Letter to the Editor: Road closures do not combat climate change


As an ardent environmental activist, I find it shameful and disingenuous for Gordon Marr, Phil Ginsburg, Jeff Tomlin, and others who oppose the first proposal to present themselves as environmentalists and assert that the proposal must be defeated in order to combat climate change, when they do. I know very well that it is street closures that radically exacerbate the problem. Creating new open spaces on dilapidated properties or, for example, on top of a tunnel in Presidio is one thing. It is quite another to shut down the streets that tens of thousands of motorists use every day to commute to their various destinations, inevitably and unnecessarily releasing massive amounts of additional greenhouse gases.

The fallacy of the street-blocking advocates’ argument, which they know all too well to be wrong, is to assume that by closing the road to drivers, people will not drive. This is ridiculous. Instead, when the roads are closed, drivers do not turn away, but instead must spend more time behind the wheel for longer distances as they get off their roads, often in less fuel-efficient driving conditions than on a closed road. This is not rocket science and all city leaders know it. In fact, a draft city environmental impact report on the Ocean Beach Climate Change Adaptation Project acknowledges that the proposed closure of the road extension between the western end of Slot Boulevard and Skyline Boulevard would result in “significant and inevitable” traffic impacts, including Congestion and additional vehicle miles traveled.

Take the Great Highway, a road used by 18,000 to 20,000 drivers a day before the pandemic, which has timed stop lights and no four-way intersections, providing the most fuel-efficient route for the two-mile span between Lincoln Way and Sloat Broadway the trees. When the Great Upper Highway is closed, people still need to get their jobs on the Peninsula and in the South Bay; Parents still have to drop off their children, pick them up from school, take them to soccer exercises, dance lessons, etc.; Families and other people who buy large quantities of groceries still have to go to the supermarket; Veterans still have to make it to their Virginia hospital appointments; People still need to do errands; Surfers still like to watch the waves at both ends of Ocean Beach and in the middle; etc., they do not simply abandon their cars.

Instead, drivers must 1) transition from the more fuel-efficient driving conditions of a grand highway to the less fuel-efficient driving conditions as they navigate residential streets, where they have to come to a full stop or come to a complete stop at each block and then speed up again other, 2) a .8-mile detour on their way to Sunset Boulevard (a less fuel-efficient route than the Great Upper Highway), or 3) a 1.8-mile detour on their way to the inefficient fuel 19The tenth Avenue (which is undergoing a major multi-year construction project). In addition, a large, closed highway causes traffic and even congestion at many “pressure points” on the West Side, such as through Golden Gate Park on Chain of Lakes Drive and at Great Highway intersections in both Lincoln and Sloat. In addition, especially on weekends, many, many people to cut From distant points, often with bikes strapped to their SUVs, to ride or walk the Great Highway.

The undeniable fact is that every day that the great upper highway is closed, tens of thousands of drivers are forced to spend longer periods behind the wheel unnecessarily to log extra miles on their odometers, in much less fuel-efficient driving conditions. Than it is on the highway. All the while, they are unnecessarily generating extra carbon emissions that otherwise wouldn’t be released if the highway was open. This is not even debatable.

Climate change is truly, as President Biden has said, an existential threat to the planet. It is unjustifiable for the city’s “leaders” to take discretionary measures that exacerbate the problem at this point in history. At the very least, these “leaders” need to stop repeating the big Trump-like lie that they are blocking roads in an effort to combat climate change. They should be honest and admit that they are doing so because they are convinced of the anti-driver agenda that some in this city are promoting (or trying to win votes from those they have), which seeks to do everything possible that dares punish people who drive, the environment, and street safety. , and other interests.

Lest there be any doubt about the motives of these street-blocking “leaders”, consider this: Why is the city’s top environmental priority not to promote the use of electric cars by building the city’s electric vehicle infrastructure, incentivizing the purchase of these cars, etc. .? Both the federal and state governments recognize that cars are not going away any time soon and that a switch to zero-emissions vehicles is imperative in efforts to combat climate change, and actively facilitate and enable the transition. In fact, The city’s 2021 Climate Action Plan reflects that the city’s best and most effective strategy to combat climate change is to switch to electric vehicles. So why are efforts instead directed at blocking roads? Additionally, if these road closure “leaders” really care about climate change, where are the proposals for major improvements to public transportation in the underserved West Side? The truth is that climate change is a deceptive talking point for them, and their top priority is to punish people who drive.

If there was time to play a “long game” about fighting climate change, Probably A strategy to make driving as much of a headache as possible, with the goal that some people will eventually decide that their car is not worth it and therefore drive less, may be It has some effect. But climate change is here now, and the destructive and discretionary actions by the city government causing additional greenhouse gas emissions cannot be justified.

Charlie Perkins

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