road hazards are not solutions. Instead, creating efficient throughput and plentiful parking; strongly incentivizing commercial property owners to upgrade; and establishing a commercial mileau—a shop and look environment—are the tried and true means our bungling planners should have resorted to.

Fear of change has nothing to do with opposition to Prop J. Love of safety and common sense are motivating the quiet but persistent majority.

Steve Bierman MD

Del Mar